You can’t consider yourself a wine expert if you haven’t tried ice wine. Made from frozen grapes, ice wine is one of Niagara Falls’ most popular drinks.
What is Ice Wine?
The early 1800s produced a happy accident that is now called Ice Wine. Vintners in Germany were worried about a cold storm that was predicted to be one of the worst of the decade. They left grapes on the vine at the vineyards for the animals to harvest during the harsh temperatures.
Little did they know, they were creating a signature drink for northern regions.
The vintners took note of these grapes and tried a few of their frozen creations. They quickly noticed that the taste was much sweeter than usual. Curious minds ran the frozen grapes through their winemaking process, thus creating ice wine.
The earliest version of this wine was dubbed Eiswein. The high, sweet flavor was an instant hit in the region and became a signature, celebratory winter drink.
It moved from Germany throughout the white north and landed in Niagara Falls. Today, you will find vineyards dedicated to the art of making ice wine throughout the region.
How is Ice Wine Made?
Making ice wine is a bit different than making traditional wines. It can be one of the hardest, most painstaking wines to produce, but when it’s done right, it holds a lovely sweet flavor that many enjoy.
To start, thousands of icy marbles are harvested from the vineyard. Beginning in the fall, vintners will start to prepare and protect the vineyard from prey and harsh weather so the grapes can reach their fullest potential.
They’re plucked and sent through a grape crusher once they reach -8°C or 17.6°. This temperature allows for the flavor to reach the perfect sweetness and it allows for the most juice to be extracted. In fact, only 10-20% on the liquid in frozen grapes can be used to make ice wine.
Because of the intense sweetness, it takes about three to six months to ferment. The high sugar content can make for a hostile environment for fermentation. The sugar reacts with the yeast in a way that stops the typical fermentation process early, creating wine that possess a sweet flavor and a lower alcohol content.
After the three to six-month window, the wine is bottled in its signature skinny bottle and contains about a 10% ABV.
What Does it Taste Like?
There is no question that Ice Wine is a treasure in the wine world. The intense sweet flavor is not for everyone, but those who indulge in Ice Wine love it.
Ice Wine can be made from a wide variety of grapes. Some of the most common are Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc and Vidal Blanc. These flavors, infused with sweetness, produce a wide variety of different characters—some rich, some light.
Most ice wines have rich aromas that resemble the flavors of tropical fruits like papaya, pineapple, and lychee. The sweetness balances the firm backbone of the acidity and creates a pleasant flavor that is enjoyed by many.
Ice wine is commonly enjoyed as a dessert or specialty wine. Sip on a signature glass of ice wine with a rich dessert like ice cream or cheesecake for a balanced taste. Or, try pairing an ice wine as a great complement to charcuterie boards that are filled with savory meats and cheeses. The key to a perfectly balanced pairing is to lean toward rich foods.
For a truly local ice wine tasting experience, try adding a splash to sparkling wine or cocktails. It packs a sweet punch with benefits.
How You Can Try Ice Wine
In Niagara Falls, ice wine is extremely popular. Throughout the year, there are so many Niagara wine tours, but in the winter, the most visited are the ice wine vineyards. There are many vineyards that are solely dedicated to ice wine. Some of the most renowned ice wines are based just a short distance away from our hotel. The Inniskillin ice wine winery is only ten minutes away. There are others that surround the hotel, such as the Vidal ice wines, Konzelmann, Ice House, and much more.
You can see take in the experience of harvesting from the ice-covered vineyards and taste the magnificent creations as you do so. This is an experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Niagara Falls is a true home for the best ice wines in the world.
This winter, if you’re dying to try this classic winter beverage, visit Niagara Falls and attend the Ice Wine Festival. Every year, this festival brings out wine aficionados from all over the world to partake in tastings of this potent wine beverage. This wine tasting Niagara specialty is one of the most anticipated events of the year.