I have mentioned before that I really, really, really, don’t like winter. When the snow starts to fall, and the cold temperatures arrive, all I want is the first flight to the Virgin Islands. Sunshine, good books, and a bucket of margaritas to tide me over until April. What a heavenly, heavenly thought.
But that isn’t a possibility this year. So how to try and enjoy my least favourite season? Ice fishing? Dog-sledding? Hiking across the frozen tundra? (I exaggerate, folks….this is Canada, but there is no tundra in Niagara). All these helpful suggestions wouldn’t work. I am not an outdoorsy-winter sort.
How about Icewine tasting? Now we’re talking.
The Niagara Icewine Festival kicked off last weekend. Three weekends worth of activities, tastings, dinners and events all around the Niagara region. So much to choose from. For me – one who is new to the pleasures of Icewine – the perfect starting point was to buy a Discovery Pass. With this pass, I can venture from winery to winery over the three weekends, tasting various food and Icewine pairings. They also have a Designated Driver option for the Discovery Pass, which is a fantastic idea. Ken graciously volunteered for this option, so I could taste away – moderately of course.
Now first, a confession. I have never been a huge Icewine drinker or lover. It is typically served with dessert, which I rarely partake in. A dessert for me is usually single-malt scotch – the smokier the better. Really sweet things are not my most favourite, and Icewine is quite sweet.
But Icewine is a truly Canadian specialty, and Ontario is recognized as producing some of the best in the world. We are so proud of our Icewines, and rightly so, that it seems a shame for me not to learn more about it and it’s many uses. I discovered it really is not just for dessert.
And it’s delicious.
First stop was Konzelmann Estate Winery.
Konzelmann has always had a special place in my heart. It was one of the very first Niagara wineries I ever visited, back in the ’90’s with my family. Their vineyard views are spectacular in every season.
They also have a variety of wines to appeal to all price points. One of my favourites this year was their Heritage Reserve, and several others that are staples in my cellar. So I knew they were a great place to start my Icewine adventure with. The featured tasting was their 2008 Riesling Icewine paired with Butter Chicken. Well, they had me at Butter Chicken. One of my most favourite foods ever paired with Icewine? This I had to try.
When we arrived, we were greeted by extremely friendly and welcoming staff, who directed us into the tasting room for Discovery Pass holders.
First we picked up our drinks,
Chatted with the Butter Chicken Master
And got ready to taste
The result? Scrumptious. I have missed Butter Chicken in my life. The spiciness of the dish went perfectly with the sweetness of the Icewine.
As we were finishing up, more guests arrived.
It was a lively group, and everyone I spoke to loved the pairing. The room we were tasting in had a special charm and feel, reminiscent of some places I have visited in Germany. The Konzelmann family actually has been producing wine since 1893, in the German town of Uhlbach. I am so glad they moved to Canada, working their winemaking magic here.
Before we left, I had to stop in the Wine Boutique. You know, just in case I needed something for my cellar.
Then it was time to head out into the chilly but brilliantly sunny day, and continue to our next stop. Winter just might be bearable with weekends like this! I’m so glad there are still two more ahead. The big event in Niagara-on-the-Lake is this weekend, January 16th to 18th, and it will be an absolute blast.
Will I see you at any of these events?