A Reason to Celebrate: Niagara Icewine

Last month marked the launch of Niagara’s famous Icewine Festival, dedicated to the region's famous drink. The annual three-week celebration included concerts, winery tours, food pairings, and, of course, samples of one of Canada's most well-known products.

Icewine is made by harvesting grapes by hand while they’re frozen, typically between the months of December and February. The water content inside the grapes freezes and separates from the juice when pressed, resulting in an extremely concentrated liquid. In fact, according to Wine Country Ontario, Icewine production requires about six or seven times the amount of grapes as regular table wine. Following the fermentation process, which can last several months, the Icewine is bottled and ready to drink.

Because of the time, and labour-intensive preparation, Icewines are generally more expensive than other varieties. A 375mL bottle, for instance, can cost you anywhere from $30-$80. That said, a little goes a long way due to its concentration and intensity; Icewine is best known for having bold tropical and citrus flavours with a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity.

Icewine is a great treat on its own, but if you’re feeling adventurous, there are many ways to incorporate it into everyday dishes. Below are a few simple suggestions.

Incorporate it in dressings and marinades. Mix Icewine with a neutral-tasting oil, some dijon mustard, and a splash of vinegar to liven up your leafy greens. Or try substituting some liquid with a few tablespoons of Icewine for your next pork roast.

Top off your dessert. Pair your Icewine with something less sweet for a more balanced flavour profile. Drizzle it over a slice of cheesecake, toss it with some fresh fruits, or pour it over some vanilla ice cream or even a soft cheese.

Shake up your cocktails. Icewine makes a great addition to most cocktails and drinks. Try mixing it with your favourite martini and have fun playing with different flavour combinations. If you need some inspiration, check out some of the recipes created by Wine Rack.