Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Blue Nun, the most successful German wine brand, and for most of the 20th century a liebfraumilch owned by H. sichel Söhne of Mainz. It was launched with the 1921 vintage in 1923 as a more accessible product than the host of German bottles adorned with Gothic script and long, complicated names. A label was developed for the easy, medium-dry style of young white wine sold in inns throughout Germany which initially showed several nuns in brown habits against a bright blue sky. The label, and subsequently the brand, became known as Blue Nun, featuring a single, alluring nun in a blue habit. Long before mateus Rosé, Blue Nun became a substantial commercial success as a result of heavy investment in advertising which preyed on the fears of what was then an unsophisticated wine drinking public. Blue Nun was advertised as the wine you could drink ‘right through the meal’, thereby solving the awkward problem of food and wine matching. It began to grow rapidly, mainly in Britain and America, in the 1950s when German wines enjoyed greater prestige than they do today and Blue Nun commanded about the same price as a second growth red bordeaux. At its zenith, in 1984/5, annual sales in the US alone were 1.25 million cases, with a further 750,000 cases sold elsewhere. Quality was reliably high, despite the quantities needed to satisfy world sales, and blending at the Mainz headquarters was conscientiously undertaken. A static wine market, economic recession, and increasing sophistication on the part of wine consumers saw worldwide sales fall to well under a million cases in the 1990s. H. Sichel Söhne and the Blue Nun brand were bought by F. W. Langguth Erben in 1995. The brand was relaunched and by 2014 its principal variants were Riesling (in bottle and box), ‘Authentic White’, and Sweet Red.