…The wine that lets your tongue escape
Your Inhibitions disappear…Nancy E Alcorn
What does it taste like?
Ice wine is intensely flavored wine, with aromas and flavors of stone and tropical fruit (apricot, peach, lychee, papaya, mango) when made from white grape varieties. Red wines tend more towards strawberry, cherry, red currant and pomegranate profiles to name a few.
How is ice wine made?
Now, imagine you are a winemaker somewhere in Canada. The harvest occurs long after the grapes are ripe. When the temperature goes down (you know how winter in Canada is, don’t ya?), you have to pick the grapes, preferably at night or early in the morning and quickly press them while they are still frozen. Why frozen grapes? The sugars inside the grape do not freeze, but the water does. After pressing the grapes, water together with seeds and skin is left out, and we get pure sweet, honey-like concentrated juice. It’s so sweet that it slows down fermentation, which sometimes takes months to complete (compared to days or weeks for regular wine), resulting in a smaller amount of concentrated, very sweet wine with relatively low alcohol content (only 8-9%).
What grape varieties are used to produce ice wine?
Technically, any grape variety can be used to make ice wine, including reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. However, most of the ice wine in Canada is made of white grape varieties, such as Vidal or Riesling.
Canada is one of the biggest producers of ice wine along with Germany, Austria, and the United States.
How to serve ice wine?
Enjoy it before a meal, with your favorite vodka and a couple of frozen grapes for an amazing Ice wine Martini. During the meal, pair it with rich and strong in flavor foods, such as foie gras, pâté, prosciutto & melon or aged blue cheese. After a meal, have it with a dessert or make it alone, the dessert.
Whichever way you drink it, serve it chilled (8-10 C, 45-50F) and let it warm slowly.
Be ready to pay over $40
Lower yield and difficulty of production process make ice wine significantly more expensive than regular wine. On average, it takes as many as 4-5 times more grape to make ice wine.
If you are planning a wine trip to Ontario, check out this wine route planner and wineries to visit.
Ice Wine Recommendations:
2014 Vidal ‘Oak Aged’ Icewine, Peller Estate VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
A beautiful bouquet of honey, candied nuts, sweet spice and exotic fruit; tropical fruit explosion on the palate (lychee, banana, melon, papaya). Amazing acidity alleviates the sweetness and softens syrupy mouthfeel leaving a refreshing finish. The wine is aged in older French and American oak barrels for added complexity.
2014 Cabernet Franc Icewine, Peller Estate VQA Niagara–on-the-Lake
Luscious on the palate with flavors of pomegranate and cherry. Soft and supple tannins and the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity provide great mouth-feel. Ageing in older French oak barrels (10% of wine) gives complexity and elevates the flavor.
Other recommended producers of ice wine: Inniskillin
Where to Buy
NYC: Astor Wine & Spirits in Greenwich Village has by far the biggest choice, also available online.
Anywhere else: try www.wine.com
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