Winter's Best Ice Wine Pairing
One of the key reasons many people visit some of the most unique parts of our country is not only to enjoy the wonderful outdoors but also to consume some of the best ice wine. Difficult to make, absolutely juicy, and delicious, this delicate wine is perhaps the most prized alcoholic beverage in the wine industry. And, as always, knowing the secrets behind ice wine pairing can better enhance your enjoyment of ice wine with food.
Even though the grapes to make ice wine are harvested at night during midwinter, it is available to buy year-round. Ice wine, also known as a dessert wine, is most well-known for its juicy flavor and sweetness; very rarely is the ABV (alcohol by volume) above 12 percent. Ice wine is often compared to Sauvignon Blanc but is slightly sweeter and more acidic.
WHAT TYPES OF FOOD PAIRINGS GO WELL WITH ICE WINES?
It is important to know a few things about ice wines before pairing them with food. The perfect pairing of ice wine leads to a more satisfying experience for your palate.
First, the majority of ice wines are sweet, juicy, somewhat fruity, and slightly acidic. Thus, ice wine pairing must complement the wine features, like sweetness and acidity.
Second, in general, because ice wine is sweet, the perfect pairing of ice wine will be with foods that are less sweet, or the taste will be bland. Similarly, because ice wine is slightly acidic, pair it with fatty or meaty foods. The acidity will cut through the fat and make the meal more delicious.
Third, because ice wines are sweet, they are best consumed in small amounts to avoid numbing the sensations. In fact, ice wines can be enjoyed on their own, and that is why they are known as dessert wines.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FOOD PAIRINGS WITH ICE WINE?
Cheese with crackers makes an excellent ice wine pairing, but the cheese has to have a strong flavor, like Blue Cheese or aged cheese (like Sharp Cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano). Cheese with mild flavors will taste bland in the presence of the ice wines' acidity and sweetness.
Spicy foods make a perfect pairing with ice wine because of the sweetness of the wine. Spicy foods can include some Mexican, Indian, or Thai foods; the more pungent the food, the better the pairing.
Almost any type of salty food makes a great ice wine pairing. From capers, olives, pizza, sausages, crackers, tacos, burritos, etc., the perfect pairing of ice wine will enhance the experience of both the wine and the food.
Foods that are high in fat (e.g., sausages, meatballs, lamb, pork, etc.) pair well with ice wines because of the wine’s acidity. The acuity permits the fatty foods to complement the wine.
It may sound counterproductive to consume a dessert with a sweet wine. But ice wines make an excellent pairing with all types of desserts. The key is to make sure that the dessert is slightly less sweet than the wine so you can still have the sweetness differential.
WHICH TYPE OF ICE WINE SHOULD YOU SELECT?
The majority of ice wines are made from Vidal and Riesling. However, other varieties include Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Gamay, and Chardonnay.
HOW SHOULD ICE WINE BE SERVED?
In general, ice wine should be served chilled. Let it cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. Have an ice bucket ready to keep the open bottle chilled for a few more hours.
If you are looking for a great ice wine, try our 2016 HAHN HILL VINEYARD ICE WINE RIESLING.