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10 things you need to know about… Canadian icewine.

Icewine is one of Canada’s unique gifts to the world. Discover where to start your sipping, and enjoy a marshmallow along the way.

16 September 2015
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Suggested tweet: Ice, ice baby—10 ways to experience the flavours of icewine in Canada http://ow.ly/RqhSN #explorecanada

Sweet and delicious, icewine is something to be experienced, not just sipped. As the world’s largest producer of icewine, Canada has plenty to offer.

Just four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia) have the right weather conditions that allow grapes to freeze on the vine. Once picked, they are crushed, then the juice extracted and fermented—a kind of extreme winemaking that pays off with a luxurious beverage. Start your exploration here:

1) Attend the Niagara Icewine Festival. This grand-scale event brings together top local producers and chefs to explore icewine in all its culinary glory, complete with chestnut roasting, skating and fancy bars made out of ice.

2) Visit the vines. During the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival (held each February), take a tour of the vineyards via horse-drawn sleigh at Gaspereau Vineyards and Avondale Sky. Sainte-Famille Wines Ltd has “Crazy Carpet” sledding. Wheeee!

3) Attend icewine boot camp. The Ice House Winery  in Niagara offers tutored tastings and sensory training so that you can amaze your friends with your unrivalled knowledge.

4) Sample perfection in a glass. Savour an icewine martini—a well-balanced combination of sweet and savoury notes at Five Fishermen in Halifax, offered for a limited time during the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival.

5) Meet the new kid on the icewine block. Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is coming on strong as a grape-centric destination, thanks to stellar wineries taking root. During the annual Nova Scotia Icewine Festival, Annapolis Valley producers and sippers pay homage to the golden nectar with icewine-paired dinners and music.

6) Nibble rather than sip? Indulge in an icewine truffle made from top BC chocolatiers such as Brockmann’s (based in Delta) and Rogers’ (made in Victoria).

7) Savour the sweetness. Don’t miss the samplings at Niagara’s Peller Estates, followed by its famous jumbo, homemade icewine marshmallows roasted over an open fire. Meanwhile, Southbrook Vineyards serves icewine popsicles (for grownups only!)

8) Take a tour. Hop on a mini bus to visit three wineries producing icewine in the Eastern Townships, about an hour from Montréal, QC. Leave the driving to Kava Tours and enjoy the winter wonderland outside.

9. Party hearty in BC. Organic icewine debuted here in the mid-1970s at Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery. Today, more than two dozen wineries, mostly located in the Okanagan Valley, produce it. Sample some faves at the Okanagan Wine Festival, one of Canada’s hottest and most popular winter events, held every January at Sun Peaks Resort, near Kamloops.

10) Mix it up at Quebec’s Domaine Les Brome. Grab a cocktail shaker and try your hand at making icewine-based cocktails. You’ll be amazed at how versatile icewine is.

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