WINE O’CLOCK: Some like it cold – and sweet
WINE is produced in a great many countries but I never thought of Canada as one of them. But there it was, on a supermarket shelf, wine from the Canadian outback.
The product in question turned out to be ice wine. It was a new thing to me, but apparently it has been around for centuries, being lauded in Roman times by someone called Pliny the Elder.
If you get this wrong in a pub quiz, don’t blame me, blame Wikipedia. It says this Pliny guy found that grapes harvested late in the year, when stiff with frost, produced a very distinctive wine.
The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape juice to develop. The result is a dessert wine, with the sweetness you would expect but with the sharp, clean texture of a dry white.
It has flavours of peach and apricot and is said to be good served with Asian dishes such as creamy curries or spicy pad Thai.
It is not an easy wine to produce, requiring a climate warm enough to grow grapes, in the first place, and a winter that brings sharp frosts and arrives at pretty much the same time every year.
For these reasons Canada and Germany are the world’s main producers of ice wine. Since I had never heard of it until a few days ago, I won’t pretend to be an expert – and that’s probably the only time you’ll ever read those words in a wine column.
I bought a bottle when I saw it in the supermarket. (Aldi, Icewine Vidal). I didn’t try it with curry or anything else but enjoyed a glass all by itself. A very nice and unusual aperitif.