Since You Asked: Pop open the bottle and try it

I have a 2008 ice wine that I haven't stored in a refrigeration unit. I was wondering if it is still good to drink. I have had the bottle stored upright in a dark cabinet that stays room temperature. Does it only need refrigeration just before serving?

— Hugh R., Ashland

A wine expert would say it's probably OK to drink. But you would have been better off if the bottle had been laid on its side, which keeps the cork from drying out. A dry cork lets air get into the bottle, which can spoil the wine.

It is preferable, however, to keep wine in the dark because sunlight can damage it. Room temperature or cooler is fine for storage. Chill the wine before serving.

As far as the question of drinkability, you're just going to have to open the bottle and see what you think. Generally, ice wines should have a deep, golden color; brown tinges signal trouble.

If the drinking experience isn't what you hoped, don't write off ice wines. The best examples balance decadent sweetness with vibrant acidity, a mouth-pleasing creaminess and brilliant golden color, making them a nice option year-round.

A little goes a long way, though. A 2-ounce pour is standard, so a 375-milliliter bottle should serve seven to eight people at a sitting.

Ice wines are expensive because they are so hard to produce. Grapes are left on the vine until temperatures reach 17 F. The water inside each grape turns to ice, and the remaining juices and sugars become concentrated. The ice and juice are separated at the winery, and the juice turned into wine.

It's these requirements that have ensured Canada's place as the world's major producer of "Icewine," which is a legally protected name.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501, or email to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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