Lots of important things started as mistakes. Columbus, for example, was supposed to be on his way to India, but America somehow got in the way. The rest is history. In science, mistakes are notorious for leading us in new and unpredictable directions. When an apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton's head, he could have invented the Tarte Tatin or come up with Murphy's Law. But being neither a French chef nor an Irish pessimist, Newton took the occasion to discover gravity.
Mistakes have been instrumental in the history of wine as well. In fact, wine itself was most likely a mistake: grape juice left in a goatskin bag that started to ferment. Much later, champagne was discovered when still wine started to referment inside a tightly sealed bottle.
The rarity called icewine was originally a mistake, too. According to one account, it was invented in Franconia, Germany, when desperate peasants tried to make wine from grapes frozen by an unexpected frost during the harvest of 1794. When the grapes were pressed, most of the water stayed behind in the form of ice. Just a trickle of rich nectar, too sugary to freeze, went into the wine vat. The result was dazzling.
With plenty of cold weather to go around, but summers warm enough to encourage vine growth, Canada is the perfect place for icewine. In fact, it's the largest producer of icewine in the world. Here are three favorites.
INNISKILLIN 1999 RIESLING ICEWINE ($65)
Most of Canada's icewine comes from the Niagara Peninsula, actually an isthmus between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, broken by Niagara Falls. Just a few miles to the east of the Falls is Inniskillin, a winery that has pioneered the development of icewine in North America.