Why celebrities from John Legend to Brangelina are trying to sell you rosé

Why celebrities from John Legend to Brangelina are trying to sell you rosé
Image: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
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John Legend. Drew Barrymore. The Vanderpumps. The Bon Jovis. They all make rosé. Even Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s pink wine, Miraval, persists, despite the dissolution of Brangelina.

Why are there so many rosés that bear some sort of celebrity imprimatur? And perhaps more to the point, why do we keep buying them? Celebrities invest in vineyards and wine because that’s what rich people have always done. Wine drinkers buy rosés associated with famous people because wine is confusing. Rosé, like an instantly recognizable celebrity, is a relatively simple pleasure.

A refreshing summer drink that actually makes the word “quaff” feel appropriate, rosé is also an aspirational lifestyle choice. Sold in bottles with pretty labels, cans with enviable graphic design, or boxes decorated with cute woodland creatures, it’s hard to resist rosé’s aesthetic pull. “It has become both a symbol of, and necessity for, that luxury lifestyle Shangri-La so many are aiming for (at least by the looks of Instagram),” wrote Alex Beggs in Vanity Fair.

And rosé’s simple, photogenic charm is not to be undervalued at the wine store. The language around wine can feel purposefully unintelligible. It’s difficult to even ask for a red or white without getting into dicey territory involving specific grape names and terms like dry, salty, natural, barnyardy, and structured. Choosing a rosé, on the other hand, is less a matter of knowing about winemaking regions and varietals, and more like buying tickets to a movie because you like the leading actor, or listening to a Spotify playlist curated around a favorite musician.

As NPR’s Lars Gotrich wrote in the introduction to his 75-song summer “roséwave” playlist, rosé is “the cheapest route to faux-luxury, the costume jewelry, the clip-on earrings of wine that nevertheless looks pretty, sips sweetly and engineers a soft buzz which spurs absentminded reaching towards Spanish cocktail nuts (as long they’re free).”

Around the world, people are sipping more and more rosé. Part of this is due to pink-loving millennials, Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz wrote in a recent Quartz Obsession email: “Exports of French-made rosé have effervesced in recent years, from under half a million liters in 2006 to almost 8 million in 2014.”

Lisa Vanderpump has her own rosé, too.
Lisa Vanderpump has her own rosé, too.
Image: Credit: /MediaPunch/IPX

It’s no surprise then that there’s room in the rosé section of your local wine shop for bottles branded by celebrities, Instagram stars, and famous institutions like Cirque du Soleil—alongside clever marketing gambits like Summer Water and 40-Ounce Rosé.

Although plenty of excellent, winemaker-driven pink wines exist, for much of the market rosé is about a feeling—cold wine, hot sun, and summer relaxation—not about craftsmanship or terroir. Choosing a rosé is much more like deciding who to invite to your dinner party than it’s like planning the menu. So why not invite John Legend or Angelina Jolie to the party?