Rosé Cider is Here to Stay
Rosé cider is here to stay, and thank goodness for that. While it’s very easy to say a trend has hit its peak (or Jumped the Shark, if you will), there are many examples of trends in alcohol and beyond that survived the initial rush of popularity to become brands, styles and categories of their own. I don’t believe rosé cider will be a fad that fades away. Here’s why I think this and, more importantly, why it’s a good thing for cider as a category.
It always amazes me how things so removed from the world of cider can have a tangential effect on an industry that’s practically unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. (Most people still don’t know that cider and beer are completely different beverages.) In this case, fashion, tech and wine have collided with the timing of world events to create a perfect storm of association for this color (rose gold) with this new generation of drinkers (I shudder to use the term Millennials, but that’s the parlance that most will associate with this generation - so be it). Allow me to explain.
Each year Pantone (THE company that defines colors), picks a color of the year. This year its lilac. In case you’re wondering, 2020’s color is mint. The color in 2016 was rose quartz, this sort of odd shade of pink. There were only two other shades of pink chosen since 2000 (honeysuckle in 2011 and fuschia rose in 2001). What typically happens is that fashion will embrace the color of the year as a focal point for experimentation (if they choose) and then the consumer reaction will determine how long it sticks around.
In late 2015, Apple came out with the iPhone 6S and, for the first time, the option to order the iPhone in a color other than black or white was available. This was a big effin’ deal. Apple offered gold, silver and rose gold as options. Wouldn’t you know that 40% of presales were for the rose gold color? So now 40% of the most popular phone model in the US were turning into this color. You can also see rose gold trending on everything from shoes to watches. Even in jewelry, It’s become the coveted third option after silver and yellow gold, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Rosé wine had been consigned to the sale bin for many years in the early part of the century. Even the sweeter (distant) white zinfandel cousin had started to dwindle in sales. It really started growing in 2011 and exploded in summer 2015. It’s continued steady growth since.
-Shootings and violence in the US.
-The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
-The election of a new US president.
-Paris terrorist attacks (late 2015).
-Belgium suicide bombings.
-Birth of Brexit.
-Death of David Bowie and Prince.
If you were alive and conscious in 2016, you were likely impacted by something involving or related to the above.
Ok, great. What does this have to do with anything else?
The impact of the above events (and the many more that I didn’t list) was cumulatively negative. The world was in fear. Pink is seen as a positive, soft, soothing color so it acted as a bit of a buffer to that. It can also be considered a revealing color in that it evokes joy, passion and nostalgia. Pink allows one to put on the proverbial rose-colored glasses when looking at the evil in the world.
Back to Cider
Cider is still connected to the alcohol world, so the trends for rosé wine were bound to transfer to cider in some form (see also: hopped cider, hazy cider, Belgian yeast cider, etc.). Eden Specialty Ciders (VT) had their 11 Imperial Rosé out in 2016. If you haven’t tried it, seek it out. It’s their awesome dry cider with red currants (hence the color) and back sweetened with a bit of ice cider. Descendant Ciders (NY) had their Pomme cider available, a blend of apples, pomegranate and hibiscus flowers. Long Island’s Wolffer Winery (NY) had No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider out in 2016 as well, an excellent cider in it’s own right. Those are the three ciders that I remember being out in 2016, though there were undoubtedly others. It’s likely these were available in limited quantities in 2015 as well.
The initial success these (and other) brands saw in 2016 led to other producers reacting and creating their own rosés. Now there’s easily 15-20 different rosé ciders on the market and continued sales will push other producers to experiment and expand in this subcategory of cider.
This is Good for Cider
This is good for cider because a true all-apple rosé cider needs to contain red-flesh apples. This is an important distinction from wine because rosé wine is made by leaving the skin in contact with the fermenting grapes. That doesn’t work for cider.
It will take some years to grow enough quantities of red-fleshed apples to make significant batches, but we have to encourage orchardists to graft these rootstocks now. Of all the rosé ciders on the market now, I only know of one that is made entirely of red-flesh apples (Alpenfire Aerlie Red Rosé). I’ve tried a number of Alpenfire’s ciders in the past, all of them impressive. On that basis alone, I have to recommend trying Aerlie, though I don’t specifically recall trying it.
The creation of cider from red flesh apple varieties will drive further education and exploration into the specific quality and terroir of apples in relation to cider. It’s a further reason to encourage consumers to explore the incredible variety that cider can offer.
Here to Stay
If you want further proof that this trend is here to stay, look no further than everyone’s favorite beverage trendsetter and multibillion dollar corporate conglomerate, Starbucks. Dragonfruit drinks have been created to be this summer’s big drink hit for them. They’re a bit darker than rose gold, but it’s pretty close.
Rosé cider all day, yes way. And all year long too.