Ice Wines

For the sweeter and more exotic palette, craving that special after-dinner treat, ice-wine is a great way to reward the palette and end a meal. This one has to be best served icy cold and chilled.

If you are in the region best known for producing quality ice-wine, like Canada, make the most of it! This is a much smaller vintage, due to the grapes being picked when frozen on the vines, processed with skins.

Looking for something a little different in your wine? Trying ice wines give you and your palette a journey and experience to access concentrated flavors at its peak and best. You can tap into especially the sugar in the grapes, making for a very sweet tasting wine. Ice wines are considered a dessert wine because of their sweet taste. They can either be served along with dessert or actually in place of dessert.

Canada and Germany are the countries best know for ice wines, however other countries do produce it. In order for the ice wine to be of the best quality, nature must cooperate. Most areas in the Unites States have fluctuating, less than ideal weather, so they do not lend themselves to producing consistent ice wine crops.

It can be done but not as consistently as in other countries that have a steady cold climate, at least for a specific period of time. As one would think, ice wines are best chilled but of course can be served at room temperature as well. Often called the nectar of nature and the Gods, harvested at the peak of perfection in the dead of winter (and at the risk of frostbite!), this is a labor of love. Vidal icewine (A French varietal) does very well globally. In Canada the Niagara peninsula and the BC Okanagan Valley are the most well known for this quality pleaser and crowd-favorite. Pinot Gris and Riesling also are used. Always check for the VQA seal and labeling to ensure that you are getting simply the best. This VQA designation (Vintners Quality Alliance) requires a professional tasting panel to approve each wine. Growing regions approved, or known as designated Viticultural Areas) in British Columbia, Canada, include the Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Fraser Valley and the Similkameen Valley.

Dessert, fortified, type wines are higher in sweet content and an acquired taste, like a noble special late harvest. In Germany known as EISWEIN, a type of Qualitätswein. Austria produces ice-wines. Concentrated sugars and flavors are captured, allowed to peak during freezing and thawing cycles, while the grapes are left on the vice until late frost. Quality and consistency with these wines are and have to be guaranteed and certified, with no artificial freezing permitted. Competing with nature`s creatures like birds and bears for this end or season feast and gift are not uncommon! Sugar varies with temperature – the colder the sweeter, the higher the sugar content (ideally harvested when temperatures are between -10 and -13 degrees Celsius.

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About The Author, Ian Love
Ian Love is director of Perth Restaurants group West Valley, which runs Coco's Perth restaurant, Raffles Hotel Perth & Bellhouse Seafood restaurant.