Charming Ice Wines: Cold Never Tasted So Good

December, what do we do with you? So full of merriment, yet so manic. Emotions bubble to the surface like corks, dredging up memories of past joys, pains, laughter and tears just in time for you to tie a nice bow around them all and start anew in January. And what better tumultuous time of year to give yourself a kick in the pants and try something new, like ice wine?

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Contrary to what you might think, ice wine is not a Cabernet Sauvignon-flavored popsicle (although, that’s a great idea….) but a unique winemaking technique that is made even more precious as it relies on Mother Nature’s thermostat. Many ice wines are made from Riesling, Vidal, and even Cabernet Franc grapes. Others can be made from white varietals like Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer. If made from white varietals, the colors fall in the yellow and amber range, but if made from reds, they get closer to a pink hue.

I got the skinny on ice wines from someone who should know: my new best friend and local Seattle wine diva, Jen Doak, General Manager of The Tasting Room. The Tasting Room is a collective of seven small Washington winemakers who came together in order to share costs and promotion and created a cozy tasting room near Pike Place Market. Jen is a wine industry veteran of ten years, having worked for the Washington Wine Commission before teaming up with Paul Beveridge (how perfect is that name?) to pull the cooperative together. Washington wines have enjoyed a flourish of attention and growth in recent years. “In 1997, Washington had about ninety seven wineries,” tells Jen, “but now we are at over five hundred.” The Tasting Room collective allows the seven winemakers to offer a broad stroke of different styles and the right mix so each winery gets the chance to shine. I recently attended a Savor Seattle tasting tour and our piece de resistance led us to The Tasting Room.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.