Words: Shamim de Brún
This week Café en Seine launched The Whispering Angel Rosé Garden. Where the once limited Whispering Angel will flow freely at thirteen euros a glass.
You can credit Whispering Angel for the term “brosé”. The now almost overused word for men who enjoy the pink wine. It is also known colloquially as “Hampton’s Gatorade”, according to USA Trade Tasting. But where the fook did it come from?
Rosé has undoubtedly become the de rigeur drink of the summer. Ireland’s perennial favourite Whispering Angel has, over the last few years, become one of the most in-demand wines in the country.
Rosé used to be a hard sell here. It’s typically marketed as a summer drink. However, we are likely more open to it because the approaching climate change catastrophe has brought hotter summery weather.
As a whole category in France, rosé is not considered a fancy drink. Still, because the trend came via America, the wine was positioned as a luxury product.
Whispering Angel has become the quintessential blush-pink Provençal rosé. Rosé appeals to people who want affordable luxury. Who doesn’t want to feel opulent and escape the burning truth that you’ll never own a gaff for just a few rosé-tinted minutes?
Whispering Angel was first imported to Ireland via Pembroke Wines. And it was costly for the quality it was. Starting at thirty-plus quid, it would fly off shelves with Pembrook regularly selling out. People would buy whole cases of it. For the more upper class, it was like a symbol of having taste. But it’s relative affordability mean you weren’t ostentatiously wealth flexing
It is rare for a wine becomes a household name. Some grapes catch on, like Malbec. Some regions gain popularity, like Rioja. But the only other wine I know that has become so universally known is Dada. But Dada clocks in under a tenner. Or at least it did when it started.
Whispering Angel has almost a hundred thousand Instagram followers. It’s been tagged practically sixty-five thousand times but could arguably still be an obscure product compared to the likes of Krug or Bollinger. However, it’s got a cult following here in Ireland.
To the knowing consumer, Whispering Angel is identifiable from a distance. You can identify the rosé from Provence without even seeing the label. Likewise, the bottle’s corset shape is a signifier of the region. That is all because of Instagram. Whispering Angel was the first wine to go all-in on influencer marketing.
There was a tiny pocket of people who drank rosé in the Hamptons because those people had likely been to Provence when they ‘summered’ in Europe. So the Whispering Angel team sent all their rosé to this affluent corner of America. Whispering Angel’s “Millennial Pink” hue is, after all, visually appealing, especially when you’re curating an Instagram feed.
From there, it caught on quickly. The strategy was simple; go where the wealthy millennials go. Brand partnerships with SoHo House in New York, Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Fontainebleau in Miami brought Whispering Angel from a whisper to a yell.
Due mainly to this kind of marketing, rosé is an occasion in and of itself, an aesthetic and a way of life. If Instagram is anything to go by, Whispering Angel isn’t just selling wine. They’re selling a lifestyle. It isn’t simply about sipping everyone’s favourite pink wine; it’s lounging poolside in the Hamptons, popping bottles for your best friend’s birthday, and snapping a Boomerang while you cheers over brunch.
Once in all these places, people started seeing Whispering Angel everywhere, especially on Instagram. That’s how it went global because that’s when it became aspirational. It became as much an influencer trope as a pumpkin spice latte or a Diptyque candle.
These days it’s as well known for being Adel’s favourite wine as it is for fueling the Hamptons. Now that it is distributed by Edward Dillon, you can find it in your local SuperValu pitched perfectly at twenty-odd quid it is a perfectly decent summer sipper. More like buying a fancy body lotion when you know the Nivia would do the job than budget-busting.
It might not have the same name recognition here as it does in the US or the UK, but with this brand partnership with Cafe en Seine, it’s almost there. While Whispering Angel is not the cheapest bottle on the shelf, it isn’t completely inaccessible, so it will be enticing for fans who want to sample what it’s like to be Adele.
It managed to get gatekeeper seals of approval. The renowned British wine critic, Jancis Robinson called it “more palate-grabbing by far from the Provencal Pink norm.” A testament to its success, it was bought by LVMH in 2020. The company that owns Moet and Hennessy, two of the most recognisable drinks in the world.
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