Blue Nun, for those too young to remember it, is a sweet white German wine. It was a popular tipple in the 1970s and early 80s, writes Valdez.
Young working class people more accustomed to strong regional beers used it as their gateway to the heady world of wine. It was after all a mainstay of middle class dinner parties, and must have cost about £2.
The tell-tale tapered bottle of Liebfraumilch has been much on my mind recently. Two years ago I was invited to be Best Man for an old army friend. Covid ensured the ceremony was endlessly postponed.
I had to come up with some funny stories from our misspent youth many of which focused on drinking sessions with Blue Nun in Britain’s then nascent Chinese-Indian restaurant business after the pubs had closed.
I also thought I’d try and buy a bottle to take as a present.
A quick search of the internet suggested Blue Nun was alive and well. Sadly though it had lost its iconic label of Nuns picking grapes.
My search indicated it had been re branded but was available in a Lewisham food store.
I presented myself at the customer service desk. There a bemused staff member struggled to understand my request.
Then luckily a member of staff about 10 years younger than me appeared. He
remembered the wine and we spent a full 10 minutes discussing its virtues, and the restaurants and parties we’d drunk it at.
Sadly he said it wasn’t stocked in the shop but I should try their branch in Catford. So through Ladywell Fields I walked on a beautiful spring morning to Catford.
Sadly the Catford food store had no Blue Nun – nor a nice member of staff happy to reminisce with a pensioner about party’s of yesteryear.
So in desperation I tried one of Catford’s Off Licences. On the doors and windows of the store were the fading signs from the Covid war – only two people allowed in at a time, face masks must be worn, cash only, follow arrows round store.
Was it really only two years since we’d dropped into the Covid trenches? When I made it into the shop a helpful man behind the counter remembered the wine.
It was the wine he and his father had first sold not long after they arrived in Britain and we chatted about the wine and the 1970s take away trade for an age.
But sadly he did not have any. But he would think about restocking it.
Just before the wedding, the groom and I along with a couple of mates stood outside Swindon Crematorium to bid farewell to an old friend J who we’d shared a few Blue Nun sessions with.
He’d spent over 40 years paralysed from the waist down after being wounded while serving his country. But J had never seen himself as a victim nor disabled. Instead he’d forged successful careers – first as a computer sciences lecturer and later in a computer business. He had continued to enjoy the occasional tipple with us.
At the wedding I told my Blue Nun stories and confessed, that despite my very best efforts, I had failed to purchase a bottle. As we sat around until the early hours telling the old stories, toasting our departed mate and wishing the groom well all that was missing was the Blue Nun.