London, July 14 : Summers in France this year is cheered with a glass of Rose or pink wine and not the traditional white and red wine, what with one in five bottles of wine sold in France being Rose wine.
Having long been dismissed by purists as uncultured plonk, pink wine is the latest fad among French youth as a light-hearted, festive drink to be enjoyed with scant regard for labels, vintages, grape varietals and origin.
According to estimates, the soaring sales of Rose are coming from falling red sales and it is believed that a hot summer could further push the sales to more than half of all bottles consumed this year.
A new study conducted this year found that while red wine remains the domain of the richer, older French men; rose is drunk by both sexes, young and old from different social groups. Also, red wine is consumed mainly during meals, on the other hand rose is also popular as an aperitif or in soirees.
It was just last month that angry growers of red wines in the southwestern Languedoc Roussillon region protested against rival low-cost wine, but growers in the scorching July heat of Provence, France's main rose-producing region and which began making it 2,600 years ago, are in the pink.
Sales from Alain Combard's region, which produces 700,000 bottles annually, have increased by 10 per cent this year.
"We are extraordinary lucky as the world has truly discovered rose. We have the wind in our sails. Before, rose was just a summer wine to be drunk at barbecues. Today, it has acquired its letters of nobility, and can hold its own with red and white. A good rose, for me, is above all very floral, with a hint of orange or grapefruit and must be as light as lace," The Telegraph quoted Combard, as saying.
Growers living in the Anjou in the Loire - France's other main rose area - are enjoying a similar boom. But this success has led the two top traditional red and white wine-growing regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy to go down in sales with the increasing prospect of rose.
While rose long suffered from being seen as little more than a by-product of red wine, it seems that the pink craze is now spilling over into Britain and the US.
It was earlier made from juice siphoned or 'bled' from the top of a vat of fermenting red grapes as a way of improving the red's intensity, but now growers make use of a technique focusing solely on rose called direct pressing, where red grape-skin, pips and pulp are lightly pressed and left to macerate for up to eight hours before extracting the rose-tinted liquid.
Exports to the US are booming, but UK sales of French rose are still low compared to sweet New World "blush".
According to Cambord, Britain is now ready to branch out from what he calls cheaper "drink" to pricier "real wine".