Q: I was wondering how long one can keep ice wine.
—Barb Person,Oshawa, Ontario
A: The answer depends on whether the bottle of ice wine is open or not and how it has been stored. Yours, I gather from a subsequent email, is unopened and has been kept in a cupboard for around three years. Let's hope the cupboard is kept cool and dark — best for holding wine — and that the bottle has been laid on its side so the cork doesn't dry out and allow air to enter and oxidize the wine.
"Under perfect conditions, ice wine can last for years,'' says Magdalena Kaiser-Smit, public relations director for the Wine Council of Ontario, a non-profit trade organization representing the province's wineries. "Some ice wines can last for 20 to 30 years."
Also impact the survival prospects of your wine is its quality, the vintage and the grapes used. The better the wine, the longer it will last. Ice wines, like most dessert wines, tend to store well because of their residual sugars and lively acidity, Kaiser-Smit says.
You won't know if the ice wine is still drinkable until you open it. Kaiser-Smit says a wine that smells like vinegar or sherry is likely spoiled.
Ice wines are challenging to make and are very expensive. Grapes are left out on the vine until temperatures reach 17 degrees. The water inside the grape turns to ice and the remaining juices and sugars become concentrated. Workers have to go out and pick the grapes (bbbbrrrr!), then the ice and the juice are separated at the winery and the juice turned to wine.
Canada, your country, is the world's biggest producer of ice wines and your home province of Ontario is particularly known for its ice wines.
An opened bottle of ice wine should last several weeks if kept sealed in the refrigerator, Kaiser-Smit adds, which is a good thing because ice wine is usually enjoyed in small quantities.
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.