Blue Nun Gets a Makeover


Blue Nun wine reinvented itself a few years ago — I wrote about it in a chapter in Wine Wars called “The Curse of the Blue Nun.” It stopped being that rather mediocre sweetish German white wine that some of us remember from the 1970s (along with Matteus Rosé) and became something a bit different.

The classic Blue Nun

The classic Blue Nun white wine got better. It became Riesling, not a Liebfraumilch blend, for example. And the brand became more global, with Blue Nun wines in many different varieties (Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Rosé) sourced from several countries. There was an alcohol-free “lite” Blue Nun and a bubbly wine with tiny sparkly, floaty golden bits to brighten your day.

Blue Nun became a brand with the same sort of broad portfolio of wines that, say, Barefoot Cellars offers. This approach is very successful in today’s market and, as the promotional video above indicates, Blue Nun is back (if it ever really went away).

One key to the transformation was the Blue Nun herself. She was perhaps the one constant. Marketers saw the gentle, friendly nun on the label as a key marketing tool — memorable and and maybe especially appealing to women, who are a target market.

More Than Skin Deep

I was prowling the Wine Wall recently and I noticed that Blue Nun has had a makeover — and it’s more than just skin deep! The surface change is significant, however. The bottle is still blue, of course (but not for all the varieties – see images here). But the blue nun is now only a shadow of her former self — a small golden cameo medallion.

Blue Nun Makeover

The gold highlights a smaller gold seal that I thought must be a wine competition award of some sort (all the Barefoot bottles feature them), but turns out to be a seal of “Sichel Superior Vinification.” Good to know!

I guess the sleek modern look and gold accents must now be seen as a more powerful image than the kindly nun. But the change goes deeper than the label.

I was puzzled to see “Rivaner” on the label. “Now made from the classic Rivaner grape, it has more balance, softness and depth of fruit flavor.” That’s what it says on the back. More than Riesling? Really?

More Appetizing?

I wasn’t sure that I’d ever had a Rivaner wine before, so I rushed home to check out my copy of Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine:

Rivaner: another name for müller-thurgau, used in Luxembourg, where it is the most planted grape variety, and, increasingly, elsewhere. Rivaner sounds more appetizing.

And I suppose it does sound more appealing — or maybe just easier for a novice to pronounce. Am I the only wine veteran who didn’t know that  Müller-Thurgau is now Rivaner?

Blue Nun Delicate is another interesting innovation. With just 5.5% alcohol by volume, it rides the Moscato-powered low alcohol  wave (just fyi the Rivaner is only 10% abv).

I’m looking forward to twisting the cap on this bottle with a couple of my research assistants when they get back from a trip to the Northeast. Müller-Thurgau can make fine wine, but its general reputation is for quantity more than quality, especially in Germany. It is the most-planted variety is Rheinhessen, where this wine is from. In Vino Veritas, as they say. How deep is the Blue Nun’s makeover?

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I encourage readers to use the Comments section below to report their experiences with Blue Nun, both today and in the past, and to comment generally on the transformation. You might also be interested in these cooking videos from Blue Nun.
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8 responses

  1. Blue Nun may have a different label and a different grape (Muller-Thurgau) for their wine. But it is still a Qualitatswein (QBA). QBA is made from grape juice, sugar beet juice and water or sugar and water, and more grape juice added in the end (sweet reserve). The Germans call this headache wine. Usually if a German wine comes in a green bottle it is from the Mosel Region. If it comes in a brown bottle it is from the Rhine Region. If it comes in a blue bottle, frosted bottle, cat bottle or any other type bottle the wine usually comes from the shit that is left over from making the Pradikatswein… Pradikatswein (Kabinett, Spatlese etc) can not contain any sugar beet/water or sugar/water. For a few dollars more you can enjoy a Pradikatswein.
    BUYER BEWARE…..

    • and who is their customer? they are less than 10% of the volume of the #1 German (Schmitt Sohne), but their website looks like they are going after people who have lost their minds, in this case: women who are laughing at what appears to be nothing at all. another sure sign of insanity. like drinking this wine.
      i can’t imagine ‘kids’ being interested in anything with reference to a nun.
      and what’s with the ads from the 70’s? trying to make the ‘nun’ look sexy? i’m surprised the church didn’t completely flip out over that.

      and don’t even get me started on red wines from Germany…Merlot? Dornfelder? It’s like growing grapes in western Washington. it’s possible, but is never a good idea.

  2. Blue Nun gets a bad wrap. It was a nice starter wine for me. Like how Smirnoff Ice or Pabst functions at frat parties. And you never hear people getting all snob-tastic and hating on those lush beverages. They are what they are. And that video…is…funny. But I’m curious, Mike, to hear if you and the expert clan found the wine to have changed under the masthead of their somewhat drab re-brand.

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