In this second video chat, Karen King talks about pairing icewine with chocolate as well as being on the CBC TV show The Big Decision.
You can also see the Icewine cocktails we discussed in part one of our conversation …
Blue Cheese and White Wine Pairing: Video Part 3
Building a Persuasive Wine Brand: Arlene Dickinson
Restaurant Wine Service: The good, the bad and the ugly with Scott Carney, MS
See all wine video chats here.
Icewine and Chocolate Pairing Video
Natalie: We’re back with Karen King of The Ice House. We’re talking about her ice wines and some unusual pairings from wasabi peas to blending it with a simple white wine. She’s got all kinds of great ideas for extending the diversity and life of ice wine as we moved it from the end of the meal to the front of the meal as a cocktail.
Natalie: It’s pretty amazing Karen, it really is. You wanted to talk first about your Riesling ice wine. What would you do with this one that’s unusual?
Karen: This one blew me away because I hadn’t tasted a Riesling ice wine that had an orange, tangerine, grapefruit note and that’s one of my favourite notes in a white wine. When Jamie makes this one I was like, “Oh! This is really heaven.” So, we decide to pair it with spicy appetizers. Because we’re in the winery, we look for simple things that we can pair it with, things like riceworks or tortilla chips or anything that has a little spicy chili and heat flavour to it so that people could taste it and see how it pairs. The thing that I’m always looking for when pairing ice wine is that it has a big initial impact of complex fruit, then it goes through that caramelized flavour and then gets into its acidity. Usually at the end there’s a different kind of fruit note. In this case it’s the orange, tangerine, grapefruit note. I’m going to have you taste it straight up first…
Natalie: Straight up.
Karen: just so you can notice those last notes. You really have to pay attention for this.
Natalie: I’m loving that I don’t think it needs anything but …
Karen: You mean food?
Natalie: Just pair it with more of this.
Karen: Yes. For the experience of knowing how it does go with spices, I’m going to invite you to try those. I think you have riceworks with you.
Natalie: I have a various of chips, what’s left here, I have been eating them … I have chipotle, I have chili, jalapeño and I have lime chips. I have all three, here.
Karen: Okay, love it. The chili is really a good example of how the Riesling goes well with spices so try that with the Riesling.
Natalie: Okay, well crunching noise. That is interesting. I like it. What’s the combination doing here?
Karen: You have the chili chips that have that chili and salt. This is chemistry 101. You have the basic taste of sweet, sour, bitter and salt. The ice wine has the sweet and the acidity so whenever you introduce the third basic note, you’re getting more complexity in your mouth. The aromatics have to be good but as soon as you introduce a third basic taste, your mouth is going, “Oh! That’s fun. That’s kind of giving me something different.” That is really what makes it work. The other piece is long flavour delivery. Ice wine has such a long flavour delivery, it can marry and pair up with foods that have that long flavour delivery. A simple white wine would be killed by that kind of intensity.
Karen: We can really enjoy this particular one with Indian food. I remember reading, “Don’t serve wine with Indian food because it doesn’t stand up to it.” This Riesling or our Vidal really does make it taste very rich and powerful.
Natalie: It really soaks it up and yet as you said, you have various elements with the ice wine already and the spicy chips just add another note. It truly is like adding a couple more instruments into the orchestra.
Karen: I love that.
Natalie: It was pretty, it was pleasant listing to the opening overture but now we’re bringing in the woodwinds and the percussion undertones. Our mouth is having a lot more fun.
Karen: I love that you’re talking about music because I see flavour profiles as music. The next one that we’re going to be looking at is the Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder Ice wine are what I call lower toned fruit notes. Part of the research we did was wanting to understand the emotional drivers around the different occasions for drinking wine. We learned that the Riesling and the Vidal tare light and fun and you do the party thing with those. But with the Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a mellowness that makes you want to relax because you had a hard day, Natalie.
Natalie: I know, drinking all day people just don’t know.
Karen: I’m going to invite you to have this one with your chocolate but start with this.
Karen: You want me to tell you the notes that we’ve identify or you wanted to do it yourself?
Natalie: No, I would like to be told first.
Karen: These are for viewers who don’t know that we do not add anything to the Ice wine. Only Mother Nature can change the nuances of the notes. The concept of taking grapes and putting them into your freezer and hoping that you get all these wonderful nuances of different fruit notes is not going to happen. Only Mother Nature can make the change on the vine. With this Ice wine, there’s a dark cherry note that is enhanced with bitter chocolate and so it’s a note at the beginning, there’s also a little bit of a cooked raspberry, fresh strawberry, plum, fig and then people often say there’s a port quality to it.
Karen: So it’s complex and it’s mellow.
Natalie: Yes, it’s lovely and your power of suggestion is working.
Natalie: I’m getting all that.
Karen: I think the other thing that I love about this, the colour is a real ruby red. Jamie had made a Cabernet Sauvignon previously that was pretty. It was pinkish salmon so he wanted to get a richer ruby red and he used the Dornfelder the grape in his ice wine to get that very rich, red colour.
Natalie: Dornfelder is that the German version of Pinot Noir?
Karen: What I’ve heard it’s a grape that originated in Germany but is now being grown here so it’s like another varietal.
Natalie: I went ahead I skipped to have a chocolate.
