Dear The Wine Ladies,

My husband and I will be off later this month to South Carolina for a mini celebration of a friend’s graduation. As a lover of sweet wines, icewine seemed like a good choice. But then I learned there are also sparkling icewines. What are they like? Would this be an appropriate wine to bring? Are they served chilled, like a regular white wine? Are they served in white wine glasses? I’d like to tell them a little about what icewine is and how it’s made. If it’s not too complicated, can you share a few thoughts on that as well?

– Diana

Dear Diana,

A sparkling icewine would be perfect for the occasion. Not only does it satisfy with respect to being a sweet wine, but also the added fanfare surrounding their opening, with the celebratory note of the bubbles will surely be a hit!

We started producing icewines here in Ontario in 1984 and became recognized as a leading icewine producer on the global stage in 1991 when Inniskillin won the coveted Grand Prix d’Honneur at Bordeaix’s Vinexpo wine fair. Icewine is made from grapes that have been left to freeze naturally on the vine. The season begins with netting the grape vines in the fall to protect the grapes from the birds. In order to produce icewine there are strict regulations that the wineries must adhere to. The grapes for example must not be picked until a minimum temperature of -8°C or lower is reached for a sustainable time period. The harvest usually takes place sometime between December and February, typically a stressful time for the winemaker awaiting the perfect condition to get into the vineyards and start picking. Between the time of the end of the growing season and the harvest, the magic takes shape. The grapes dehydrate, concentrating the juices and creating the complex characteristics that lend them the ability to produce the luscious, sweet yet beautiful balanced nectar of the Gods, icewine.

Sparkling Vidal ice wines, the most common grape used for making icewines will offer up a delightful blend of tropical fruit flavours, oftentimes of apricot and peach, and with a touch of citrus. Although a superb dessert wine, sparkling icewines also marry well with a variety of appetizers. The delectable flavour is enhanced with a wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity, perfectly delivered to the palate with the effervescence of the lively bubbles. Serve in fluted glasses and well chilled as you would a sparkling wine or a champagne.