There are a few rules to drinking icewine, most of which go against the traditional way of drinking wine. Following the proper sipping techniques will open up the flavors of the icewine, cut the sweetness, and really enjoy its complexities. After going to a few wine estates in Niagara Falls, I learned the proper icewine sipping techniques that actually work. Learning how to drink icewine has completely changed my view of icewine, forever!
How to Drink Icewine
First of all, there are some obvious but also crucial elements to drinking icewine. When enjoying a bottle of icewine, the wine needs to be chilled to about 50ºF (or 10ºC). When serving, icewine should be poured into a medium to small wine glass, like a sparkling wine flute or a white wine glass - not a large bowled Cabernet glass!
1. When sipping, avoid icewine contact with the tip of your tongue
The tip of your tongue is where your sweetness receptors are located. By avoiding contact, your pallet is able to better taste all the other flavors on all other parts of your tongue, making the flavors more dynamic. Letting the other tongue flavor receptors experience the wine without the sweetness allows the other flavors to come forward and not get overpowered by the sweet sensations. Our wine guide even recommended tasting the icewine "in the back of your mouth" to really coat all the flavor receptors on your tongue.
2. Take bigger sips of icewine
When drinking traditional wine, we tend to take smaller sips, which is not recommended for drinking icewine. The bigger the sip, the more you really taste the icewine flavors!
3. Incorporate air and swish the icewine around your mouth
When taking your sip, allow in some air and swish the sip around your pallet. Swishing icewine around your mouth with some air really opens up the flavors and coats your pallet. When swishing the icewine around, press your tongue firmly to the back of your teeth so it stays out of the way and doesn't activate your sweet receptors.
4. Let the sip linger on your pallet
Holding the sip in your mouth for a few seconds longer will allow the icewine acids to catch up to your pallet, completely changing the flavors. It's almost like your sip of icewine is a flavor chameleon and the acids change the flavor into something else!
5. Let your pallet rest
After completing steps one through four, finish your sip and let the icewine flavors linger. When I take a sip and pause, the flavors change once again - I would have completely missed some flavors if I quickly took another sip or wasn't fully focused on the full flavor experience.
When using these icewine sipping techniques, I absolutely tasted more of icewine's sweet, juicy flavors and toned down sweetness. With every passing second, from the initial sip to the final gulp, I could pick out different ingredient notes during each phase of the sipping experience. I would first taste guava, then the acid on my lingering sip changed the flavor to honey comb, then after I finished my sip my pallet was filled with raspberry.
Icewine Flavor Pairings
The ultimate icewine flavor pairing is something bold, like buffalo wings. Yes, buffalo wings! I know this sounds a little crazy but hot sauce and blue cheese go perfectly together with icewine, which means buffalo wings with a blue cheese dipping sauce is the ultimate icewine flavor pairing! If you are thinking of making this icewine food pairing a thing, here is an awesome Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad recipe to try!
I've also heard of people making icewine cocktails and blending the drink with ice (how fitting). If you are thinking of making an icewine cocktail, I would highly recommend a doing half icewine, half Ciroc vodka and blending it together with ice. Ciroc vodka is made from grapes, so it's a match made in icewine cocktail heaven!
Now you know how to drink icewine! I promise, these icewine sipping techniques will change your icewine experience. This style of wine is so flavorful, vibrant, and fruit forward, it would be a disservice to not enjoy it and take it to its highest flavor potential!
Still have questions about icewine? Comment below, I would love to answer your icewine sipping questions!