Blue Nun, Black Tower, and Pixie’s Pee

15 Feb

Over the weekend I was reading Graham Norton’s memoir “The Life and Loves of a He Devil”.

It was startling to realise that Graham and I had similar upbringings, even though we’re different sexes and were raised on opposite sides of the world.

The thing that made me laugh the most was his comment that in Ireland during his childhood there appeared to be only three wines available: Blue Nun, Black Tower and Mateus Rose.

Those wines are pretty much central to celebrations during my childhood too.  My dad had a burning dislike of Mateus Rose.  He always referred to it as Pixie’s Pee.  The one occasion I took a surreptitious sip from my mother’s glass, I immediately agreed with him and came to the conclusion that the pixie in question needed to see a urologist urgently.  I’ve never attempted to drink it again.  Just the sight of a bottle gives me tremulous shudders of disgust.

Blue Nun was another I felt had a picture of the factory on the bottle!  It was the most appalling wine I had ever tasted when I was young.  I was strongly convinced that they’d put vinegar in a wine bottle by accident.  Blue Nun is probably the reason that I am not overly fond of dry white wines these days.

Black Tower was a different proposition.  I loved the vaguely medieval styled label on the bottle and the wine was sweet enough to appeal to my palate without being cloying.  A romantic through and through I would sip away daydreaming that I was actually drinking the popular medieval sweet wine rhenish.  No idea if Black Tower is a literal descendant, but it was certainly a romantic one in my book.  It’s also the reason that I have no time for wine snobs.  Just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it tastes good, in my book.  Black Tower is the only white wine I view fondly.  Mention Black Tower to a wine connoisseur and watch them have a hissy fit of epic proportions.

In New Zealand there was a fourth wine making a quartet of cheap and cheerful wines.  This was a sparkling red known as Cold Duck.  My father, the evil bugger that he was, solemnly informed me that Cold Duck was made from the distilled, fermented blood of frozen ducks!  It was a wine that most bottle shops turned a blind eye to underage individuals purchasing.  They knew that there was no way kids could get drunk on it.  It wasn’t in the system long enough for the alcohol to take effect.  Two glasses and you’d be heaving up the whole horrible fizzy mess.

Graham’s book made me feel more than a little nostalgic.  I wonder if the local bottle shop has Black Tower?

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