Posted by: njbrown | October 23, 2011

Icewine Truffles

Icewine Truffles

The star of Ontario’s wine industry is icewine – the improbable result of grapes frozen on the vine which increases their sugar concentration.  According to The Newspaper of the Waterloo Engineering Society (

Canada is actually one of only two countries in the world who make authentic icewine, the other country being Germany. The process is very precise and ideal to the Canadian climate.

Canadian icewine is usually made from traditional late harvest Vidal or Riesling grapes, and there are very strict regulations to ensure its quality and allow it to be marketed as a Canadian icewine. In fact, the Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA) is a Canadian association which regulates wines produced in Canada and places guidelines on any Canadian wine wanting to display the VQA symbol on their product. By purchasing a VQA wine, you know you are receiving a top quality Canadian wine that meets a stringent set of guidelines.

Icewine cannot be harvested until the grapes are frozen, and these grapes must be clean of the fungus which tends to attack the grapes that are left on the vine. The grapes needed for icewine have to remain on the vine until the temperature drops to between -8 and -12 degrees Celsius for at least 24 hours. This means that the harvesting is typically done after midnight or before 8 am. If the temperature drops too low, then the frozen grapes will actually become too difficult to press. The combination of clean and frozen grapes results in the production of a true icewine.

The low harvest temperature ensures that the wine will have a low water content, and a sweeter, more concentrated flavor; as the pressing of the frozen grapes will remove the water from the grape as ice. A sugar index of 35 degrees or more is mandated by the VQA in order to legitimately call the wine Canadian icewine. This is what makes icewine so highly sought after.

A second pressing of the grapes yields my second favourite wine; late harvest wine. The second pressing has the same flavour complexity as the first, but is not as sweet; although, it is still far sweeter than any table wine.

Each icewine grape supposedly produces only one drop of wine, so icewine is expensive.  A sparkling icewine has been developed that is about $70 per bottle, whereas regular icewine is in the $30 range.

As I am not a wine-drinker, although icewine is considered very sweet, it is something I don’t drink.  However, once I tasted icewine truffles at one of our wineries, I found them extremely enjoyable.  The following is a recipe so that you can enjoy them, too.

Icewine Truffles

(Makes 20)


  • 6 ounces good quality bitter-sweet chocolate (I use Callebaut bittersweet 70% cocoa) chopped
  • 1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
  • 3 tablespoons icewine
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • Small amount finely chopped whole almonds (skin on), to taste
  • Small amount good-quality cocoa powder
  • Small amount finely chopped bitter-sweet chocolate


  1. Combine 6 oz. chopped chocolate, cream, maple syrup and icewine over simmering water. Stir until melted, being careful not to overheat.
  2. Pour chocolate mixture into a shallow container, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Left over mixture can be remelted, cooled and scooped again.
  3. Using the large end of a melon baller, scoop onto a tray lined with parchment or waxed paper. Refrigerate again until firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Place ground almonds, cocoa and finely chopped chocolate onto separate dishes.  Roll each truffle in the coating of your choice.
  5. Store in a parchment-lined sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or freeze uncoated, rolling in coatings after thawing.


  1. Three countries. US too. The many Finger Lakes wineries make lovely authentic ice wines.

    • How nice to know! Thank you!


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