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Feb. 17, 2020 | Monday
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Wine Country: With icewine and food, opposites attract
Levi deLoryn, winemaker at Jackson-Triggs says a sweet icewine is best paired with something not so sweet, like bitter chocolate or a potent blue cheese. (Supplied)

Victoria Gilbert

Special to The Lake Report

Three Niagara-on-the-Lake producers were asked about their favourite icewine and food combos and although their icewines were as different as the individuals themselves, the consensus is icewine is a cheese and chocolate darling.

Reif Estate Riesling Grand Reserve Icewine 2015

Klaus Reif, CEO, Reif Estate Winery

“I like the Riesling icewine with food; it is less concentrated and less sweet than Vidal icewine but more elegant,” says Reif who has been producing icewines since the eighties. “Riesling icewine has higher acidity and is a touch drier, which goes well with food.”

Flavour profile: “You get both dry apricot and the fresh apricot. The reason is because of the botrytis effect,” explains Reif. “The skin on a Riesling is so much more fragile in comparison to the Vidal, so the skin breaks down, it gets botrytis and you get this extra dry apricot flavour. It is lighter and yet more complex in flavour.” Botrytis is a grey fungus which occurs during September and October and which alters the taste of the wine, often in a positive way, which is why the French dubbed it “noble rot.”

Best pair: “I would pair a blue cheese, a Roquefort. It’s funny because I don’t like blue cheese; I will take it out of a salad and put it to the side; I only eat blue cheese with icewine. The sweetness of the icewine and the saltiness of the blue cheese, it is the perfect match.”

Jackson-Triggs 2016 Gewürztraminer Icewine

Levi deLoryn, winemaker, Jackson-Triggs

“It’s bloody cold, I’m not used to it at all, but it was fun and an incredible learning process,” says the Australia-born deLoryn of his first icewine harvest.

“We have a number of different icewines, but I think this Gewürztraminer is unique. We make it every other year. We pick years when it is going to be a particularly vibrant year.”

Flavour profile: “What I love about this wine, is what you get on the nose is exactly what you get on the palate: I think Turkish delight and lychees.”

Best pair: “A blue cheese or something spicy like a chili-infused chocolate.”

“With food pairings, you’re not looking at one food to outweigh the other; you don’t want the wine to shine and the food to be dull, or you don’t want the food to shine and the wine play out, you want them to highlight each other and in that respect that’s what this pairing is.”

Ferox Dornfelder 2017 icewine

Stephani Reis, sommelier and sales at Ferox Winery

“It may be the only Dornfelder icewine being made in Canada right now,” says Reis of the black-red icewine made from a rare German varietal. “We can’t find anyone else doing this,” she says as the unusually dark liquid slips into the glass before her.

Flavour profile: “This is black forest cake in a glass. Dark cocoa, black cherry, a little bit of cinnamon, a little smokiness. It is so different.”

Best pair: “We have this paired with a cocoa and cinnamon French macaron at the Icewine Festival, but you could pair it with a blue cheese or a Camembert with a cherry compote on top.”

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