I am now an Icewine convert.
When I was first introduced to Icewine, many years ago, it was offered mostly as a dessert wine. As I am not a huge dessert lover, and sweetness is not something my palate really loves, I passed up Icewine on many occasions. But this year, in the spirit of a new Niagara local and wine-lover, I decided to give the world of Icewine another whirl. In choosing my Discovery Pass destinations for the festival, I was specifically looking for non-dessert pairings.
And I learned that I DO like Icewine, and I like it in these ways:
1. Icewine is brilliant when paired with spice. All hail Konzelmann and their Butter Chicken pairing!
2. Icewine is brilliant when made into Icewine Cocktails.
Two of the wineries I was able to visit were pouring Icewine cocktails. And honestly, they blew me away.
I started at Chateau des Charmes.
As an aside, I just have to say how beautiful the wineries of Niagara are. Really. Why else would a non-winter-lover like me be parading out through snowy vineyards in -20 degree weather to take pictures?
But I digress. Back to the Icewine cocktail.
Ken and I ventured in to the tasting area, once again greeted by welcoming, friendly staff.
While my designated driver was treated to some peach lemonade, I eagerly awaited my cocktail. A Cabernet Franc Icewine sparkling cocktail to be precise.
This was matched with a poached trout mousse and Icewine whipped cream cheese tartlet, which was very good.
So good, that Ken told me that he might be turning into a foodie after all. Hallelujah. Before we moved down here, my sweetie would never have even touched “Smoked trout mousse” – he is not an adventurous eater. Finding restaurants that both of us can enjoy can be quite a challenge sometimes. (Funny, we’ve found lots in Niagara….)
After enjoying our tasting, I debated about sampling some other wines. But we decided to come back for another visit later in the week, and press on for more Icewine cocktails. We had a bit of a drive to our next destination, which was in Vineland.
And Megalomaniac did not disappoint. Well, it never disappoints. Plus, they were offering four different Icewine cocktails for the Discovery Pass tasting.
If you haven’t been to Megalomaniac, or tried their wines, you must. I confess, it was the names of their wines that got my attention in the beginning. Big-Mouth Merlot. Narcissist Riesling. SonOfABitch Pinot Noir. Bravado Cabernet Sauvignon. How can you resist? But once the name grabs you, the wines will grab you even more. Ken always worries that I will drain our bank account whenever I go there. Well, maybe I do just a little.
The tasting bar was buzzing with activity, but I was promptly greeted and directed to a place.
I honestly don’t think I can say which cocktail was my favourite here, but we started with the classic Cabernet Franc Icewine in their Bubblehead sparkling wine.
Then we moved on to a blend of mandarin vodka with their Riesling Icewine.
The third cocktail was what I called “The Grown-Up Slushie” – Limoncello and Riesling Icewine with crushed ice.
I will make this. Friends, be forewarned. If you visit me this summer, we will be drinking this. Summer afternoons in a glass.
The final cocktail is one I honestly would never have thought of. Creme de Cacao (yes, you read that right) with their Cabernet Franc Icewine. I am prejudiced towards Creme de Cacao….think high school parties and first drinking experiences. I have not touched Creme de Cacao since.
But my lovely hostess encouraged me to still try it, saying, “It’s like chocolate covered strawberries in liquid form”.
She was right. Creme de Cacao, you’re not so bad after all. My eighteen year old self has moved on.
So now I wonder, what about an Icewine cocktail that combines my two loves – spiciness and Icewine cocktails? I’m thinking some kind of hot pepper or jalapeno infused vodka with Icewine. Perhaps this requires some experimentation. Has anyone got a recipe they would like to share?
I have loved opening my mind and mouth to the wonders of Icewine. This has been the first time I have participated in Icewine Festival Events, and I barely scratched the surface – there was so much going on around the entire region. Check out the Niagara Chilled website for some more ideas of what was happening. And start planning your visit for next year!