Crispin Rosé hopes to take a bite out of booming sales of pink wine

Rosé, the pink-toned wine that took the U.S. beverage alcohol market by storm, was seemingly everywhere in 2017, becoming a cultural phenomenon and sparking a round of internet memes, nicknames and rally cries.

Sales of rosé are up nearly 40 percent year-to-date through Dec. 2, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data. Through 48 weeks, 2017 sales have already surpassed $212 million, per Nielsen. Rosé's surge, which effectively began in 2016 and accelerated this year, is part of the reason wine sales again outpaced beer sales in 2017, a trend that’s caught the attention of beer companies.

The MillerCoors cider brand Crispin aims to capture some of that momentum with its newest offering, Crispin Rosé. Set to launch nationwide Jan. 1, Crispin Rosé is made with real rose petals, hibiscus and a blend of fresh-pressed apples and pears.

MillerCoors is bullish about the brand’s potential to appeal to drinkers who typically don’t drink beer, says Ashley Selman, vice president of emerging and economy brands.

“We know there’s a high correlation between wine and cider drinkers, and with the introduction of Crispin Rosé, we believe we’re bringing the best of both worlds to this group,” Selman says. “Crispin Rosé combines the beautiful appearance of rosé with the crispness, refreshment and shareable nature of a cider.”

With Crispin drinkers consuming more than four times as much wine as cider, per Nielsen data cited by MillerCoors, the addition of a wine-like rosé to its portfolio should help keep more of its target consumers in the cider category, Selman says. It also is expected to bring in incremental drinkers; some 72 percent are projected to come from outside of the beer category, according to MillerCoors research.

With a dusty pink color and an aroma that matches a traditional, Provençal rosé, the hard cider has light cherry and strawberry notes on the nose, along with a hint of vanilla and stone fruit. Fresh strawberries and light cherry flavors make way for melon, rhubarb and tropical fruit, along with a tickle of sweetness. Still, the cider remains crisp and finishes dry, which is expected to appeal to a growing number of consumers seeking drier cider options.

“Long-term, we believe there’s huge opportunity in welcoming wine drinkers to the Crispin portfolio,” Selman says.

Crispin Rosé initially will be released in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, followed by draft in March.

Crispin, acquired by MillerCoors in 2012, is known for producing and importing European-style natural hard ciders at its Colfax, Calif., cidery using fresh-pressed apples and pears. Its primary brands include the apple-based Crispin Original, Pacific Pear and a classic U.K.-style hard cider called Brown’s Lane.