Niagara Icewine Festival: January 13-29, 2012

Spend a few weekends sampling ice wines to the sounds of live jazz

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, it’s not just the weather that’s icy come January — it’s the wine, as well. The town’s annual Niagara Icewine Festival showcases the unique tastes of local ice wine as it pairs with a live jazz band and culinary pairings.

There’s no lack of pomp around the more than two week-long festival, which hosts a masquerade gala, ice wine and cheese seminars, “Icewine Experience” days spent at local wineries, and an ice wine discovery tour for the newcomers. Speaking of newcomers, ice wine is a sweet dessert wine that comes from grapes that are frozen while on the vine. They’re thicker and more syrupy than other wines with a much higher sugar content. And if there was any place to learn about ice wine, it’s Niagara: the largest ice wine producer in the world.

There are even courses on cooking with ice wine, complete with some tips on pairings, and an ice wine maker’s dinner at Reif Winery to round out the festival. Book a room at the classic Prince of Wales hotel and use the festival as an excuse to explore the incredibly charming town that happens to be filled with a fantastic food scene and intimate tasting rooms. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/tamara_smith_)