Riesling Popsicles - a new summer sensation

Long time readers know of my concern (obsession?) with wine temperature. Summer is thus a particularly challenging time for me. I am constantly transferring wines from the fridge to the ice bucket to the freezer. I work on perfecting the frosted wine glass to combat the warmer weather. Is five minutes in the freezer sufficient to cool the glass down or does it need to be ten? What about the fridge? However, after recently stashing a bottle of wine in the freezer – and forgetting to take it out – I had a heat wave-inspired idea. Riesling Popsicles. Here’s how to make them – or try to.

First, start with your Popsicle molds. These can be a little difficult to come by but craft stores should have them. In my case, the mold from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (as in, way, way beyond) also came with straws on the sides for those days when slushies are more appropriate. Paper cups and plastic spoons will work when desperate measures are called for or times are tight.

Second, choose your Riesling. One beautiful thing about Riesling is you can leverage the International Riesling Foundation taste profile to dial in the style of Popsicle you want - dry, off-dry, or sweet. For my Popsicles, I used two wines – Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Dry Riesling as well as their Harvest Select Riesling, which is sweeter.

Third, pour your Riesling into the mold and place the Popsicles in the freezer. After the Popsicles have set in the mold – about two hours – turn the mold over to allow the Popsicles to set better to the stick. This is the critical step! Do it too late and they won't stick. Do it too early and things are FUBAR. I recommend putting something beneath the Popsicles in case they drip. Note that the style of Riesling you have chosen may affect how long the Popsicles take to freeze. Leave them overnight for best results. If you are using a German Riesling, make sure to use a timer.

Finally, remove your Riesling Popsicles from the mold and enjoy - almost.

Here’s the catch (there’s always a catch). First, there are some aesthetic issues when creating the Riesling Popsicles. Clear Popsicle molds with Riesling look distinctly like urine samples. Second, and more importantly, the Popsicles can come out a wee bit slushy. Getting them to adhere to the stick can be tricky if not impossible. Having a bowl on hand - and spoon - is recommended. They require extremely fast consumption, which is, thankfully, not a problem. Some of your sommelier friends may tell you that the alcohol has come out of balance, but they miss the point entirely. I found the Harvest Select Riesling, which has more sugar, to be considerably more enjoyable.

I am still trying to find the magic ingredient to hold the Riesling Popsicles together - I seem to recall a winemaker saying something about watering back?

Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Can't wait to try this. One question. You advise "If you are using a German Riesling, make sure to use a timer." Is this because of alcohol differences or is it just that German wines demand greater precision generally?
    Mike Veseth
    The Wine Economist

  2. Chris, my lawyer - I should say lawyers, you can't imagine the numbers of them - are working on tradmarking the term Winesicles as I type this.

    Mike, thanks for stopping by. For the German Riesling, this is definitely due to the demand for precision. Did you see all those worried faces when the Riesling Rendezvous sessions started late?

    Taryn, I do believe a Riesling Popsicle party is in order!

  3. If you need a lead on Liquid Nitrogen, just get a hold of Cat Cora at Food Network (she seems to use it in every Iron Chef battle....)

  4. Sean,
    You are a little late to the party. I'm going to get my lawyers to contact your lawyers as I believe I had this idea first. Well, mine was for Alsatian otter pops but close enough. Here's my note from last August for the 2004 Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg:

    Golden yellow in color, I couldn't wait for my first swig. This wine was so refreshing, I wanted to freeze it and make Weinbach Otter Pops so the neighborhood kids could have a more high class popsicle option. Quince, honeysuckle (who doesn't love to suckle honey?), peaches, and rocks fill the nose with pleasing aromatics as the acidic grip takes hold of your tongue once swallowed. The crisp apple and pear balance out the acid and the minerality on the finish leaves you thinking Chablis. Dry riesling just continues to impress me. Love it. 92pts

  5. Jared, darn. Otter pops. Why didn't I think of that?!?

  6. Sean, we tried this a couple of weeks ago with the Eroica 2006 Riesling Ice Wine. Our neighbors have one of those contraptions that make popsicles in 10 minutes. Decadent!

  7. Andy, the Eroica Ice Wine? That IS decadent. Sounds delicious.

    Anita, alas alcohol is very effective at lowering freezing points. Perhaps I'll have to find one of my science friends with a -80 freezer! :)

  8. You know...a lot of people think you all sound retarded.

  9. We are putting cold naked cherubs on our labels so Alabama will ban them.

  10. Save the molds, the mess, the urine colored cycles, and just drink the half frozen bottle of wine, no glass, just straight out of the bottle..

  11. Maybe gelatin to help?