When it comes to drinking icewine, there are a few rules most of which go against traditional wine tasting recommendations. Following the proper sipping techniques will open up the flavors of the icewine and cut the sweetness so you can really enjoy its complexities.
After going on an icewine tasting in Niagara Falls, I learned the proper sipping techniques that actually work. Learning how to drink icewine has completely changed my view of icewine and I hope it opens up your palate, too!
How to serve icewine
You can enjoy icewine any time of year and pair it with both sweet and savor foods. Before we get into the exact icewine sipping technique, there are a few important elements that need to be discussed:
- Temperature: The perfect icewine serving temperature is 50ºF (10ºC) and the bottle should be thoroughly chilled before serving.
- Icewine glass shape: Icewine should be poured into a medium to small sized glass, like a sparkling wine flute or a white wine glass - not a large bowled Cabernet glass!
- Storage after opening: Once the bottle has been opened, store for 3-5 days in the fridge.
- Long-term storage: Because of its sweet nature, you should drink icewine within 3-5 years. This type of wine is not an ideal candidate for aging. (Source)
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Step-by-step guide to drinking icewine
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 palate 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
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 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 palate. Swishing icewine around your mouth with some air really opens up the flavors and coats your palate. 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 palate
Holding the sip in your mouth for a few seconds longer will allow the icewine acids to catch up to your palate, completely changing the flavors. It's almost like your sip is a flavor chameleon and the acids change the flavor into something else!
5. Let your palate rest
After completing steps one through four, finish your sip and let the 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 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 palate 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 flavor pairing!
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 questions!