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Does icewine improve with age or does it have an estimated shelf life?
May 22 2018 by Bebbi Crosariol - updated May 24th
That’s essentially a two-part question. My answers: no and sort of.
Icewine, Canada’s specialty dessert wine, generally does not improve with age. At least that’s my opinion. That said, there’s no need to fret much about a forgotten bottle in your cellar. Ten or 12 years won’t do much harm, if any.
I’ve addressed the topic before (you’re not the first to ask this relevant question) and I remain convinced that icewine is one of those exception wines. Just because it does not improve with age does not mean it will degrade sharply with moderate time in the cellar.
As you may know, it is an extremely sweet beverage, thick with natural grape sugar. That sugar acts as a preservative. And, of course, there’s alcohol and acidity in the bottle, too, which fend off bacteria. But for some reason icewine lacks the je ne sais quoi of, say, great Sauternes, a sweet white wine from Bordeaux famous for developing magical aromas and flavours with many decades in bottle. Sauternes is made in a different manner, with fungus-infected grapes rather than with grapes that have frozen on the vine. This no doubt has much to do with the difference.
If icewine were that sort of wine that did improve greatly with age, it almost certainly would have found a much wider following among wealthy collectors, the way such famous Sauternes as Château d’Yquem have. The auction market usually doesn’t lie.
He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.
Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. He was also an editor in the business and arts sections at various times.
Prior to joining The Globe in 1995, he worked as a technology reporter on staff at The Boston Globe and, before that, the Financial Times of Canada. He started his career at the Kingston Whig-Standard, where he moved through a variety of positions, including editorial writer and assistant city editor.
Beppi has a master's degree in the philosophy of science from the University of Toronto and was a Knight fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has won a silver national magazine award and five Canadian Science Writers Association awards.
Beppi also writes for the The Globe's weekly Wine & Spirits newsletter.
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Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2016
VINTAGES# 388306 | 375 mL bottle
CAD $49.95 in Ontario
The 1989 vintage of this Icewine won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo and put Canada on the global wine map, and the wine continues to impress: the 2015 vintage took home a Gold Medal at the 2017 Wine Awards of Canada.
Delicious creamy peach, candied citrus peel and honey flavours. Delectable with raspberry mousse or an assertive cheese such as Gruyère.
Release Date: June 9, 2018
Made in: Ontario, Canada