January 4, 2012

Icewine Pairings

Icewine is a special thing, a largely Canadian thing, whereby wine is produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine (which is why very few areas in the world can produce it). This often leads to some pretty fantastic stuff; a super sweet, almost syrupy wine, often saved for the dessert course.

But at a recent media tasting of icewines I attended at Sopra Upper Lounge in Toronto, Wine Country Ontario was out to change our thinking.

After a tasting of 18 different icewines (tough job!) made from grape varieties including Riesling, Vidal, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, we came to the realization that icewine can in fact be paired with not just sweet, but also savoury and spicy dishes to great effect.

Our starter trio included icewine chicken liver pâté, endive salad with Quebec blue Elizabeth cheese, and a frisée salad with candied salmon. The second trio featured spicy elements like duck confit with mostarda, pork cheeks with chili apple braised radish, and a plump seared scallop with a chili butter honey glaze, chestnuts and carrot purée. Our national treasure proved to be full of fruity, luscious flavours and rich aromas; a perfect foil for the savoury spicing. The dessert trio included German apple cake with salted icewine caramel, French toast style panettone with roasted pineapple and crème fraîche, and icewine poached pear with mascarpone — not a sour note in the bunch.

With icewines coming from Stratus to Strewn, Sue-Anne Staff Estate Winery, Inniskillin, Peller Estates, Cave Spring, Tawse, Hillebrand, and Pilliitteri to name a few, it was a sweet and savoury lunch that was as intriguing as it was tasty. Bottom line? Icewine: Not just for dessert.

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Photo credits:
1-4. Amy Rosen