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Wine to Impress

January 29th, 2010 5 Comments

–By Ron Marks, Resident Wino

Most of what I have to say about wine drinking involves enjoying wine yourself: tasting it, buying it, learning about it, and making it an enriching part of your life. But what about the opposite situation? What if you need wine to impress in a certain situation?

The simplest answer to this concern is one that, if you can follow it, can and should override everything that is to follow it. If you can find a local wine shop where the owner or staff are super knowledgeable about wine and enjoy taking the time with customers, then build a relationship with them and you will never again need to turn to the internet to guide you. However, not very many of you will be fortunate enough to find a relationship like that, so for you, here’s my very idiosyncratic advice.

The good news is I believe there is one kind of wine that will win you accolades in any situation whatsoever. Think you need a different wine for a dinner party than for a romantic dinner for two? Heck no! You can wow your date, spouse, business associates, or friends with one little bottle.

Bring a bottle of Ice Wine. That’s right. To my knowledge, in the history of the world no one who’s been asked to bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party has come with a bottle of Ice Wine. It’s always some boring red or white wine. Way to blend in with the crowd. But with a bottle of Ice Wine, you will stand out for sure.
What is it? Only the most delicious wine ever invented! It’s made from frozen grapes, it’s really sweet, it’s a dessert wine, and everybody loves it. This is the one wine that you not only get the usual polite thank you before your wine is set aside, but will guarantee you are thought of as a person of exquisite taste, charm, and sophistication.

One last thing: Hooray Dessert Wine!

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  • Julia

    One of my favorite experiences at a winery was visiting the Inniskillin winery up in Canada, that is known for the ice wine. We tasted all their varieties and I remember liking their Cabernet Franc ice wine the best. I don’t think I would bring their brand to a dinner party. It’s too pricey. But maybe a more affordable bottle.

    Do you have any suggestions for an affordable easy-to-find ice wine?

  • Ron Marks


    Glad you liked the post. This is the first day the site is up and you’re
    my first comment so, first off, thanks and congrats. Glad you liked the
    post. Here’s my response.

    Inniskillin, huh? Wow. Lucky you. I’ve never had it, but I know it by
    reputation. Yes, definitely pricey. Here’s a couple of options to look for.

    First, I think it’s impossible to find a bad one. They are all delicious.
    But if you want to go beyond that, you can look for ice wine based on grape
    varietal. Rieslings smell and taste like super sweet Rieslings.
    Gewurztraminers smell and taste like super sweet… etc. Pick based on the
    grape aromatics you like best. More floral? Gewurztraminer. And so on.

    Here’s a few I can find locally, and are likely to be widely available (as
    I don’t live near any boutique wine shops):

    From California, Blossom Riesling ~ $20
    From Germany, Schmittson (not sure if I spelled it right) ~ $20
    From the Northwest, Jackson Trigg ~ $30-40
    I’ve also had some wonderful ice wines from Finger Lakes, NY, but I can’t get them here, so I don’t know how widely available they are.

    Hope that helps. And thanks for being my first reader/commenter.



  • Julia

    Hi Ron – Thanks so much for the helpful reply. I went to Inniskillin while in Canada for a wedding. So it was just a happy coincidence that I got to go. This was about a year ago. I had forgotten all about ice wine until your post, and I think it’s a great idea to bring a bottle to a friend’s dinner party or give as a gift. Thank you so much for the helpful suggestions, especially the list of wine. Next time I need to pick up a bottle for someone (or just want to enjoy some for myself) I will make sure to look for these.

    Thanks & congrats on the new MTM column! The site looks wonderful :)


  • David Vacek

    I would agree that Ice Wine’s are usually a great all round choice for a desert wine, but I would add that two other wines should be considered. First, the allmighty Port. It goes well with Chocolate as well as many other deserts and cheeses. Also Tokay can be a less expensive but just as good alternative to Ice Wines, when wineries like Inniskillin can tend to get rather pricey.

  • Totally, the almighty port. And Tokay. I’ll have to do a post just on all the wonderful variety there is in dessert wines.