This week’s Sunday Telegraph column – rosé snobbery11th June 2017
Hi guys, I’m in Los Angeles on important business matters BUT I found time this week to grumble about everyone becoming wine experts at this time of year. Here you go. Fuck knows how you find an accent for an ‘e’ on my 900-year-old laptop so you’re just going to have to read ‘rose’ and accent it in your own head. Sorry. I can’t do all the work round here.
There are ways of telling that summer’s arrived in Britain. The smell of something being cremated on a neighbour’s barbecue loiters in the air, people look like they should be in a burns unit after spending a few hours in the park and everyone – EVERYONE – suddenly becomes an expert in rose.
People lose their minds about rose at this time of year. People who would be hard pushed to tell the difference between apple juice and orange juice start demanding ‘pale rose’ in the pub. They demand ‘Provencale rose’ specifically as if the right to drink it is a fundamental tenet of the Hunan Rights Act. They wrinkle their noses at anything ‘too pink’ and make sniffy remarks about Ribena. In short, we become a nation of oenologists.
Before you start getting defensive and all Robert Parker on me, I count myself among this number. At the end of my road in London is a terrific independent wine shop run by a chap called Mallek. It is possible that I see Mallek more often than I see members of my family. In I go on a Monday night. Or a Tuesday night. Or a Wednesday night and so on. And at the moment, I head straight for Mallek’s wine fridge where bottles of rose are lined up like a Farrow and Ball colour chart. I invariably go for the light pink one in the funny shaped bottle because, well, that’s what you drink at this time of year, isn’t it? That is the law. The darker roses may be delicious, but I pick the Provencale one because I’m going to go home, open my kitchen door and pretend I’m on holiday in a little cobbled square eating whole wheels of brie and listening to an accordion. Thanks very much Mallek, see you tomorrow.
The craze for this sort of rose encouraged an enterprising pal of mine called Jamie to buy 500 bottles and 500 magnums from a Provencale vineyard as a business venture a couple of summers ago. He shipped them to London and stored the bottles in his Fulham flat, having rebranded them as ‘Guns n Rose.’ Sloanes at dinner parties across Britain fell about laughing and the bottles were widely photographed on Facebook and Instagram. It was all a good wheeze until Jamie received a cease and desist letter from a certain American band and was warned that it is illegal to associate alcoholic products with violence. So that was that – the end of Jamie’s glittering career in rose. Still, I drank a magnum of it and it was excellent. Slash should have bought a bottle. Might have lightened him up.
To be fair, my nervousness about darker rose isn’t pure snobbery. It also stems from the stuff we drink in Spain, where my dad lives. There, you can go to the local bodega and fill up a plastic container of rose for just over one euro a litre. Bargain. But it’s as dark as cranberry juice and has some odd side effects. One afternoon, a family member who will remain nameless drank so much of the stuff that she started crying, shouted at my then-boyfriend for being bald and was sent to bed in disgrace. In her defence, he was losing it a bit on top but she hasn’t touched it since. So perhaps we’re wise to stick to the pale stuff. Or ‘blush’ as some of these apparent wine masters among us insist on calling it.
Aldi’s the place to go this year anyway. They’re selling a bottle of Provencale rose for £5.99 which is apparently much better than all sorts of competitors. The only trouble is, at the time of writing, it’s sold out online, which means some of you might actually have to work out what an Aldi is and drive to it to buy some.