IT IS not all glamour being a wine writer.
Blue Nun is about as fashionable as bubble perms, kipper ties and progressive rock. The mere mention of it in certain circles is enough to bring tears of laughter. Steve Coogan didn't need to look very far when he wanted a wine for his hapless Alan Partridge character. Partridge's favourite tipple - "just half a bottle of Blue Nun" - has now worked its way into the comedy drinks hall of fame alongside Del Boy's pia colada and David Brent's Reading-brewed lager.
But times change. Only a few years ago the very idea of ballroom dancing seemed as outrageously naff as a Soda Stream or ros wine, and we all know what has happened with Strictly Come Dancing, to say nothing of ros. You couldn't move last summer for wine hacks salivating over the rebirth of the stuff. For my own part, I cannot remember ever tasting so many bottles of pink wine.
So is Blue Nun going to be the must-have wine this summer, the bottle seen at the coolest parties? Probably not. But when I read that members of Coldplay were drinking the stuff, I decided to conduct my own tasting - then put it off until after the holiday.
For all its recent troubles, Blue Nun is still a phenomenal success story. Created in the 1930s by H Sichel Sohne, of Mainz, its appeal lay in its simple marketing message. Recognising the huge international market for Germany's easy-drinking, gluggable white wine, Sohne developed a label that would stand out from the complicated gothic creations so popular with German winemakers. Its simple image of a nun helped differentiate it from its peers. Success quickly grew. At the height of its popularity (mid-1970s), it was selling two million bottles a year - no mean feat, and the quality in every bottle was, if not interesting, at least reliable.
This year its current owners have expanded the range to include a French merlot and a ros, bringing the portfolio to four. Drinking the original, it is clear why it was so popular. It's delicate, has an attractive honeyed nose, with traces of elderflower and violets, and the clean, off-dry finish so beloved of thousands of wine drinkers. Ditto the riesling, but it has a fuller, drier finish. The ros has the body and longevity to stand up to food, but the merlot rather disappoints, tasting a little too hard.
Okay, so it's not the most sophisticated wine, but compared with some of the filth sloshing around at the same price, Blue Nun is eminently quaffable. Perhaps it's time it came back into fashion.
1 Blue Nun Original 2004, 10%, 3.99
So what's all the fuss about? This has a pale hay colour, with a delicate, attractive nose that smells of damp elderflower and freshly peeled apple. On the palate there is a honeyed, full finish with refreshing acidity. Very moreish.
2 Blue Nun Original Riesling 2005, 12%, 4.99
The nose is quite closed, with a hint of apples and citrus fruit. The palate is drier than in the original, with a heavier finish.
3 Blue Nun Original Ros 2004, 13%, 4.49
With soft cherries on the palate, good acidity and balance, this is extremely quaffable for under 5.
4 Blue Nun Original Merlot 2004, 13%, 3.99
Spicy, plumy and rich, this lacks the balance and charm of the whites but retains the drinkability.
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