The Pleasure of Ice Wine



What is ice wine?

Ice wine is a kind of dessert wine, prepared from grapes that have been covered by ice while they still on the vine. Though the water freezes, the sugars and other liquefied solids do not freeze, allowing a stronger grape must to be extracted from the ice-covered grapes, causing a smaller quantity of more concentrated, extremely sweet wine. The grape must is the freshly extracted grape juice that holds the seeds, skins, and stems of the fruit. With these types of wines, the freezing takes place earlier than the fermentation.

Why ice wine is expensive?

The production of Ice wine is a risky job because the frost may never come earlier than the grapes rot or they are otherwise lost. The manufacturing process needs a large labour force to pick the entire crop within some hours, at a moment’s notice, in the early morning, which is extremely cold. This causes relatively small quantities of this type of wine being made all over the world, making the wine usually quite expensive.

The elevated sugar level in the grape must shows the way to a slower-than-standard fermentation. The fermentation process in manufacturing of these wines will take several months to complete when compared to the preparation of normal wines. Furthermore, unique strains of yeasts are supposed to be used in the preparation of these wines. Due to the lower harvest of grape musts and the complexity of processing, these wines are considerably more expensive than normal wines. They are regularly sold in a 375 ml or 200 ml bottle.

Production of ice wine

The production of ice wine is restricted to that minority of the wine-growing areas in the world, where the required cold temperatures can be anticipated to be reached with some promptness. Germany and Canada are the largest manufacturers of these wines in the world.

Natural ice wines need a hard freeze, which denotes that the fruits may suspend on the vine for some months after the normal harvest. If a freeze does not approach rapidly, the grapes will be lost or they may rot. If the freeze is too harsh, no juice can be taken out from the grapes. The longer the harvest is postponed, the more fruit will be dropped or they may be lost to wild animals. As the fruit must be pressed while it is in the frozen condition, fruit pickers must work regularly at night or too early in the morning, harvesting the fruit within some hours, at the same time as cellar workers should work in cold spaces.

Features of ice wine

Some of the features of this type of wine include:

 This type of wine is incredibly refreshing rather than cloying, owing to high acidity.

 Usually, this kind of wine has an average to complete body, with a long-lasting finish.

 Generally, the nose is reminiscent of pear, peach, dried apricot, citrus, honey, figs, green apple, caramel, etc., according to the varietal.

 The smell of exotic and tropical fruits, like pineapple, lychee, or mango is pretty common, particularly on white varietals.

 Usually, this kind of wine has lower alcohol content than the normal table wine.

 Some German Riesling ice wines have as low as 6 % of alcohol content, whereas these wines from Germany have higher alcohol content that ranges from 6 % to 13 %.

In most years, Canadian ice wines usually have higher must weight when compared to those of German wines because of the consistent winters in Canada. Ice wine cannot be prepared with the grape must that has inadequate Brix level. So, it is frequently sold as select late harvest or special select late harvest wine at a fraction of the cost of the real ice wine.

Photo source  Florin Negoita

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Zyni April 24, 2015, 3:25 pm

    This is interesting. I noticed that ice wines tend to be more pricey. I wondered why. I figured it must have something to do with supply and demand. If only small quantities can be made at a time, it makes sense.

    The low alcohol content and the refreshing factor both make this type of wine sound very appealing. While I’m no connoisseur, I have been dabbling with wine a bit more lately. It’s very enjoyable to do so.

    I will have to find a moderately priced bottle and sample some.

  • dawnolsen May 31, 2015, 1:45 am

    This is my first knowledge of Ice Wine and so far I am very intrigued! I enjoy sweet wine more than any other type and this wine sounds delicious. The refreshing aspect and low alcohol content deem it appropriate for an after dinner treat in my household. If this particular wine tastes as good as described then I think the high price will be worth it. The process to make this wine is very interesting and I can understand the need to make it more expensive. I am excited to try this wine!

  • brittany88 October 5, 2015, 9:39 pm

    This is a very interesting post. I had never heard of Ice Wine before this and now I really want to try some. I’ve had regular Riesling before and loved it. It is actually my favorite wine but never ice wine Riesling. I bet it is . It seems so risky to make because if you wait to long you could lose the grapes and not be able to make everything. But if it taste as good as it says it must be well worth it.

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