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What Is Icewine?

Indulge in Winter's liquid gold - that is Icewine. Find out what it tastes like, the winemaking process, and food pairings to elevate your experience.

mission hill vidal ice wine

Mounds of snow have finally made their way to BC meaning Icewine harvest has started for BC wineries. Icewine is an amazing winter phenomenon that is best described as “liquid gold” because of its golden colour, high price and rarity. Countries like Canada and Germany are known as the hubs of Icewine production, having the perfect weather conditions for it. Fun Fact: Canada made a name for itself in the wine world thanks to Icewine. Over the years, Canada has continued to keep high standards for their Icewine production to ensure that the quality consumers get in the bottle is none other than perfection – one of the reasons you pay a hefty price for a small bottle of Canadian Icewine.


A glass of Icewine on a chilly winter day makes for a perfect treat with its rich flavours, high acidity, and pronounced sweetness. It’s a luxurious dessert on its own or with a sweet pairing. Let’s delve deeper into the world of Icewine - what it tastes, the winemaking process, and food pairings.


What does Icewine taste like?

Icewine is classified as a dessert wine. It’s exceptionally sweet, aromatic, and concentrated, with a luscious mouthfeel, and texture reminiscent of maple syrup. The high acidity balances the sugar content, while the alcohol content typically remains lower than 11-12%, providing an overall enjoyable experience for wine novices and experts.


Both white and red grape varietals are used to make Icewine, with the most common varieties being Vidal, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. White Icewines boast an amber gold hue (hence, the liquid gold description) and carry ripe notes of apricot, honey, orange blossom, and tropical fruit. In contrast, red Icewines have a deep ruby colour carrying notes of ripe cherries, blackberries, and raspberries. Icewine can be enjoyed young, but have a lot of potential with aging due to the high sugar content that helps to naturally preserve the wine. As these wines age, the colours become darker and browner, and the fruit notes transition into nuances of dried fruit, nuts, and candy.


How Is Icewine Made?

How Is Ice Wine Made?

The process of making Icewine is unique and intricate, yet difficult and labour-intensive. Unlike table wines, Icewine grapes are harvested in the middle of winter. In Canada, grapes must be picked at -8 °C to be deemed Icewine. Harvesting happens during the night to ensure that the grapes remain frozen and don’t thaw from the warmth of the sun. Once picked, the grapes must be pressed at the same -8 °C, making it challenging to extract the grape juice. This process leaves behind a block of ice, as a large portion of the grapes remain unused. Harvest and pressing must occur within a few short hours. After, the wine goes into fermentation and aging, which follow a similar process to table wines.


What Food Pairs With Icewine?

While you savour your liquid gold, pair it with desserts. For cheese lovers, soft-aged cheeses like blue cheese go wonderfully with Icewine. For those with a sweet tooth, fruit or chocolate desserts like chocolate mousse and passionfruit tarts make a fine pairing cheesecake. For a more classic pairing, opt for cheesecake, crème brulee, or vanilla ice cream.


All in all, the wine-making process and flavour profile of Icewine make it a unique wine that stands out from the competition. Icewine is not just any dessert wine, it’s a luxurious dessert that showcases the beautiful essence of winter. I hope you’ve learned something new from this blog and have gained a few found appreciation for what’s in your glass. Cheers!

 

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