icewine – a canadian tradition

icewine grapes

There are actually two wine regions here in Canada, one of which is only a couple hours from where we live, and they produce icewine there.  Icewine is a dessert wine that is much sweeter than table wine (and not in a bad way).  What they do is leave the grapes out on the vine until they freeze which requires an outdoor air temperature of -8C (17F) for three days.  Then they press the grapes when they are still frozen.  This freezing is what causes the sweetness.

This past weekend my husband and I trekked off to Niagara-On-The-Lake where they hold an annual icewine festival.  We visited four different vineyards to taste their wares Konzelmann Estate Winery, Reif Estate Winery, Inniskillin Wines, and Hernder Estate Wines.  And the delights we had were lovely!

eskimo kisses - icewine treat

At Konzelmann Estate Winery they made little treats called “Eskimo Kisses”, which consisted of a decadent Belgium chocolate cup, kissed with a dollop of Gelato, then crowned with their illustrious Rare Winter Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine.  They were very tasty!

icewine smores

Next we visited Reif Estate Winery, which served our favourite icewine of the day coupled with our favourite sugary snack.  A local pastry shop made icewine marshmallows and the winery used them to make smores!  Devine!  I had no idea that marshmallows could be so good!  They served them with their Vidal Icewine, which was so good we ended up bringing a bottle home.

Inniskillin Wines was next on the agenda where we took a self-guided tour through the icewine making process.  First we sampled a bubbly icewine – very festive, especially so when served outside.  Our second stop was out in the vineyard where there were still a few frozen grapes out on the vine.  Then we headed down to the cellar to try two more icewines, one of which was infused with strawberry, where we learnt about the history of making icewine.  Everyone there was so knowledgeable and loved to share the icewine story with us!  If you have three minutes you should check out this beautiful video on their site: www.inniskillin.com/en/ice/video.htm

The last stop of our day was at Hernder Estate Wines in St. Catharines.  They use their icewine to make a fiery Red Pepper Icewine Jelly, which was nicely complimented by their Vidal Icewine.  A great combination of hot and sweet.

If you like wine you should definitely see if you can track down some icewine.  It’s usually available in the LCBO here in Ontario and I’ve heard that elsewhere it may be easier to locate during the Christmas season.

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