To many people around the world, Niagara’s claim to fame begins and ends with the stunning trio of waterfalls for which it is named. What other reason could there possibly be to travel to the Niagara region except to gaze upon such a majestic and unparalleled onslaught of water?
Well, you could list the restaurants, festivals, biking, fireworks, parks system, and entertainment, but if you want to give a single, simple answer: icewine will suffice. Known as “liquid gold,” icewine is the crown jewel of Niagara’s viticulture in many ways. Delicate, delicious, and difficult to make, icewine is harvested during the winter months but easily enjoyed all year long — especially when you know what to serve it with.
Cheese is an ideal companion to icewine, so long as you use cheeses with strong flavor. Milder cheeses tend to disappear in the presence of icewine’s sweetness and complex acidity, which is why you can always choose blue cheeses like Roquefort or Gorgonzola. If you don’t like blue cheese, hard, aged cheeses also work well. Go for a Parmigiano Reggiano or a very aged Sharp Cheddar.
Spicy food is another fabulous pairing for icewine’s sweetness. Whether you’re eating Thai, Indian, Mexican, or Creole, the spicier the dish, the better your glass of icewine will taste. Besides the way its sweetness balances the spices present, icewine — because it’s best served chilled — can also serve as a bit of a cooling presence should your mouth start to feel feverish.
Another great way to enjoy icewine with a meal is to serve it alongside salty dishes. From anchovies to olives and capers, enjoying icewine in conjunction with salt will enhance your experience of both the food and the wine.
Finding a sweet wine to compliment rich foods such as foie gras, pate, or a meat such as duck can often be tricky. These types of food are higher in fat, and therefore, the dish doesn’t give up much room to the sugars present in a lot of sweeter wines. However, icewine isn’t just a sweet wine; it also has a welcome amount of acidity in it. This complexity allows icewine allows to complement rich food very well.
It may seem counter-intuitive to add a sweet wine to your dessert course, but icewine pairs exceedingly well with sweeter dishes. Because there is such a wide range of icewine available, you can also get remarkably picky about what type of varietal you serve with what type of dessert. Here are a few suggestions:
- Vidal icewine pairs quite well with a wide range of fruit-based desserts, whether you’re serving a banana pudding, a peach cobbler, or a pineapple upside-down cake.
- Riesling Icewine is also prefect with citrus, pineapple, honeydew, and kiwi.
- Cabernet Franc icewine complements berry-centered desserts whether you’re working with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Or, if you’re serving a rich dessert like chocolate, custard, or a crème brulee, look for a Cabernet Franc icewine so that the wine and the creamy richness of your dish won’t be in competition with one another.
Whether you serve it on its own or as an accompaniment to these many food pairing suggestions, Niagara icewine is a treat of exceptional range and quality.