Hell, even the once-totally-ignored sweet Sherries are cooler now than Ice Wine (see what I did there?).
Personally, I have a sweet tooth, which probably explains my borderline-obsession with the dessert section of the fine wine store shelves. Ice wine is the kind of thing over which wine geeks have wet dreams: it’s unique, intense, and usually only available in tiny quantities because it’s such a pain in the friggin’ ass to produce well. Actually, I think that you might need to be at least a little bit insane – like, not-quite-normal, a-little-touched-in-the-head, sure-I’ll-play-ice-hockey-goalie or sure-I’ll-be-a-rock-drummer insane – to actually want to harvest grapes for ice wine.
The short-shrift given to Ice Wine, even in some of the most storied wine books, kind of fills me with an unhealthy rage (it’s okay, I’m over it). The closest thing that I’ve found to my feelings regarding the stuff – particularly the Canadian stuff – in written equivalent comes from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible (which I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting here):
“…the greatest Canadian icewines posses an almost otherworldly contrapuntal tension between acidity and sweetness, making drinking them an ethereal sensation. That’s saying it in an intellectual way. But here’s the kin-in-you version: You’ll want to lick the bowl.”
It’s exactly right; she’s exactly right.
It’s not often that you get a combination of such intense, pure fruit expression, sugar, and raging acid. Those only come by way of the world’s best dessert wine experiences, in which I would unabashedly the best offerings of icewines from the nation of Terrence and Phillip, and the eiswines of Germany and Austria. The northern U.S. territories making Ice/Iced Wines probably aren’t quiiiiiite there yet, but they are catching up quickly, and are absolutely quick studies. And don’t laugh too much at the dessert wines made from artificially frozen grapes, folks, because I’ve had a spate of them lately that would make you rethink writing off some of those beauties.
The infographic summary of the article is available below after the jump, but there’s quite a bit of text for you to scan quickly on your phone while pretending to be reading it, covering the difference between Ice Wine and Iced Wine in the USA, Eiswein in Germany versus that of Austria, and testifying my love of the glorious Icewines of the Great White North.