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The Freeze feast

I first tasted ice wine a few years back, when my brother-in-law, who lives in Canada, got a bottle for us. The drink was gorgeous, and I was a convert. So when I went visiting them in Toronto (Canada), I simply had to take a tour to the ice-wine vineyards.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2011 00:58 IST
Rupali Dean

I first tasted ice wine a few years back, when my brother-in-law, who lives in Canada, got a bottle for us. The drink was gorgeous, and I was a convert. So when I went visiting them in Toronto (Canada), I simply had to take a tour to the ice-wine vineyards.

Sweet nectar
The best ice wine in the world is made at the Niagara peninsula. I stopped at Niagara on the Lake’s Inniskillin — the winery that put Canadian ice wine on the map. It is a delight to gain insight into the complexities of this wine. The tasting lasted 10 minutes, but I discovered a lot more. The grapes are left on the vines through the winter, until as late as January, long after the harvest in September. The grapes have to be picked at night to ensure that they are still below freezing (8 and -12 degree Celsius). The frozen grapes are then pressed and the frozen water discarded so that what you have is merely a drop of nectar from each grape, which is then fashioned into wine.

The result is very concentrated, rich, sweet golden nectar. It takes a lot more grapes to make a bottle of ice wine than the normal wine. Hence, the price is much steeper. It’s quite an interesting process, and the wine you get is really sweet and fruity — most definitely a dessert wine.

Dessert pairing
Wine is usually served as an aperitif or as a toast at the end of a meal. Ice wine is naturally acidic, and that’s the reason why it makes for a really good food match. I think it works best with desserts, such as bread and butter pudding, jam pancakes and even an apricot tart. It even makes for a great ingredient for creating some of the most decadent desserts in a jiffy. Most people reserve ice wine only for tasting, but I can assure you it would be the perfect drink for your next cocktail, brunch or
vacation party.

Ice wine facts
* The story of the remarkable "Eiswein" aka "ice wine" or "Vin du Glace" began in Germany
*Canada and Germany are the best-known producers of high-end ice wines, with Canada, in particular Ontario, being the largest ice wine manufacturer internationally
*Ice wine vintages are usually produced by Riesling grapes in Germany and Vidal and Cabernet Franc grapes in Canada
*Georg Riedel, a 10th generation glass blower, created the Vinum Extreme ice wine glass for a great drinking experience
*Ice wine is not a dessert wine.