Sweet and cool

Imagine you just finished an exquisite meal at your favorite restaurant and it’s time for dessert. The hostess appears and sets a slim, tall bottle of wine before you. What?

The bottle is half the size of a regular wine bottle and it looks so cool. And that’s exactly what it is, cool, but there’s more…

Reading the label you notice it’s called an ice wine — hmmm, interesting. The raspberry cheesecake is now set before you, the cool bottle is opened and a bit is poured into your glass. You close your eyes, smell it and sip. It’s sweet and cool!

As you eat your succulent cheesecake and sip your ice wine, the pairing of the two — sweet and fatty — is excellent. The dining experience is complete — it was sweet and cool!

Later in the evening you reflect on the ice wine — why is it called ice wine? Where does it come from? Who makes it? How is it made?

Well, let’s pretend…

Let’s pretend you are now a budding grape growing on a vine planted in the rolling hills of Canada. It’s springtime and you are just beginning to feel warm and you’re growing in size. Being one grape in a bunch of grapes gets to be a bit crowded but you learn to adjust to such closeness and, as one, you all begin to get bigger and more full of sugar.

Summer has passed and, as you look out on your neighboring vineyards, you see all the other grapes are being harvested. Naturally you expect it will soon be your turn to get picked off your vine and then taken to the harvesting shed. You wait … and wait … and wait.

It’s getting cold! Please someone pick us! It’s really getting cold — last night the temp was around 20 degrees and tonight you feel the same coldness. You are literally frozen stiff and have turned into a little frozen ball. But, wait! There are people in the vineyard and they’re picking your fellow grapes and soon you’re broken off your vine and put into a bucket.

The pressing shed is much warmer than outside but you feel like your whole existence has been wasted. You think you’ve been picked too late and you are now just a very cold and frozen bit of good for nothing.

And then the magic begins. You and your friends are put into a press and the pressure to squeeze you is immense. Surprisingly some grape juice begins to flow from your frozen being and, as you are pressed, you know the resulting juice will be sweet and cool.

All that waiting to be picked and enduring all that cold weather was worth it. Because now, you will become an ice wine — a very special sweet and cool dessert wine. It was worth the wait…

So as you sit in your favorite chair after having eaten at your favorite restaurant and tasted that fabulous glass of ice wine, you know there’s a need to purchase a bottle of ice wine tomorrow So, what are some good choices to buy?

The majority of ice wine is made in Canada and for obvious reasons. Europe doesn’t have the expected cold nights required to freeze the grapes and the United States’ wine makers are getting into the game for obvious reasons — we have the needed cold weather and we like sweet wine.

From Ontario, Canada, Peller Estates makes a very nice ice wine from Cabernet Franc grapes. Aging in French oaks barrels allows for the wine to show complex red fruit flavors but still have very soft tannins.

Jumping across the ocean to Austria we can find Nigl Grüner Veltliner Eiswein — an absolutely fantastic tasting wine exhibiting fresh apricot and raisin notes with acidity enhanced by some peppery notes. Many consider this the Best Buy of the ice wine industry — if you find it, buy it.

Going just a bit north to the Mosel region in Germany, we encounter Dr. Loosen Riesling Eiswein. I like anything from this wine growing region and this wine gives subtle tastes of honey and apple. It’s a wonderful dessert wine and I see those steep riverside vineyards every time I drink a Mosel wine.

New York state’s Hunt County Vineyards award winning Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is perfect for your dessert experience. With flavors of honey, apricot and other subtle fruit notes, it’s a beautiful example of a cool and sweet wine drinking moment.

Well, back to your post dinner pondering — you’ve made the decision to purchase a bottle of ice wine. Be aware those 375 ml sized bottles (half the normal size of a wine bottle) will cost you in the neighborhood of $50. Maybe you can salve your conscience by knowing some ice wines are priced closer to $100 per bottle.

Those prices makes the sweet and cool drinking of an ice wine even more special. Go ahead — we only live once!

Next week, everybody is getting into the game.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!