Blue Nun is back. And she has bling.
Wine lovers of a certain age will remember Blue Nun Liebfraumilch, the popular white wine that took America by storm in the 1970s and 1980s. The Liebfraumilch, an off-dry nondescript white blend, disappeared in the late ’90s, but Blue Nun didn’t. The brand’s current push is with the Blue Nun 24K Gold Edition, a sparkling wine dusted with flakes of edible gold leaf.
You can probably hear my inner wine geek screaming, “NOOO!” Why try to dazzle us with flimflammery like gold leaf instead of putting a better wine in the bottle? And what if we get gold leaf stuck in our teeth?
“Better than spinach,” says Mark Tramont, U.S. representative for F.W. Langguth Erben, the German firm that has owned and produced the Blue Nun brand since 1996. There is also a Blue Nun Riesling and a wine called Authentic White, made from a German grape called rivaner. The 24K Gold Edition sparkler, which retails for $15, was introduced to the U.S. market in 2017 and is now distributed in 38 states, including in the Mid-Atlantic.
Joking aside, Tramont explains the 24K Gold Edition is aimed at the way many people drink wine today. “Our core audience is millennials, first-time wine drinkers aged 30 to 45, predominantly female, looking for something easy to drink and not caring if it came from the Left Bank or the Right Bank,” he told me in a phone interview. That was a reference to Bordeaux, and how wine geeks like to suss out the subtle differences between a Pauillac and a Pomerol.
“It’s a wine you can ‘pregame’ with, a drink before the main event,” Tramont says. “When friends come over, get the evening started before going out on the town.”
The Blue Nun 24K Gold Edition is a nonvintage blend of white wines sourced throughout the European Union, but primarily from Germany. The blend varies from batch to batch, as the winemakers aim for a consistent style, and it features 32 grams of residual sugar per liter, which Tramont describes as “less than moscato or asti spumante.”
But what about that gold? “It’s like a snow globe,” my wife said as she twisted and turned a bottle up and down and the flakes fluttered through the wine. Tramont said adding the gold was the tricky part in producing the wine and required a proprietary process.
“Edible gold leaf is very thin and light,” he explained. “When you shred it, it tends to float away in the air.” The gold is added after the wine is carbonated (a process similar to prosecco, not champagne, where the bubbles are produced by a second fermentation in the bottle).
So how to get that gold from the bottom of the bottle into your glass? You obviously don’t want to shake the wine before popping the cork, or you’ll be wiping gold off your floor.
“Chill the wine really good, then after you pop the cork, gently swirl the bottle,” Tramont explains. “If you hold it by the neck, and roll your wrist around, you’ll see the gold come up immediately. As soon as it starts swirling it comes up to the top, then pour a little shot and top it off. You’ll get the gold.”
The last glass of the bottle will get the most gold flakes, Tramont says, adding that “people wait in line at tastings” hoping to taste the dregs. What other wine can claim that?
I followed Tramont’s instructions while pouring two glasses, and indeed a few gold flakes flickered in each glass. My wife and I swirled, sniffed and sipped, struggling to suppress our skepticism.
“It isn’t bad,” she said. Indeed, it was a nondescript, off-dry white wine, much like the Liebfraumilch of old, but with bubbles and glitter.
Blue Nun was created in 1921, after all. For an iconic brand approaching its century mark, why not celebrate with a little jewelry?