Thursday, 27 November 2014, 9:06 am

Ice wine is nice wine

Chantelle Henszke rests at an ice sculpture at The Niagara Icewine Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. PHOTOS BY KYLE MELANSONBy KYLE MELANSON
Staff Writer
Icewine, ice sculptures and icy temperatures.
The second week of the 19th annual Niagara Icewine Festival lived up to its name as fans of both wine and food braved the cold in Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend. A section of Queen Street was blocked so the Icewine Village could be erected allowing spectators to enjoy their favourite drinks and dishes. Twenty-six local wineries brought their icewines, including the college’s own 2010 Dean’s List Cabernet Franc.
Local restaurants such as the Cannery Restaurant, The Epicurean, Oban Inn and Zees were on hand, dolling out samples of their most popular dishes. Some of these included a lamb stew, seafood chowder, barbequed ribs, homemade sausages and a grilled cheese with duck confit and pickled apples, which sold out in less than three hours.
The food paired nicely with many of the wines, but as Christine Montana, of Niagara-on-the-Lake and retail manager of Southbrook Wineries, says it can vary on the individual’s pallet.
“There are so many diverse ways you can serve it.”
Montana says that icewine itself can be served in more than just wine.
“It’s gaining popularity as a martini. The shelf life is 10 years, which indicates a little bit of variety it can be used for.”
The village was dotted with pedestals made of ice, for weary travellers to take a break from walking and enjoy the in-hand food and drink. Those who were not dressed for the occasion were able to warm up their frozen limbs next to the many propane-powered heaters scattered throughout Queen Street.
Yet the main attraction had nothing to do with food or wine. At mid-village stood a long table, made entirely of ice, where people could set their wine down and take pictures. The table had various bottles of wine frozen into it as well as the official Niagara Icewine Festival logo frozen in the centre.
What many may be unaware of as they sipped one of the many offerings is just how much work goes into the making of just one bottle of icewine.
The process of making this sweet dessert wine is much more than simply picking “a grape.”
Graeme McMillan, of Beamsville, and tourism and communications at Southbrook, says it’s a complicated procedure.
“A lot of people think it’s cold grapes that you add sugar to, that’s not really the case. You have to meet certain conditions, a big one is it must be minus eight to minus 12 degrees Celsius before you can even think about picking.”
McMillan says you need to use your fingers to pick the grapes, and you will only get one drop from each grape.
“You literally get the size of a little tree sap.”
Even though the yield of icewine can be small, Montana says her experience in the wine industry is showing that icewine is growing in popularity.
“You can see the numbers coming out to the events are growing. However, the weather can affect it [the event] and the numbers.”
The Niagara Icewine Festival will wrap up next weekend for another year. For information on upcoming events visit www.niagarawinefestival.ca.

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