Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"I" is For Icewine, Icewine Martini In The Summer, That Is...

Icewine Martini Recipe Below

Icewine is certainly recognized as a winter beverage because it is produced from grapes left to freeze on the vine in the winter. The grapes are hand picked when the temperature drops below minus 8 degrees Celsius.
Traditionally, this dessert wine is served after a meal, only an ounce or so, and is often partnered with fruit based desserts.

While inferior icewine tends to be overly sweet and cloying on the palate, quality icewine is not cloying. It actually offers an equal balance of intense sweetness as it enters the palate, followed by crisp acidity that sneaks up from behind in the after taste. The VQA label on the bottleneck tells you the wine is of quality grapes. (To reduce the experience of the sweetness, be sure to serve Icewine extremely cold. Chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, but never in the freezer. )

Icewine need not only be served in winter. It’s an excellent wine for upscale, summer dining and entertaining. How about a cold melon and icewine gazpacho? Simply puree a ripe honeydew melon. Stir in 2 ounces of Icewine. Chill until ready to serve and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve this fruit gaspacho with an Icewine Martini. (Recipe below).

The Canadian Icewine martini has been making its d├ębut in trendy restaurants throughout North America, including Opus Restaurant in Yorkville, Red Square in South Beach, Miami, and at the Madison and L’Opera in Long Beach, California. At Opus Restaurant an icewine martini runs about $12.00 per glass.

When making an Icewine cocktail use quality liquors and fresh ingredients, such as juice from fresh lemons and limes. If you’re adding ice to the cocktail, refrain from over shaking. This dilutes the drink. Also aim for an Icewine cocktail balanced in its flavours. The cocktail should not be overly alcoholic and offer a balance of sweetness, sourness and if desired, pleasant bitterness.

The Icewine martini combines a delicate mix of half an ounce of vodka with an ounce of Vidal or Riesling Icewine and is stirred, not shaken, to create a crystal clear liquid with a hint of willow green. The perfect Icewine martini is garnished with a frozen icewine grape, lightly dipped in sugar and some fresh mint as a garnish. If you want to get fancy, garnish your martini with sugared mint. Place fresh mint leaves on waxed paper. Using a kitchen paint brush, paint both sides of the mint with egg white and sprinkle with fine white sugar. Leave the mint to dry for several hours, even days. The Canadian ritual is to first eat the grape or sugared mint before taking your first sip of the decadent martini. Some restaurants put frozen grapes on a skewer, served in the martini.

A kir Catherine is made from one ounce of Icewine with four to five ounces of brut sparkling wine. Don't waste good Champagne. Along with the Icewine martini, this cocktail serves as a refreshing aperitif that complement fresh fruits and soft cheeses. A kir Catherine can also be served with your cold melon and Icewine gazpacho.

How about Icewine sangria? This flavourful cocktail combines one and a half ounces of Icewine, half an ounce of brandy, two ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice, juice from half a lime, a splash of grenadine, two ounces of soda water, seedless grapes, and a slice of fresh mango for the garnish. I always add fresh mint. I luuuzzzz fresh mint! It adds colour and harmonizes extremely well with fruit flavours. Fill a Collins glass with ice, and then add the sangria.

A Niagara Orchard Cocktail combines an ounce of Icewine, a half ounce of vodka, juice from half a lemon, a splash of sparkling wine and, for the garnish, a few, ripe Niagara cherries. Place all the ingredients, except the cherries, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir the mixture until chilled. Strain the liquid into martini glasses. Top each with a splash of Champagne and garnish with a cherry.

And remember, a simple, yet elegant ounce of chilled Icewine tastes fantastic when served with fresh wedges of cantaloupe after your summer barbecue.

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