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Does icewine have a similar shelf life to white wine?

A scene from the harvesting of frozen grapes for icewine production at Henry of Pelham Winery in Ontario’s Niagara region, December of 2002.

J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

The question

How long should icewine be kept? I'm assuming it has a similar shelf life to white wine.

The answer

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It's a reasonable assumption, but icewine tends to be more stable than most dry whites.

The sugar content is extreme, and that sugar acts as a preservative. Think of honey, jam and maple syrup, products that spoil much less quickly than, say, fresh fruit.

On the other hand, icewine represents a special case among famed dessert wines in that, while cellar-worthy, it does not necessarily improve dramatically with age. At least that's my assessment. I think of icewines in my cellar as – pardon the pun – frozen in time. On balance, they hold steady for roughly 10 years, I'd say, depending on the brand and vintage, after which they begin to decline. I stress that this is a debatable opinion, but, hey, you asked.

The Flavour Principle, a new cookbook and drinks compendium by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol, is in bookstores everywhere. Published by HarperCollins.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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