The Story of Ice Wine in Canada

January 13, 2009

Ice wine (in German, Eiswein) is a dessert wine produced from grapes that have been left on the vine well into the cold months of winter. This allows the grapes to go through a process of freezing and thawing, it is during this process that the grapes undergo dehydration. This dehydration concentrates the sugars and acids, and intensifies the flavours of the product. In the freezing temperatures the water freezes but the sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze and since the grapes are pressed while still frozen there is a smaller amount of more concentrated juice released which results in a sweet wine.

The year was 1972 in Canada when ice wine was first produced, It happened in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and was created by Walter Hainle. Then, in 1984 in Ontario, Inniskillin a winery located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, produced Icewine made from Vidal grapes.

Since then, Canadian ice wine has quickly become popular with the everyday consumer as well as the connoisseurs and it is this demand that created an industry. The Canadian cold harsh winters may make it difficult for growing traditional wine grapes but they are perfect for Icewine production. Canadian ice wine was recognized on the world stage in 1991, when Inniskillin’s 1989 Vidal ice wine won the Grand Prize at Vinexpo and in early 2000 Canada established itself as the largest producer of ice wine in the world.

Genuine Icewine must follow VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) which through regulation holds Icewine producers to specific standards. This prohibits the artificial freezing of the grapes, in the past some producers were picking the fruit and then freezing them versus going through the arduous task of waiting for the freeze and picking grapes in the cold weather.

The ideal temperature for harvesting the grapes is between -10 to -13 degrees Celsius. Often time the harvesting happens during the night and the grapes are picked by hands (cold hard work 🙂 ). After picking, the grapes are pressed and the juice fermented. As the frozen grapes do not yield a lot of juice Ice wines are usually more expensive than regular wines.

The wine however is intensely sweet and flavourful with tastes of tropical fruits.

Generally the grapes used for Icewine production are:
Cabernet Franc.

How is Icewine best served?

Icewine is a drink best served chilled (between 10 – 12 degrees Celsius) . Although often recommended to serve Icewine in liqueur glasses it is better to actually go with larger glass so you can enjoy the bouquet and the enhanced flavours.


Christmas Wine Lovers Gift List

December 16, 2008 releases it’s Christmas Wine Lovers Gift List
OkVine, a free Canadian Web community for reviewing, sharing and discovering wine and wineries releases it’s Christmas Wine Lovers Gift List.

PRLog (Press Release) – Dec 16, 2008 – Our editors have reviewed numerous wine accessories and have summarized them in Small, Medium, large and X-Large categories in this list. We designed this list to help consumers find the perfect gift for the wine enthusiast in their life. The list is available here at Christmas Wine Lovers Gift List provides its visitors with Canadian winery information and allows them to search for the wineries they love, review wines and share wine information (discover, share, review). We have one of the most comprehensive listings of Canadian wineries in one place and are steadily building a vibrant community of wine lovers.

Canadian wineries can gain greater exposure, and showcase their award winning wines at Okvine. Users can review these wines and share the reviews with the community, exposing products to a targeted audience.

12 Canadian Wines of Christmas

December 5, 2008

In my news reading yesterday I ran across this very interesting article 12 Canadian Wines of Christmas published by This was a well put together listing of 12 Canadian wines that can be used for entertaining this Holiday season. It is a mix of Sparkling, Dessert, Red and white wines. Well worth the read as they not only list the wines but offer food pairings as well . Spoke ot the folks at Okvine and asked if I could summarize the list here and they were cool with it .. The detailed notes pairings etc are available at their site ..

Here are the 12 Wines:

  • Peller Estates Signature Series Ice Cuvée VQA
  • Summerhill Estate Winery Cipes Blanc de Noir
  • Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Methode Classique
  • 2005 MERITAGE, from Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
  • White Meritage, 2004, from Sumac Ridge Winery
  • Mystic River Vineyards Gewürztraminer, 2007, from Wild Goose Vineyards
  • Oculus, 2004, a red Bordeaux blend from the Mission Hill Family Estate
  • Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2004, from Le Clos Jordanne
  • Riesling, 2006, Tantalus Vineyards near Kelowna
  • Riesling Icewine, 2004, from Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery
  • Rosewood Estates Winery 2006 Merlot
  • Jackson Triggs 2005 Delaine Vineyard Syrah

Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine & Brandy

November 14, 2008

Kittling Ridge Estates Ice Wine and Brandy

Celebrated the birthday of a friend the other night and capped the evening off with Kittling Ridge Estates Ice Wine and Brandy. I had never tried this before but I really enjoyed this wine and went home and did some research.

Apparently, sometime in the 90’s in the Niagara Escarpment Ontario. John Hall of Kittling Ridge created a blend of Vidal Icewine & seven year old barrel aged brandy.. This marriage resulted in a product that is not nearly as sweet as regular Icewine it is smooth on the palate with intense flavours, nice sweetness and a smooth finish. It is an excellent dessert wine that can be found no where else in the world but here in Canada. For those who feel the sweetness of regular Icewines is a little overpowering the Brandy really mellows the sweetness. I highly recommend you give this Ice Wine blend a try ..

