By Stacy Wyatt
IceWine is uniquely Canadian. Well known by connoisseurs worldwide, Icewine still remains a mystery for most Canadians who are unfamiliar with the celebrated beverage in the tall skinny bottle.
Making Icewine is a detailed and complex process that starts during harvest when the winemaker decides which grapes are going to be left on the vines until winter’s deep freeze hits. There they will stay until late December or January — exactly when they are picked is determined by Mother Nature when she graces the vineyard with three or four days where the temperature stays below -8°C. The grapes, which by then resemble little-frozen marbles, are hand-picked and pressed while frozen to extract a small amount of sweet, concentrated nectar — typically yielding about 15% of what those grapes would have produced had they been picked during the earlier table wine harvest. Following the unique harvesting procedures, Icewines are fermented and aged in the same process as a regular dinner wine then bottled in their signature tall bottles and the sweet treat is ready to enjoy!
Icewine comes with a little mystery and many may be missing out on the experience of enjoying it themselves or including it in their events, So to help inform our readers, we asked Scott McGregor, award-winning Winemaker atLakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits to reveal some of the best-kept secrets behind the wine. If anyone knows Icewine, it’s Scott. Recently, one of his creations – the Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine won a Gold Medal and Best Value distinction at the 2017 InterVin International Wine Awards. Not only did this Icewine score highly in the Red Icewine category – it also received top honours with “Best Dessert Wine” in the show– being among the top four scores of over 1200 entries from around the world.
Many people assume Icewine to be too sweet for their palate – perhaps comparing the sweetness in maple syrup,” says Scott. In fact, this is not the case. Great wine has a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity, with concentrated flavours and fantastic pairing opportunities.
One of most common questions is how is it stored? According to Scott, it will keep for several years stored in the right conditions — on a slant to keep the cork wet, away from vibrations and with a consistent temperature around 12-15°C. Once the bottle is opened, you should enjoy it within three to five days.
Another concern is around serving the wine. Scott shares that Icewines are ideally enjoyed chilled between 10-12°C, so your bottle may need some time in the fridge. It is finicky about the temperature so take your time. Too warm and it will lose its crispness; too cold and it cuts the aroma. Due to how sweet and rich it is, about two ounces per glass should suffice. Also, ditch the skinny dessert glasses. To fully enjoy the aromas, use a standard white wine glass that will allow the wine to breathe and give you space to swirl the wine before enjoying it. Pro tip – chill the wine glasses in the fridge for 10 minutes before pouring.
Another HUGE misconception; you do not need to serve it for dessert. Icewine is a perfect pairing for seafood or other main course dishes that involve something caramelized. If you do decide to pair it, the first rule is you don’t want the dessert to be sweeter than the wine. If you have a white, enjoy it with fruit-based desserts while red is exquisite with dark chocolate. They are also ideal for a variety of cheeses — blue-veined, triple cream, goat cheese, washed rind cheeses, aged cheeses, salty parmesan. If pairing with a main course, go spicy — Thai, Indian, Mexican or Creole. It’s a nice balance to the sweetness of the wine and may help cool off a burning palate.
Lakeview wines where you can find Scott, is one of Niagara’s largest wineries, offering a marvelous variety of international award-winning Icewines, among its tremendous assortment of traditional fine wines. A well-respected part of the Ontario wine industry landscape and a much-loved Niagara business, Lakeview Wines has been producing multiple award-winning wine brands since 1991.
For event planners, there are many ways to take advantage of the offerings of this wonderful, local business. For group tours and live events, they have a stunning event space. Set on the winery floor amongst a canyon of over 800 wine barrels and massive 2-storey wine tanks this unique 1,000sq. ft. education centre, provides a memorable, unmatched introduction to the winemaking process and a one-of-a-kind Cellar Floor Experience. perfect for groups or intimate gatherings.
For high-end corporate gifts the product choices are abundant and for your wedding or fundraiser consider choosing to serve a truly Canadian wine.
To learn more about Lakeview Wines and view their collection, visit www.lakeviewwineco.com.