In the 1980s, the German company that produced Blue Nun exported 2 million cases of the cheap, sweetish white wine, making it the YellowTail of its day. In this, it was supposed to be the fabled gateway wine — something that would introduce non-wine drinkers to wine. Then, they would progress from Blue Nun to dry wine wine and eventually turn into smart, sophisticated, and savvy wine drinkers.
That never happened (and, as I discuss in the cheap wine book, probably never will). Blue Nun, like all potential gateway wines, whether white zinfandel or YellowTail, reached its peak and hit a plateau, and consumers moved on to something else. Blue Nun is still around and still sells millions of cases, but it’s not what it was.
How big was Blue Nun then? I had dinner at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in 1982 in the swanky upstairs dining room, and six or eight people at the table next to us were drinking Blue Nun. That they ordered it at one of the world’s great restaurants and which had an equally great wine list speaks to how comfortable it made those diners feel. Because, of course, Blue Nun was the white wine that’s correct with any dish – a brilliant marketing slogan for U.S. wine drinkers hung up on wine and food pairings, and just as true now as then.
Not all of the wine’s marketing was that good, as this TV commercial from 1985 – when it was on its downhill slide — demonstrates (courtesy of xntryk1 at YouTube):