Wine: Winter’s sweet side

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From the March 20, 2014 edition

Most of us are ready to raise a glass to the end of frigid temps. An ice wine might be the perfect way to bid winter adieu.

Ice wine is, generally speaking, a sweet wine created from grapes that have been left on the vine for the winter. (So really, there were some perks of this especially cold winter, right?)

The overripe grapes are then harvested after they freeze, and put through the typical crushing process. But frozen grapes yield much less and much more concentrated juice.

Ice wine is among the types Ohio wineries are most well-known for, but sadly, their sticker price exceeds the limit we usually put in place for ourselves at Alive.

Instead, Frost Bitten ice riesling ($12 at Hausfrau Haven) is much more budget-friendly. It’s an undersized bottle (375-ml versus the typical 750-ml bottle) from Washington’s Yakima Valley that holds a somewhat-syrupy-thick, golden liquid.

A label down the side reads, “Wine made from post-harvest frozen riesling grapes.” Hmm. Internet research reveals that a Cleveland-area guy owns Frost Bitten and has the grapes frozen after they’re harvested, making this an ice-wine-style wine as opposed to a traditional ice wine. Still, he’s been getting high marks for the taste and even some credit for the innovation.

About the taste… apple, peach and white grape flavors are strong, as is the 16-percent residual sugar (it smells vaguely of honey). At 9.5 percent, the alcohol content isn’t as high as some traditional-style wines. It would be great to mix with Champagne or combine in a cocktail.

Either way, for a sweet way to show winter the door (or just enjoy sweet wines or meads), pick this one up.

Photo by Meghan Ralston