Ice wine has come a long way and is worth savouring

Why not icewine?

Maybe you opened a sweeter wine of some kind over the holiday season as a special treat, perhaps a Port or Sauternes.

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ve had a taste of good Aszu from the Tokaji region of Hungary. But if you have a bottle of Canadian icewine on the shelf—better yet local B.C. one (no offense to our compatriots in other provinces)— it might be time to pull the cork as we wade into a murky 2022. Why let it continue to gather dust?

Icewine has been a coveted gift for wine lovers around the world who, up to now, have only heard of this sweet Canadian nectar. Sharing it means appreciating the somewhat intense process to get it in the bottle:

• The grapes must be left on the vine to freeze naturally

• Winemakers, vineyard managers and their friends head out to pick when the temperature is at -8 C or lower.

• These grape gems must be transported as quickly as possible from picking to the press so they remain frozen;

• The water in the grapes freezes, leaving the sugars and a much smaller amount of juice to “harvest.”

So, if you’re mostly camping out at home, buying a bottle at a local wine shop or tasting room (wineries may be on winter hours, check in advance) and hunker down for an evening.

Icewine has come a long way from sticky sweet to now elegantly balanced and intriguing bottles. It can be made from many different of grape varietals, and yes, it can be on the pricey side. But it’s worth savouring, so enjoy.

Ex Nihilo Vineyards 2018 Riesling: This varietal gives this wine an almost refreshing acidity, balanced with the sweetness you’d expect. Peach, pineapple and honey notes. Pair with a panna cotta of your choosing.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2015 Pinot Noir: A sip will take you back to summer flavours of strawberries and cherries, but as if they were put together in an exquisite jam. Contrast the sweetness with a selection of aged cheeses.

Grizzli Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc: A winner of multiple international awards, the colour is a surprising golden hue and this wine is definitely for dessert. Pair with an apple tart or, as the winery suggests, a fruit trifle.

Bench 1775 2017 Bliss: A blend of Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris, it’s truly unique. Tropical fruit notes, lemon curd, and baked apple notes. A savoury pairing with soft Camembert, or a sweet pairing with cheesecake.

Gehringer Bothers 2019 Cabernet Franc: If you lean towards Port, give this a try. Flavours of blackberry freezer jam and chocolate covered cherries. Pair with a variety of dark chocolates and roasted nuts.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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