Icewine: Intensely sweet and indulgent

Rich, sweet and intensely flavourful, icewine is a true Canadian classic. Read on to find out how to serve and enjoy Canadian icewine.

How to serve icewine
6. Icewine fermentation is long (one to three months). Some are then aged in barrels, according to the winery's style.

7. Sparkling icewines exist, too. They are quite full-bodied and, not surprisingly, sweet.

8. In June 1991, Inniskillin won the Grand Prix trophy in Bordeaux, France, for its 1989 Vidal icewine. This put Canada on the world wine map and inspired other vintners. Now icewine is made by more than 50 wineries in Ontario, 30 in British Columbia, and a few in Quebec and Nova Scotia.

9. Icewines are highly sought after in the Far East, where a bottle can fetch up to three times the price it would here.

Young icewines have vibrant fruit and acidity. But they also age well, evolving into wines with more complex, subtler flavours.

How to serve icewine:
Although traditionally served in smaller glasses, icewine benefits from a regular white wine glass, which showcases all of its wonderful aromas.

Temperature: 10 to 12°C. Don’t overchill; put it in the fridge only an hour or two before serving.

Shelf Life: Because the sugar content is high, icewine will last for three to five days after opening if stored in the refrigerator.

Best Enjoyed: On its own after a meal (think of it as dessert in a glass). The rule is to serve this rich, sweet wine with a dessert that is a bit lighter and less sweet, or with something savoury and full-flavoured for balance. Serving it with a too-rich or too-sweet dessert doesn't allow you to enjoy its merits. Try it with a simple dessert of fresh fruit with cheese, or as an aperitif with foie gras or rich pâtés. Red icewines with plum aromas pair well with chocolate. Icewine also makes amazing, if somewhat pricey, wine cocktails, which is a great way to use up any leftovers from the night before.

This story was originally titled "The Wine Taster: Icewine" in the February 2009 issue.

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