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Icewine 101

Five Facts You Need to Know Before Sipping

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Photo by Craig Hatfield

By Venetia Bodanis

With the popularity of Icewine on the rise, it’s practically impossible to ignore the drink popping up in storefront windows all over the city. It’s tempting to purchase a bottle of this decadent treat after peering into wine shops on the Danforth. But before splurging (some Icewines can cost up to $70), take some time to learn the key facts about this cold winter treat.

1. It’s Not Just a Dessert Wine

If you know what your options are, Icewine can be one of the most versatile wines on the market. It can be blended with brandy to make a liqueur, used as an ingredient to create savoury sauces and reductions, and even pairs nicely with various cheeses like Gorgonzola and Roquefort. That being said, don’t pair Icewine with something sweeter than the beverage itself, otherwise its taste will be outshined.

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Photo by Avatarshark

Here are some excellent pairings:

  • Fresh summer berries with cream
  • Chocolate biscuits
  • Creme Brule, pear tart, mousse cake
  • Cheeses (consult this chart)

2. Finish the Bottle within a Few Days

If you’ve already indulged in a glass, be sure to drink the rest of it within three to five days after opening. High sugar content and exposure to air are Icewine’s worst enemies. Be sure to re-cork it tightly and store it in the refrigerator to save it for later in the week. As a side note, if the bottle is unopened, and you store it in a constantly cool, cellar-like environment, Icewine can be kept properly for many years.

3. Bigger is Better

It might seem like a small detail but having the right glass is essential when you’re serving a $100 bottle of Icewine. Icewine is best served chilled, in wide-bowled stemware (approximately nine ounce glasses). So forget the tiny liqueur glasses if you’re serving the Icewine straight; instead opt for a larger bowl—this will allow the flavours and aromas to intensify.

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Photo by Craig Hatfield

4. Beware of Fakes

With the growing Icewine market, there has been a major spike in imitations that artificially freeze grapes and sweeten them later. To help avoid buying a fake, look for the word “Icewine” spelled as a single word instead of two (“ice wine”) and make sure the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) logo is displayed on the bottle.

5. Sip Slowly, and Enjoy!

This one is pretty self-explanatory; take the time to fully appreciate your purchase. Invite over some friends to share in the experience, and ask them to bring along some of these excellent food pairings.

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