Even people who don’t know about wine know about Blue Nun, and it’s developed an unenviable reputation since it fell out of fashion as the drink of choice for old-fashioned winos and drastically uncool folk who know nothing about wine. (The fools.)
I’ve never liked it, controversially, even back in the days when I’d happily swig £2-3 bottles of wine in parks in Winchester, or even silver bags wrenched from boxes that you could easily drape over your shoulder if you were feeling extra classy.
It was too sweet for me.
Things have changed, though. As I’ve grown up and started taking notice of wine the tastes of the public have veered sharply from super-sweet to ultra-dry: from Germany to France – and New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, among others.
It’s taken a few decades now, but it feels like our collective palate is opening out a little and freeing itself from its fashion-victim prejudices. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe we’re just at the statrt of another seismic shift in the market. You never notice until it’s too late, I suppose – which is what happened to Blue Nun.
One minute you’re on every dinner table in the UK, the next minute Old Leatherface Andrew Neil is abusing your brand as a running joke on This Week, ironically name-dropping it as a comedic anchor while Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott chuckle and snuggle up together on the sofa behind him.
An ignominious fate for any brand, especially a fine wine.
So they’ve upped their game; or changed their game, depending on which way you look at it, and how much of a fan you were of the old recipe.
How different this really is from the original recipe I’m not best placed to say – I probably drank it warm and certainly had very different tastes back then. Nor do I know a lot about Rivaner (a.k.a. Müller-Thurgau), but I’ve had a few Rieslings in my time and I can quite confidently state that on the benchmark of those wines, and bearing in mind the relatively low price point (I think it was around £6-7), this is actually a pretty decent bottle of wine.
Its aromas of pear drops and flowers with a faint hint of nail polish remover are not entirely unique and certainly place it within an existing schemata that covers a geographical region from Alsace East through Germany and Austria.
And it tastes good: light, zippy, kinda reminiscent of Turkish delight, pink grapefruit and pear.
“Now perhaps a little drier than you might expect” is the cheeky angle the refreshed website goes with, and that’s pretty much spot on; Blue Nun nowadays is now a well-rounded, easy-drinking off-dry white wine that would go well with any number of modern cooking styles (indeed I added some to my risotto, as you can see – and it went very well both in and outside of the dish). What’s more, it has recognisable grapes in it, so it’s no longer likely to frighten people with the dubious quality of being a low-price ‘blend’. Its actual taste hasn’t shifted all that much, in all likelihood – and the brand remains the same, with the unmistakable bright blue bottles – Blue Nun has adapted itself to modern tastes, yet without entirely losing its original character.
As long as you have no wine snobs at your table, you could totally get away with serving this to them with white meat, salads, curries, Thai food, sushi or any number of other foodstuffs. And if you do have any wine snobs at your table, serve it to them anyway but hide the bottle from sight – then you can play a fun game:
1) If they like it you can then reveal what they’ve been drinking and watch as they begin to choke, laugh, cry, and possibly vomit into their glasses.
2) If they don’t like it you can then reveal what they’ve been drinking, tell them you bought it specifically because you knew they wouldn’t like it and you hate tham and can they please go now – go, and never come back.
3) If they refuse to answer or seem hesitant because they are worried about your motives for conealing the bottle from them, produce the bottle from your concealed area (wherever that may be), leap over the table and beat them to death with it.
No, seriously though – this is a nice wine.
Available from Tesco, and probably other places.