Beauty in the Ordinary

This is not about being brilliant, or extraordinary, it's not about wanting to be famous, or making headlines, or trying to impress...this about sharing a 'gift' each day with the lift the spirit of people when they read this blog, to show them the beauty in the ordinary.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Raold Dahl

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ice Wine

My little town, Niagara-on-the-lake,
is in the heart of Ontario's wine country.

One thing that we make extremely well here
is Ice Wine.

If you have never tried it, it's an intensely-flavoured dessert wine harvested mostly at night after three consecutive days of well-below freezing temperatures.
The grapes have to remain on the vine until these cold temperatures occur;  a risky process because the grapes can be eaten by animals or birds, or rot on the vine.

When the freezing occurs, it concentrates the sugars in the grape resulting in the intense flavours.

A good Ice Wine should taste beautiful and smooth and not-too-sweet.

You drink small quantities of this wine, not whacking-great glass-fulls.

You sip slowly and lovingly.  It's a real treat.

This weekend, we celebrated this delicacy with a full-on festival.

It was seriously, -20C, unbelievably cold.
But there we crazy Canadians all were (with a few crazy Americans and 
Europeans thrown in for good measure).

Yup...that 'cocktail table' is pure ice.

We even had an ice baby-grand.

A couple of the vineyards that have stellar restaurants provided 
delicious food also (I just wanted to eat to hold the warm food in my hands).

Someone roasted a sixty-pound pig in the box underneath these coals!

Just another reason to love living in this little town!

We are now home, watching the football game(s), thawing out, beef stew in the oven
with a little Ice Wine for dessert.

My favourite?



Picked on the extremely cold night of January 4, 2010 at a temperature of -12°C, and pressed through to the following day. The result was a sweet, honey-like nectar of over 40% sugar content. The wine was fermented cool and slow in stainless steel over several weeks.


The characteristic red berries become super abundant on the nose and palate. Strawberries and raspberrys combine with a sumptuous candied apple flavour. Crisp acidity is on hand to meet the rich sweetness of this decadent wine. Masterfully balanced and exceptional paired with seared duck breast with black currant sauce.
Only available in Ontario (for now).

Then there was the whole lesson on wine-making I received from
 Southbrook Vineyards a bio-dynamic winery,
(they use goats!),
but I will save that for another day.


  1. You tickle me Jacqueline by saying " not whacking-great glass-fulls" which some might wish to do just to feel warmer in that negative temperature.

  2. Oh yes! The vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake! I'm so glad you had the winter experience, even at -20C. Sounds absolutely marvellous. Thank you for sharing the adventure.

    Of course, in NotL and thereabouts, the other thing you get after three consecutive days of well-below freezing temperatures, is ice whine, usually from the tourists. (I've been up the Niagara river in winter; I've seen the ice, particularly at the Falls.)

  3. Fantastic - I love a good pudding wine, and yours seems like it would be. How come I was never offered any whilst freezing my arse off on the edge of Lake Huron?

  4. I have to watch out for some of my friends Olive...they can be greedy!
    Miss Sadie...if there was any whining going on...I wasn't listening, mostly because my bloody ears were frozen.
    Can't imagine why you weren't feted better Tom. Should you ever come to NOTL, we would take care of you proper!

  5. I just LOVE Niagra on the Lake!! I've always heard of iced wine and have never experienced it. It looks like a wonderful festivity looks so dang COLD!!!!

  6. Ice wine is such a treat. It was very cold this year for the festival. What brave souls you were.

  7. was rubbish! But if you get the chance, try the's lovely.
    Was it as cold in your neck of the woods Chania? Stupid cold here. I'm going to start trolling the vineyards to see if they ever put their Ice Wines on expensive!

  8. Donna...the cold was rubbish, not the festival. (note to self, read comments before posting!)

  9. I'm rather surprised that the wine can ferment at those temperatures.

    I've never tasted this wine (probably because sweet wine is not my thing) but I shall look out for it. I think the Germans make something similar; or maybe it's in Alsace. Interesting!

  10. Despite the cold, it sounds like an enjoyable way to spend the day!

  11. Don't know about the fermentation process Cro...might be worth visiting one of he vineyards to have a look.

    It was fun Kim, but I've done it in both freezing and balmy temperatures. Believe me, balmy is better!


  13. Minus twenty - shiver shiver! Love all your pictures J - and that wine sounds very more-ish!

  14. Me too John...but not of this's too sweet and it would empty your

  15. wow, worth the cold weather at least once!
    by the way, get yourself a pet!!!!!

  16. Love the pics J., feels like I was there...minus feeling the cold!!!
    I love ice wine...haven't had any in long while though.

  17. How very interesting. I want to go enjoy this wine on an ice table. Neat!


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