Wine Research Tool

November 12, 2008

Found this interesting tool called Able Grape Search Engine

Stumbled upon this great tool a couple weeks ago and have been playing with it ever since . It is a Search engine created with the sole intent of wine research. If you are at all interested in learning more about wine , grape varieties and any other technical aspects of wine making you should add this tool to your “tool bag”. Unlike Google the results are all directly related to wine so you don’t have to filter through a bunch on unrelated results to get to the information you are looking for. A search for Riesling returns results like this:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked.2.1 Petroleum notes in aged Riesling wines. 3 Noble rot. 4 Production regions.


Riesling. Because of both its cellar longevity and its ability tovarietal identity while reflecting the individuality of its terroir, Riesling may be the best of all the white wine grapes.

Wines of Germany • Home Cellar • Grape Varieties: Riesling

To reach its full potential, Riesling needs extra days of sun; ripening is very late, usually not until the latterRiesling produces elegant wines of rich character with an incomparable fragrance

Wines of Germany • Press and Trade • Events

Grape Varieties How to Read a Wine Label Ripeness Dryness  Classic and Selection Rieslings Food and Wine Pairings Wine and ..

Take this tool out for a spin, I found it to be very helpful especially when trying to learn more about Canadian grape varieties.

Why I hate the label “Cellared in Canada” ..

November 7, 2008

Why I hate the label “Cellared in Canada” ..

I was at the LCBO the other day and perusing the Canadian Wine Section and got thoroughly perplexed almost all of the isles were labeled “cellared in Canada” which after some research seems it really means that that these wines can contain under certain circumstances a ratio as high as 99 per cent imported wine. Now to be clear the concept of blended wines is not new nor am I against it. Some of the wines are quite good, but the way it is positioned marketed labeled and the confusion it causes in the marketplace is what I am truly against .

What I find ridiculous is these wines sit right beside VQA wines or simply wines made purely with Ontario grapes with no distinction.
Why this being done ? .. well it allows some of the big vintners to produce and sell more varied and sometimes cheaper wines..
why the population isn’t screaming? .. well unless you dig you would not realize what was going on ..

In my opinion what this does is muddy the definition of Canadian wine and really takes us backwards. Further more the blending of the two (no pun intended) on the shelves leave the consumer really not knowing the difference between the two and unable to appreciate the quality Canadian wines that are available.

We really need to support the Canadian wine industry and it should not be hard now since the quality of Canadian wines is excellent..

Election night Sparkle review

November 5, 2008

This is a follow up to yesterdays blog entry .. 

Jackson-Triggs 2003 Grand Reserve Méthode Classique

which was the Sparkling wine we chose to celebrate the end to the US elections ..

This Canadian wine from the Niagara Peninsula was an amazing semi-sweet Sparkling wine does not over power with the bubbles but has just enough to make it sparkle.. And just enough sweetness to make it addictive and easy to drink, the acid levels are perfect and the flavour is a subtle mix of apple and honey .. Excellent choice if I do say so myself, I would highly recommend it for any occasion..

The US Elections end today .. what to do ??

November 4, 2008

Celebrate or ??

Well ..

It is time to vote (if you are in the US) for either Barack Obama or John McCain and unfortunately a large percentage of those who have been glued to all the coverage can’t vote 🙂 all we can do is sit back and wait for the results ..

Well since this is a wine blog perhaps it is time to choose our beverage to either celebrate or drown our sorrows ..

Todays topic is

Sparkling wine, I would suggest that this should be the beverage of choice for both Canadians and our American friends. I am talking specifically about Canadian Sparkling wine .. now I know some of our American friends specifically republican leaning friends may not want to hear about Canadians especially since those two Quebec comedians pranked Sarah Palin but.. I will contend that that was all in good fun and SNL started it all anyways. So go ahead and support Canadian Sparkling wine producers and join us in raising a glass tonight (now as always don’t over-indulge drink responsibly plus tomorrow is a work day). Now on to the choices

Choices for Canadian Sparking Wine (so many choices)

I would recommend:

Also below are some Canadian wineries that produce excellent sparkling wines

British Columbia


Now if you are unable to find any of the above or you want to celebrate (or the alternative) on a budget you could always go for Andrés Baby Duck a sparkling wine produced by Andrés Wines in British Columbia, Canada. It is the ultimate in cheap, sweet Canadian sparkling wine 🙂

So now you have no excuses. Go out and support the Canadian Sparkling wine industry

it as they say your patriotic duty 🙂 ..

Canadian Ice wine

November 2, 2008

Its hard to make improvement on excellent products .. the best Ice wine is Canadian ice wine. I’ve tried numerous Ice wines but four Canadian wineries’ ice wines (Inniskillin, Peller, Pillitteri, and Hillebrand) stand out. I’m sure there may be some very fine ice wines out there that may outshine the Canadian ones I’ve tried, but haven’t found them yet.


October 31, 2008

In Ontario the LCBO is our storefront for purchasing wine (yes there are other niche stores ala Magnotta) but LCBO is king however they have been slow to adopt modern technology which makes it harder for folks like us who love wine and would like to share that knowledge. I agree with the folks over at the Toronto Wine Scene blog I too would also find it useful to link reviews to the LCBO so my readers could just jump over .. maybe if we all complain we could make a difference 🙂 for Ontario wine drinkers.