There is some mystic that revolves around the ever sought after “Canadian Icewine”. As luxurious as this wine might be, enjoying it isn’t nearly as complicated as some may think. Many people are caught off guard by its’ sweet taste, thick viscosity or intriguing bottle shape. But take these steps and your Icewine experience is bound to be unforgettable.
1.Keep it Cool.
With the word “ice” right in its’ name, it should act as an indication of the temperature this wine should be served at. Chill the wine as much as possible before serving, in fact, a good 30min in the freezer will do nicely. The reason why Icewine must be consumed at low temperatures is to ensure the proper mouth feel of the wine. The warmer Icewine gets the more syrupy it will feel. You lose the crispness of the wine and its’ refreshing finish. The acidity seems to soften, which can make the wine taste much more sweet. Without the coolness, the Icewine falls flat.
There is a proper Icewine glass, created in collaboration with the “God Father” of Icewine , Donald Ziraldo (co-funder of Inniskillin Winery) and Georg Riedel, of Riedel glassware. The shape of the glass ensures the wine hits the back of the moth or tongue first and then slowly reaches the front of your mouth, where the majority of our sweet preceptors are. This experience adds to the complexity of the flavours, but the essential point here is to pick a glass that is not too large. You only want a few ounces in your glass, and when you drink it try and tip your glass back, so that the Icewine falls towards your mid-to back palate . This slows down the perception of sweetness, and will allow the flavours to gradually build within the senses.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Icewine is that it is only served at dessert and with sweet foods. This could not be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, Icewine is a diverse wine, because of its pronounced levels of acidity. Acids in the wine help to cleanse the palate making this wine surprisingly food friendly. Food pairings can make or break wine, and this is exactly the case when it comes to Icewine. Some people don’t know how to pair it, and a bottle will go to waste without any experimentation. One key to remember when pairing Icewine is this ; “opposites attract”. When you have a wine which is sweet, why not balance it out with something salty. The two extremes contrast each other and therefore complement each other. We all know how addictive salty & sweet foods can be, and the experience is achieved through Icewine and cheese. Just try a nibble of blue cheese with a crisp Vidal Icewine, and you’ll never look at either the same again. And if cheese isn’t your weapon of choice, try Cabernet France Icewine with bitter yet rich dark chocolate. The bitterness will lighten as a result of the sweetness and it will be a sensory experience to remember.
4. An Open Mind
Icewine doesn’t have to be serious and often times the best experiences surrounding this wine is the result of fun. Try mixing it up; make an Icewine Martini (1 oz. Volkda, 2 oz. Icewine garnish with frozen grapes), drop a little into a glass of champagne for a touch of sweetness, drizzle it over cheesecake or a bowl of fruit. The overriding key is to keep an open mind, let yourself try something new, learn from the experience and enjoy your own creative juices. Life is always better with a touch of sweetness!