Tag Archives: Ice Wine

Weekly Wine Defined – Ice Wine

There is one good thing about this frigid weather we’re experiencing, the conditions are right for ice wines. These wines are a type of late-harvest wine that are made from grapes left on the vine far beyond the typical harvesting season. These grapes actually freeze before they are picked.
Because the water in the grapes freezes and when pressed, the water crystals remain in the press. The results are highly concentrated flavors, rich colors and increased sugars. Ice wines almost always come in small (375 ml.) bottles and the price tag reflects the rarity of such wines.


Weekly wine defined: Ice Wine

Sticking with last week’s wine definition theme of dessert wine, this week we’re defining: Ice wine.

Ice wine is a dessert wine that is made from grapes that were frozen while still on the vine. The freeze sucks the moisture from the fruit, but leaves the sugars and other dissolved solids.

When these grapes are pressed, they release significantly less juice than a grape harvested before the freeze. As a result, the small amount of juice produced has a concentrated, sweet flavor — even sweeter than some dessert wines.

A good ice wine should offer a balance between this high level of sweetness and acidity, which means the wine won’t appear overly sweet when you drink it.

Last week we defined botrytis and its noble rot, which is used to produce dessert wines. Unlike these wines, ice wine is not affected by noble rot because healthy grapes are needed to stand up to the freeze.

Ice wines freeze on the vine before they’re harvested and fermented. In most cases grapes slated for ice wine will stay on the vine well after the rest of the vineyard is striped bare, waiting for the big freeze. In some cases it might not come until after the start of the New Year.

Because the moisture is sucked from the grapes, it takes a lot more of the fruit to produce the wine and even so the quantities produced are significantly less than other varietals. It’s also a risky process that requires hands on labor and a lot of faith in Mother Nature to produce the perfect freeze. As a result, ice wines are usually quite expensive.

Our neighbors up in Canada are one of the largest producers of ice wine, along with Germany.