Top 10 Tips for Icewine Lovers

Not many people know this, but the benefits from drinking Icewine include glossy hair, increased endorphins, a good sense of humour, endurance, being 24% bullet proof, rhythm, the power of persuasion and an uncanny knack for foreign languages.

Or, at least, these feel like concrete facts whenever I’m drinking it.

Note the one word and capital letter of Icewine.  This signifies it is a Canadian product and made to the very strict standards of the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance). Labelled in other countries, such as Austria or the USA, as Ice Wine; or in the original German home, as Eiswein; the Canadian wine delicacy is made from frozen grapes harvested in temperatures between -8 and -14 to create an intense, mouth-quenching dessert wine.

What’s the method to this madness?

Water freezes before sugar and acid, so when frozen grapes are pressed the concentrated sugar and acid drips out before the water.  It’s like wringing out the gold from a trophy and fermenting it. The Vidal grape is the most common variatal used in Icewine, chosen for its thick skin and ability to sustain its shape over long periods of time.  It takes 3 consecutive nights at -8 or more for the grapes to be thoroughly frozen. Harvesting happens in the dead of night, so cold that people lose their fingers (not really, but Icewine deserves this kind of reputation).  The grapes are often pressed outside to let Mother Nature guard the arctic temp so the water doesn’t start sneaking into your honey nectar. The juice you receive is roughly 15% of what you would take from a press of regular grapes, which, asides from the painful labour, can explain the golden price tag.

Harvesting by night to keep the grapes frozen

Harvesting by night to keep the grapes frozen

Savour the flavour

Expect a firework of flavours: mango, butterscotch, lemon zest, honey, figs and green apple.  Many people assume the sweetness will take your mouth hostage in some sugar heist. But that cold climate electric acidity produces the perfect balance of sweet and sour. It’s tangtastic. Drool inducing, lip smacking, curling your tongue into origami.

Ask not what your Icewine can do for you, but what you can do for your Icewine

  1. Serve after dinner, well chilled. You only need fairy sips from a third of a normal glass of wine to experience true tongue-dancing happiness.
  2. There’s no cooler way to show up to a party then as the one who brought Icewine and blue cheese. A tangy cheese will complement the Icewine sweetness like yin to yang.

    Blue cheese is a great friend to Icewine

    Blue cheese is a great friend to Icewine

  3. Keep it in the door of
    your fridge and take a congratulatory swig every time you reach in to get your milk. The high sugar acts as a preservative which means Icewine will last as long as a jar mayonnaise.
  4. Add it to a bone-dry sparkling wine to create a honeyed richness.
  5. Roast halved apples or pears in Icewine at a high temperature for 45 minutes. Serve when fruit is caramelised, top with crème fraiche and drizzle with the pan juices.
  6. Simmer some mushrooms in Icewine for half an hour then add a shot of espresso for a seriously delicious pasta sauce. (Thank you Katie & Mateo!) See more recipes
  7. Cocktails!
The Cold Old Fashioned

1oz Canadian whisky

1oz Red Icewine

Splash of soda

Add cherries and orange slice

Lychee Chill

2oz Icewine

1oz lychee juice or nectar

Garnish with raspberries


Icewine Martini

1oz Icewine

1 ½ oz vodka

Splash of soda

1 frozen grape


  1. Drink it WITH your dessert.

Ever tried to serve a whopping, chunky red wine with your dessert? Next to the sweet flavours in your pudding, a beautiful Barolo turns into vinegar. Then some caffeine-fiddler guest asks for a coffee, then everyone wants a coffee, then it’s getting late, thanks for everything… party over. The tangy sugar content of Icewine will stand up to your dessert and complement the flavours like lime to a gin and tonic. Then your party is just beginning.

  1. Drink it on birthday mornings with strawberries. Flip, make it your family Crimbo tradition.
  2. Prices of Icewine have rocketed in the last ten years, due to the fame and success of the Okanagan and Niagara. Nova Scotia, being the new-kid-on-the-block, is producing award-winning Icewine at a portion of the price. Snap it up! Show it off! Drink it up!

Nova Scotia Icewine Festival 2015

Jan 31st/Feb 1st and Feb 7th/Feb 8th

@ Grande Pre Winery. Get your tickets here 

Whallops of events to get involved in, including Icewine dinners at Luckett Vineyards .


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