With 90-degree days predicting an Indian summer here on the East Coast, we can all look forward to at least another few weeks of bros justifying their love of rosé. The pinkish elixir will flow at rooftop bars and boozy brunches, and dudes in Bonobos will continue to clink glasses of Peyrassol while quoting lines from Anchorman. It’s going to be terrible.
Before we go down this path, a quick disclaimer: I do not count myself among the ranks of militant rosé haters, who cast the beverage as an over-sweet affront to good taste. In the right circumstances, I’ll happily drink a demi-sec rosé (those circumstances usually involve a show of solidarity with the suburban moms I’m hanging out with). Rosé can be good, even great from time to time. But the bro embrace of the wine threatens to give it an even worse stigma than it already had.
This week, I received a press release informing me of the so-called “Bro-sé Effect” that has apparently swept the nation. It started with some facts:
It then went on to explain how rosé has made the remarkable transition from “baby showers” to “backyard BBQ”:
As usual, lifestyle journalists are largely to blame. Forbes tells us that “Real Men Drink Rosé,” while Food Republic informs us that “Real Men Drink Pink“—a catchy motto that serves as the battle cry of the bro-sé enthusiast. Rick Ross has turned the hyper-masculine hip-hop legions onto sparkling rosé with his aggressively marketed Belaire, while comedian Adam Carolla pushes a “Bro-sé Sangria” called Mangria (wrap your head around that). And Wine Awesomeness—a dude-centric service that promises “curated wine & lifestyle”—graces us with this visual representation of the manliness of rosé:
Out in the wild, the bro-sé effect isn’t hard to spot. I was recently given a bottle of rosé by an old college buddy who was keen to school me on the underrated merits of the drink—a very kind gesture, but one that never would have happened a few years ago. And a search for the #brosé hashtag on Instagram reveals a treasure trove of shirtless homoeroticism:
What’s annoying about this phenomenon isn’t the fact that men are drinking rosé. It’s the fetishization of the choice that’s irksome—the self-conscious need to prove its manliness and turn wine into a frat-boy meme. Because if we strip away the posturing, the man-child enthusiasm for rosé is not surprising at all, as its sweet, chuggable character fits perfectly into the bro drinking wheelhouse .
In case you are unfamiliar, here is the drinking evolution of an average bro:
- Ages 14-17: Drinks Smirnoff stolen from mom’s liquor cabinet in order to get drunk as quickly as possible before high-school parties. Sometimes snorts it, pours it into eyeball, or butt-chugs it to speed up the process. The guiding philosophy is, “Booze is gross, but also so awesome—let’s get this over with.”
- Ages 18-25: Kills 30-racks of corn syrup-y, cheap lager (Miller Lite/Bud Light/Natty Light) when hanging out; switches to sweet, disgusting Red Bull-Vodka when turning up.
- Ages 26-35: Gets fat from working a desk job and no longer playing lax; attempts to sustain a relationship with a woman who does not want to be with a fat man. To reduce calories, drinks rosé when hanging out (at Hamptons summer house) and switches to vodka tonics and cocaine to turn up (at weddings).
- Ages 45+: Makes partner and feels pressure to have better taste; becomes an avid Chardonnay drinker and collector of massive Napa reds.
In other words, aging frat boys become rosé drinkers because they like sweet things and don’t want to get fat. It’s pretty much written in the cosmos. But just because it happens to be pink, they feel compelled to be a bit ironic about it. Because there’s nothing bros love more than co-opting things they would usually call “gay”—hugging each other while doing classic-rock karaoke, smacking each others’ junk, overspending on driving moccasins—and turning them into an act of manly defiance.
Putting aside the sheer idiocy of the “a real man has the confidence to [fill in activity that might be perceived as feminine]” line of reasoning, the continued insistence on judging drinks based on color is infuriating. Here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Times Style story about the rise of the Negroni—another drink whose hue strikes terror in the hearts of Real Men:
[pullquote]“It’s like a pink polo shirt,” said Alex Pincus, an owner [of Grand Banks], who prowled the schooner’s decks that night, Negroni in hand. He explained further, “it’s sort of manly and colorful at the same time.”[/pullquote]
Is there any worse way to describe the bitter complexity of a Negroni? Has anything good ever come of making a drink into a fashion statement? And by the way—didn’t Cam’ron already put this irrational fear of pink to rest in 2003?
So go ahead, bros: Keep enjoying your In Fine Rosé and bragging about your “signature sangria” during the Cowboys game. Just don’t use it to make a statement about your masculinity. Drink what you want and don’t make a fuss about it—nothing could be more manly than that.
In the meantime, grab a glass of something pink and let Kanye take it away…