Pairing Riesling Ice Wine: Not Just for Dessert

Sheldrake Point Ice Wine is for dessert, and more!

Sheldrake Point Ice Wine is for dessert, and more!

We are well into the season of feasting and entertaining, and you’re likely picking out wines for your table. Sheldrake Point Winery Dessert Wines are always crowd-pleasers, whether you’re serving guests or you’re bringing a bottle as a gift. Our Riesling Ice Wines, though, are not just for pairing with dessert!

At Sheldrake Point Winery, we want to help you get the most out of each bottle, so we are pleased to offer our tips about pairing these wines…

Ice Wine is one the most intriguing and misunderstood of the wine world. For instance, we often hear this in the tasting room while pouring dessert wines:

“So, I pair this with chocolate cake, right?”

“Yum, I bet this would be great on top of ice cream.”

While the idea of pairing wine with food is completely subjective, I find that pairing a sweet wine with a food just as sweet ends up being flavor and sensory overkill, diminishing the entire experience. That being said, think outside of the box and look at your meal as a blank canvas, waiting for you to paint it with flavors.

Pick Your Course


Try introducing our Riesling Ice Wine before your meal as an aperitif! Fresh fruit, and frozen grapes in particular, make for fresh and brisk flavors. Also, aged cheeses and charcuterie, Cajun-seasoned shrimp, fresh or grilled peaches, or more savory items such as duck pate and foie gras on crostini, make for delicious options that can be paired prior to the main meal. And there’s no reason you couldn’t instead serve this course after dinner, in lieu of dessert.


Pairing Ice Wine with a dinner entrée is more challenging, but not impossible. Experiment with spices and glazes, as they provide great flavor complements.

If pairing with meat, be sure to select a delicate cut—veal, lamb, or filet mignon are great suitors. Sear the meat but don’t overcook, aiming for a nice medium to medium rare for a soft and delicate, butter-like tenderness.

Experiment with seafood as well. Dishes like creole crab cakes or duck confit make great options. Vegetarian options include portabella mushroom, eggplant and tofu. A sweet glaze or spice combination may add complementary flavor to your choice of protein, transforming your meal.


In French cuisine, a cheese course is often served after the meal instead of a sweet dessert. This is a wise approach for pairing with Sheldrake Point Riesling Ice Wine. Try to present the Ice Wine as the dessert, and the food as a way to tame the racy and sweet Ice Wine characteristics. Soft cheeses such as camembert, brie, and chevre are among my favorites for this scenario. Fresh fruit, and sometimes cooked fruit (such as wine poached pears), depending on the season’s selection, provide an interesting balance and interaction of sweet, tart, and juicy.*

Pairing Wisdom

Wine and food pairing is a two-way street, and best described as a relationship. Where one lacks, the other must compensate…it is a constant tug-of-war. The best pairings are often in the synergy of contrasting flavors, à la sweet and salty – a true yin-yang relationship.

Aside from recipes and creating an elaborate meal, just focus on the flavors and creating an experience that YOU will like. Sometimes, a batch of generously salted French fries with a glass of Chardonnay cannot be trumped.

Less is more; eat and drink what tastes good to you this holiday season.


Learn how to make Peach Crostini with Whipped Feta and Honey Balsamic or browse our recipes archive.

Chuck was attracted to the Finger Lakes wine industry during his graduate work at the Cornell Hotel School and was instrumental in the transformation of the old abandoned dairy farm to today’s winery and vineyard. As principle owners, he and his wife Fran assume the risk of the venture and personally see to its priorities and requirements.  Chuck’s focus is on the management and company systems and processes.  When not in the office, he and Fran may also be working with the staff, doing repairs, tending the gardens, or chatting with visitors.

One Response to “Pairing Riesling Ice Wine: Not Just for Dessert”

  1. Bill Krieger, ACS/CCP says:

    I think that your comments on ice wine make a lot of sense, especially in regard to cheese and ice wine–and they jibe with my experience in that particular pairing category.