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For the love of ice wine

Nova Scotians can shake off the winter blues with some “n’ice” reds andwhites at next month’s third annual Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival.

Nova Scotians can shake off the winter blues with some “n’ice” reds and whites at next month’s third annual Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival.

Nine wineries are involved in more than 40 events this year, says festival spokeswoman Christine White.

“There’s lots of outdoor activities, wine tours, wine tastings and dinners paired with Nova Scotia ice wines,” she says.

Wolfville will act as the de facto capital for the festival, as most of the vineyards lay around the Valley village. Local businesses are on board for EntIce on Feb. 6, when Wolfville will turn into a winter wonderland of snow and ice sculptures.

Bold drinkers will have a chance to “freeze your ice off” at the Library Pub, White says, with an 11 a.m. polar-bear dip followed by a much more pleasant dip in the Pub’s rented hot tub and an afternoon spent sampling the region’s finest ice wines.

Domaine de Grand Pré is hosting paint-can curling, which is exactly what it sounds like.

“They’re creating a curling rink right in the middle of their winery,” White says, with the winning team donating the grand prize to their charity of choice.

“Another new thing this year is the opportunity to win your own Nova Scotia wine cellar,” she adds. If you visit any participating winery during the festival, you can enter your name for a chance to win a selection of 50 Nova Scotian wines.

Ice wine, a sweet dessert beverage, may seem made for Nova Scotia’s icy winters, but Grand Pré’s Jurg Stutz says it was discovered by German monks 200 years ago. It was forgotten about before being rediscovered in Ontario in the 1970s.

Stutz explains that you need frozen grapes to make ice wine, so the grapes must be harvested in temperatures below -8 C. That means they are often collected in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, when floodlit fields yield the frozen-solid fruits, ensuring the “sweetest, highest” concentration of juice you can get. As they warm, the sugar levels lower.

When the perfect balance is reached, the presses are stopped and the juice selected for fermentation.

“It’s definitely something very special. It’s very sweet,” Stutz says. “It’s very rich, very flavourful, very concentrated.”

The Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival runs from Feb. 4 to 14. Go to www.nsicewinefestival.ca for a list of events.