Blue Nun: can we ever return to a Seventies habit?

It joined prawn cocktail and black forest gateau as symbols of the decade that taste forgot. It was the wine that everyone loved to hate. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the disco, Glenda Cooper, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, reports on the return of that Seventies favourite - Blue Nun.
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The Independent Online
It was the 18th-century French gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin who once wrote that a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine. Presumably, he had never 0drunk Blue Nun.

The mainstay of the 1970s dinner party and national joke is back, now costing pounds 3.99, although its makers claim it has never been away.

Butt of gibes it might have been - the comedian Barry Took once joked that if had been withdrawn the British would have nothing to clean their hubcaps with - yet in the 1970s the wine was the market leader and we gulped down a million cases a year. By the mid-1990s this had fallen to fewer than 100,000.

"Obviously it had been around for a long time but the product had never really gone away." said Julian Eggar, marketing manager for Ehrmanns. "The brand had declined quite considerably since the 1970s and it was decided it needed updating."

But food writer Annie Bell was unsure whether it would succeed: "It's going back to that fondue, German wine and chicken kiev era of the 1970s. There is this retro trend at the moment but the difficulty for Blue Nun was that when it was popular in the Seventies there wasn't a lot of competition. Now there are an awful lot of wines around that are and I'm not even sure if sweet wine has come back into fashion."

To find out we asked a discerning panel of Independent journalists to blind taste Blue Nun, Riesling and Chablis (They were marked A, B and C).

Years of practice meant that Barrie Clement, Labour editor managed to name them all correctly (and drink them) in record-breaking time: "A, Blue Nun, - too sweet and all sherberty. B, Riesling - disgusting, tastes like something in an attic. C - this is Chablis."

Independent legal manager Louise Hayman was equally forthright in her analysis: "Urrgh. A is disgusting. It takes me back to disgusting flats in Putney and worrying about getting the nightbus home. B is a bit better (the Riesling) . But I really like C (the Chablis)."

But the two younger members of the panel had not developed as sophisticated palates. Louise Hancock dithered between the Riesling and the Blue Nun: "B is marginally worse than A I think ... oh no, I've smelt A again and that's worse." But Paul McCann, media correspondent, topped the lot: "They all taste the same," he proclaimed, adding "but then I never drink wine that costs less than pounds 18 a bottle, usually."

But Mr Eggar had a salutary word for people who were too snotty: "For all people say that they don't drink it, 120 million bottles of German medium sweet wine are sold each year so someone is drinking it."