I had never heard of Ice Wine until the other day. We were on a wine tour and some of us were running out of steam when we arrived at Columbia Winery toward the end of the day. Lounging in front of the fireplace the tour director was telling us the story of getting caught in Eastern Washington by an early freeze in 2006. And, that it had produced an award winning Ice Wine.
Ice Wine in Washington is rare and has been described as Nectar in a glass. To craft ice wine the temperature has to drop to below 32 degrees F. The water in the grapes freezes but sugars and other dissolved solids don’t. They have to process it while the grapes are frozen so pickers go out into the field at night.
I don’t have a gourmet taste for wine and some of the others in our party were teasing me that the wine I preferred tasted like cool aid. A clerk over heard our tour directors story and invited us to ‘taste’ the award winning wine that the 2006 freeze had produced. We might have been full of lunch and wine but we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this. And, OH OH OH . . . before I even took that first sip others were proclaiming that I’d like this one . . . and I did. It is sweet a dessert in it’s self. We ended up with three beautifully packaged bottles.
The whole process of Ice Wine is fascinating. I went online and found this video of the wine we bought that explains the process it went through.
There is a number of recipe’s using Ice Wine. Here’s one.
Ice Wine Jell-O Squares With Half-Frozen Champagne Grapes
Adapted from Donatella Cooks by Donatella Arpaia
2 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
1 (375-milliliter) bottle of ice wine
Seedless Champagne grapes, for serving
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small saucepan. Soak for about 5 minutes, until softened.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of ice wine to the gelatin mixture and warm the mixture over low heat, just until the gelatin melts and the mixture is completely smooth. Remove from the heat and transfer to a metal bowl. Add the remaining wine. Cool to room temperature, then ladle into 4 to 6 small glasses. Chill until set, about 2 hours. Alternatively, pour the mixture in a shallow square pan. Chill until set, then cut into 1″ cubes.
3. About 25 minutes before serving, rinse the grapes with cold water and spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet without touching one another. Place in the freezer until serving time. Arrange the ice wine shots on a platter (or, as I did, in carefully cut squares on ceramic soup spoons), and surround with the partially frozen grapes.
Serves 4 to 6.