Celebrate the Fruit of the Vine at Home With These Icewine Pairings
Bring the romance of the vineyard to your home with these tips to create your own ice wine festival. Photo: Courtesy of Inniskillin
Of all wine-producing regions in the world, Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula is the only one that consistently has proper climate – warm summers and cold, sharp winters – required to produce icewine every year.
The grapes used for this intensely flavoured dessert wine are allowed to naturally freeze on the vine and can only be picked when temperatures reach -8 C or below to maintain maximum freshness and high sugar content.
The first icewine, eiswein, has been traced to Germany when, in 1794, an early frost froze grapes on the vine. The monks who tended the vineyard picked and pressed the frozen grapes in the hopes of salvaging what they could of the crop. Their reward was a sublime nectar that rivals some of the famous sweet wines of the world.
This year, the wine lovers behind the Niagara Icewine Festival have created the Discover Pass, which can be used for tastings over three consecutive weekends, beginning the weekend of February 18 (keeping in mind the current limited capacity restrictions).
If you can’t make it down to Niagara, you can still celebrate the fruits of the vine from your own home. Wine Country Ontario suggests that you throw your own icewine festival with a tasting, a cheese pairing and even making a curated cocktail.
Create a “tasting bar” by choosing from three grape varietals – the most easily accessible are from the Vidal, Riesling (both whites) and Cabernet Franc (red), but there are also some Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons.
A popular pick is the 2018 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine. This is an award-winning icewine with flavours of peach, candied citrus peel and honey. Winning the prestigious Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo in 1991 put Canada on the global wine map. Available at the LCBO, Wine Rack or Great Estates Niagara for $49.95/375 mL.
Add in a red icewine, such as Reif’s Cabernet Icewine Grand Reserve or Inniskillin’s Cabernet Franc Icewine, with red berry characteristics. Made from the vinifera grape, Inniskillin’s Cabernet Franc has aromas and flavours of strawberry. Available at the Wine Rack or Great Estates Niagara for $54.95/200 mL.
Icewine and Cheese
Pairing icewine with cheese is a match made in heaven. Balance out the sweet icewine with a savoury cheese like Roquefort or Gorgonzola. The crucial element to icewine is its balanced acidity, which is naturally complemented by cheeses that have salty and savoury flavours.
Icewine and Chill Cocktails
Yes, you read that right — cocktails! We like this one as it’s a nod to the ladies on Sex and the City … And Just Like That.
- 1 oz Vidal or Riesling icewine, such as Stratus Riesling Icewine
- 1 oz premium vodka
- ½ oz Grand Marnier
- 1 ½ oz cranberry juice
- ½ oz lime juice
- Citrus peel for garnish
Pour icewine, vodka, Grand Marnier, cranberry and lime juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a citrus peel.
Visit Wine Country Ontario for more information.