Jane Clare, drinks writer, One Foot in the Grapes, explains the seductive lusciousness of icewines.
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I’ll recap. I’m in the process of going through the alphabet of drinks and this week it’s the turn of the letter E. So far I’ve produced ramblings on the Douro Valley, carmenère, Burgundy and one of my favourite grapes, albariño.
This week, as I journey ever so slowly towards Destination Z, I’m having a stopover with E for eggs and, well, ice.
You’re thinking what on earth does that all mean. Eggs? And “ice” doesn’t even begin with the letter “e” !!!
Let me explain. Ice is worthy of its place here if I offer you the word eiswein. And that, my friends, is one of my favourite styles of wine.
But as for eggs?
You may, now and again, spot on a wine label that a wine contains egg white or sometimes milk. Egg whites and enzymes from milk are used in fining, to remove suspended “floaty bits” from the wine before it is bottled, leaving it clear. A clear wine is what the majority of consumers like and expect.
However, for vegetarians and vegans, the link to animal products is a no-no. Many wine producers are using other products such as pea protein, to fine their wines, making them vegan-friendly.
Some producers also create unfiltered wines. Which leads me in a timely manner to a wine recently arrived in the Co-op, which I enjoyed on a virtual tasting with Ben Cahill, Co-op wine buyer, a couple of days ago. (See panel opposite).
Terra Madre Catarratto 2019 (£6.50) isn’t filtered by egg white or anything else. The label clearly declares that this Sicilian white is “unfiltered”. The result, when you pour, is a slightly cloudy wine (but fear not!). The flavours include ripe mango and peach, with lemon and grapefruit too. There’s also a creamy, nutty, texture.
I’ll now move over to my favourite ice, ice baby. Eiswein – ice wine.
These sweet wines are created in the most extraordinary way. The grapes are allowed to freeze on the vines, then the frozen water is crushed out, leaving behind a concentrated intensity of fruit sugars from which the wine is made.
These wonderful styles are skilfully made mainly in Germany and Canada. In Canada the term icewine has even been trademarked and production methods carefully controlled.
I love the seductive lusciousness of these wines. They’re amazing as a naughty sip, or perfect with cheeses and sweet puddings.
They often pop up in supermarkets as seasonal wines nearer Christmas, but I hunted around and discovered one of my favourites – Midnight Frost Vidal Icewine – is available online at Laithwaite’s (£18.49). Its description tempts with mentions of lychee, pineapple, honeyed peach, candied orange peel and apricot.
Ah, still my beating heart.
Much like the rest of the country, I’ve been enjoying locktails, or whatever you want to call them. Known more commonly as cocktails. But eggs have a place here too (and ice, to be fair).
Especially in this one: gin sour. My daughter has been with me in lockdown and she introduced me to this simple delight.
This is my version: Add 30ml of gin, 15ml of fresh lemon juice, 15ml of fresh lime juice and 15ml of sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker (or a jam jar). And here’s the “e” for eggs bit …. Also add an egg white. Shake and shake until the mixture becomes frothy and white.Then strain it over ice.
Another “e” fantastic for cocktails is elderflower.
Sometimes I’ve just added a good glug of undiluted elderflower cordial to a neat shot of gin and ice. But even better, use an elderflower liqueur. I’ve just bought one from Amazon, the rather glamorous-looking St Germain Elderflower Liqueur (£28.64). My cocktail bible is Difford’s website and there’s a few elderflower cocktails on there, including Elderflower Gin Fizz. My simple version isn’t far removed and works like this: Shake two measures of gin, one measure of elderflower liqueur, and the juice of a lemon. Pour
Its description tempts with mentions of lychee, honeyed peach and apricot
June already. Summer is here but you’re probably not venturing far (though I can’t speak for Dominic Cummings).
If you’re looking for wines to sip in the garden then the Co-op could help you with that.
Here’s a white: Shhh It’s Riesling 2019 is a snip at £6 and is a deliciously dry, zappy, citrus-laden refreshing glass of white wine. There’s a smashing pink which is really unusual. Babich Rosé 2019 (£9) is a blend of six grapes, and gets its colour from merlot and cabernet sauvignon. But the striking nose is one of sauvignon blanc which is the power behind the blend. So if you like savvy B, and you love a pink, then look no further! Enjoy. x