Some people may remember the old Riunite lambrusco ad: “Riunite on Ice, How Nice.” Say what you will, but many wine lovers got hooked on wine through these easy-to-drink, gate-way wines. There were many others; without trying to date myself, similar wines were Mateus and Lancers.
Putting ice in your Riunite is not sacrilegious but the ad probably intended that you chill the wine before serving. But some people do indeed enjoy drinking their wine with ice cubes literally in the glass. Again, sacrilegious to many wine lovers, but I will never forget reading that the owner of a prestigious Champagne company enjoyed his own Champagne with “slivers of ice in the glass.”
But the topic of Ice Wine is quite different. It refers to the process of making wine, rather than drinking it. Ice wine can be found in wine regions where ice is common. So you’ll never see an ice wine from Spain but you will from Germany, and Canada, where winemakers have created quite a reputation for this delectable dessert wine.
In Germany and Canada, grapes are left on the vines after the regular harvest and when the first frost arrives, the grapes are literally frozen, then harvested. The water in the grape, now in its frozen state, is discarded but the concentrated sugar liquid portion doesn’t freeze.
And this is what is allowed to ferment and the result is an unctuous superbly delicious beverage. And not inexpensive, as you can imagine. The grapes have to be hand harvested and the amount of juice is greatly reduced because the water portion is discarded.
If you live in the Northeast, you may want to consider attending the Niagara Wine Festival which takes place the last 3 weekends of January. The focus is on the outstanding Ontario Ice Wine. But unless you really crave the hands-on experience of being where they make Ice Wine, buying a bottle would be the obvious least expensive route.
So take out the credit card and Enjoy!