What’s the big deal about ice wine? Some say there is nothing else quite like this guilty pleasure, which sell for about double the price of most non-vintage Champagnes. Ice wine is almost a nectar that is rich with the flavors of apple, peach and apricot. Its hints of honey, nuts and, maybe, a dash of caramel provide a refreshing counterpoint to a blue cheese or fruit-based dessert.
Ontario is Canada’s ice wine capital, accounting for up to 95% of the country’s production, according to Wine Country Ontario, which represents the province’s winemakers.
By provincial law winemakers cannot put the “ice wine” label on their product unless the grapes have been picked in temperatures no warmer than minus 8 degrees C (18 degrees Fahrenheit). And the grapes must have sugar level of at least 35 Brix, which is a way of measuring the amount of sugar in a solution. That’s close to the sweetness of maple or corn syrup.
Most years harvesting must take place in the dead of night in order to achieve those conditions and the winemaker can usually only give the volunteers a few hours notice at most. Conditions were nearly perfect to harvest fruit for this year’s ice wine
Canada has become one of the world’s major ice wine producers competing with Germany and Austria, where it is called Eiswein. New York State’s Finger Lakes region and Switzerland are also among the colder climes that make ice wine.
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