What is “Ice Wine?”

What is “Ice Wine?”

Ever heard of “ice wine” or “Eiswein?” Ice wine is a dessert wine, similar to a Riesling, that started production in Germany back in the 1960’s. This type of wine was actually created by “accident” by a German vineyard owner who left his grapes on the vine for too long, in which they were hit with an early frost. The vineyard owner decided to pick the grapes regardless, and ended up creating eiswein. Ice wine is also known as “winter wine.”

In order to create ice wine, there must be a hard frost. Grapes must be picked immediately when the temperatures are just right, and many workers that process the grapes are unable to work in heated facilities, as this would melt the frost that creates the high sweetness and acidity that is indicative of ice wine.

Due to the fact that the temperatures and the environment need to be just right for the production of ice wines, ice wine is not produced every year. Temperatures must drop to at least 20* F in order for natural ice wine to be made. However, some vineyards are starting to use a method called cryoextraction, which is when the grapes are frozen by man-made means in order to produce a similar product.

Riesling grapes are typically the grapes of choice for producing ice wines, though many vineyard owners are starting to experiment with the production of ice wines from a variety of other grapes, including those used for chardonnays and Merlot.

While the process of creating ice wine started in Germany, one of the largest producers of ice wine today is Ontario, Canada. Grapes must be picked at just the right time for the perfect ice wine. If they are picked too late, they may have had time to rot and are no good at all for wine-making. And if the hard frost is too harsh on the grapes, the juices are not able to be extracted. This perfection makes ice wine difficult and risky for vineyard owners to supply as their primary crop.

Ice wine continues to become a valued addition to the varieties of wine available on the market. If you ever get a chance to enjoy some natural ice wine, give it a sip and remember the hard work and perfect environment that was needed to give you that amazing glass of wine!

Speak Your Mind