Karen: Okay, so now you’re adding that bitter note.
Natalie: And the ice wine is now not as sweet in a good way.
Natalie: I’m liking that a lot.
Karen: Yes, if you like dark chocolate desserts then this is when I say go for dessert with this one, if you want a nice wine for dessert. The other Ice wines are more fun at the beginning of the meal.
Natalie: This one is really working. This dark chocolate can be bitter but the ice wine fills it out and so there is no bitterness but the chocolate rushes in.
Natalie: And fills out there.
Karen: I think that whole idea of emotionally how you feel at the end of the meal, you want to be mellow.
Karen: This is more of a mellow wine. I can’t really explain from a musical point of view why that is but from a sensory profile, I can say, “Oh! That makes sense.” But you know when music is mellow and you know when a wine is mellow.
Natalie: Yes, absolutely this is a burning ambers kind of wine, like little flickering, red eyes in the fire place.
Karen: If you still have that boring Pinot Grigio that you had.
Karen: This adds about just enough colour to make it a Rosé and see what it does for you.
Natalie: Not too bad, okay here we go.
Karen: What you don’t want to do is add too much so that it is tasting like an ice wine. It’s that threshold level that just enhanced it and either makes it more interesting and longer in flavour delivery or it just smooths it out beautifully.
Natalie: That’s nice, what I’m getting now are wild tart raspberries.
Karen: Oh! Isn’t it fun?
Natalie: Yes, I’m running through an open field of them. I’ll be back. That’s awesome, that is so great, Karen. I love the way you’ve redesigned Ice wine. It’s terrific.
Karen: Thank you, it’s fun, it really is.
Natalie: Speaking of designing, tell me about your experiences you were on The Big Decision on CBC with Steven and Chris, The Designer Guys. I think it started with The Big Decision, is that right?
Karen: It did. We were a small winery. My brother is the finance guy and I said, “Kevin, how much money have I got in my advertising and marketing budget to move forward?” I had just really started the role and he said, “Nothing.” I said, “Okay.” I love social media because it evens out the playing field for all of us who are doing different things. I decided to apply for The Big Decision. I had to use my camera and take photos of us and write it quite a long proposal of why we thought we would be a good candidate for the show. We really wanted to get some awareness about the Ice House out there. The day after the show aired the hits on our website went from a hundred or so to over 7000.
Natalie: Wow! Awesome! Why do you think they chose you? I’m sure there are a lot of struggling wineries. It’s not a high margin business, so why did they picked you?
Karen: First of all, you have to enter, you have to apply. They’re going to show you the way they’re going to show you and if that’s okay with you, then that’s okay. On the Steven and Chris Show, I made a blunder on this element I brought to show how you can press ice wine. They said, “Didn’t you prepare yourself for national TV”? It was one of those crazy days and I said. “Sorry.” That happens in my life on regular basis. You just can’t be prepare for everything, you can’t.
Natalie: Absolutely, No, people like reality.
Natalie: So you were on The Big Decision and you went through the whole business case with them. What were the key insights that you got from Jim Treliving that you spoke with?
Karen: You know the biggest thing he did for us was to give us confidence in the project. He said to us, “You guys can probably do it on your own but I’d like to invest.” What we said was, “Can we wait another 6 months because we’re getting into the busy season. We wanted to know how we were really doing.” We’re still negotiating with him. We haven’t yet come to any conclusion. When you have someone like Jim Treliving believing in your product, it really does feel solid and so that felt good.
Natalie: That’s awesome. On Steven and Chris, did you see another big hit on your website?
Karen: They were fabulous. They were willing to really work with it. People come to the winery and they say, “Hi!”. Its like they know me and somebody said, “You’re like a celebrity.” Somebody else said, “No, you’re really not like a celebrity, you’re like an old high school friend that we know.” We want people who come to the winery to feel welcomed. We want them to feel like they are old friends. The hardest time is when t too many people come in at once. We can’t give them the attention we really want to give them. The theory behind it was when someone comes to my house they always get a drink and they always get something to eat and it’s the same thing at the winery.
Natalie: I’ll be right over.
Karen: We hope you do, yes great.
Natalie: Absolutely and so for folks who want to visit you Karen, what part of Niagara are you in?
Karen: Nat, we’re in Niagara on-the-lake, on the Niagara Parkway. That is the main road that goes into Niagara-on-the-lake and it also feeds from Niagara Falls. People go to the falls and then they want to go into Niagara-on-the-lake. We’re the first winery on the left, so our location was really great. We are actually had more visitors internationally until The Big Decision and then we begin to have Canadian visitors. They just didn’t know about us. They didn’t stumble across us and so The Big Decision brought a lot of Canadians and truly we’re Canadian and we’re proud of it. Jamie is one of the few Canadian winemakers who has really had success so we’re going, “Yes! Yes! We’re Canadian.”
Natalie: I’ll drink to that.
Karen: Thank you.
Natalie: Alright Karen, Thank you so much.
Karen: My pleasure.
Natalie: This is my blend I think, anyway.
Karen: Cool! The Rosé!
Natalie: I’m going to have fun with this. This isn’t over. Anyway, thank you Karen!
Karen: My pleasure.
Natalie: Take care, all the best to you.
Karen: Thank you very much.