Rich, round, silky and creamy.
That's how wine enthusiasts describe an increasingly popular, decadent dessert wine made from frozen grapes. Fortunately, ice wine -- also dubbed "nectar of the gods" -- will be plentiful this summer, due to frigid temperatures across the nation over the last few years.
"More restaurants across the country are beginning to offer it due to the popularity in the summer and the fruity, chilled taste ice wine offers," says Harold Johnson, general manager of Las Vegas' Mt. Charleston Hotel.
Ice wine is very intense and sweet, with flavors of apricot, lychee, mango and nectarine, note connoisseurs.
But this sweetness is perfectly balanced by bracing acidity, which keeps the wine from being cloying.
Why is it so sweet? Ice wine is made from grapes -- usually Vidal Blanc or Riesling, but sometimes Cabernet Franc or Chamborcin -- left to dry on the vine for two or three months after the harvest. After temperatures drop below freezing for three consecutive days, the grapes are picked and crushed while still frozen. The sweetness hails from from the juices concentrated inthe shriveling grapes."Many people like it because it's sweet," says Tyler Wesslund, wine director at Atlanta's Canoe Restaurant. "It is becoming more popular in U.S. restaurants as a nice alternative to port or sherry."
Crossing the Frozen Pond
Ice wine has been around for decades, but was rarely produced outside Germany until the Canadian government encouraged its winemakers to give it a try in the late 1980s.
Canadian ice wines soon began to pull in prestigious international awards, and by the late 1990s, most of the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario was devoted to ice-wine production.
Over the last few years, the U.S. has also caught on to ice wine.