Mm so what is Ice wine? Sounds like a delicious and wicked thing to me. I had never heard of it before and so I did a little research. Here is what I found out. Another name it is known by is Eiswein and it came from a town in Germany called Franconia. It originated way back in 1794. What happens in this special type of wine is that the grapes are left on the grape vines until the first hard frost. They allow the thawing and freezing cycles to happen which brings a greater concentration of sugar and increases the flavor of the grape. Because of this the wine is very sweet and used as a dessert wine.
Over the years the process itself has been worked on and revised many times. Right now it is Canada that is the most widely respected makers of this most delicious and special wine. Ice wines also come from Austria and Germany. Canada is currently the most widely respected producer of ice wines.
There are rules to be followed when producing ice wine. Canada falls under the concern of the Vintners Quality Alliance. One of the most important of rules is that the wine must be naturally produced. This means that there is no artificial freezing or thawing allowed. This can be difficult as they are the last of the grapes on the vine, thus they must be guarded from extremes in temperatures, animals that will eat them and birds.
As a side note, there is a legend of the history of the discovery of ice wine. It seems that an owner of a vineyard in Germany was out and about in the countryside, and no we do not know what he was doing, being wicked perhaps? He should have been home tending to the vineyards and got home many weeks late and the grapes were frozen, but since this was their only crop he went ahead and processed the grapes anyway. He did not want to bruise or break the skins so he picked them by hand. They called it “winter wine” and were not released outside of Europe until 1962.
Just like in harvesting any vineyard it is up to the wine maker to choose the ideal time to pluck the grapes from the vine. The best range for ice wine grapes is to harvest when they are between -10C to -13C. The reason of course is to get the highest level of sugar and thus flavor from the grapes.
Some interesting facts about ice wine
- Grapes are picked by hand
- Grapes at this stage give a low yield
- One vine may make only one bottle of ice wine
- Ice Wine can be sold in half bottles
- It is an expensive wine
- Generally made from Riesling and Vidal grapes
- They ferment the wine for weeks
- They age the wine in barrels for months
- What does a glass of ice wine look and smell like?
Deep amber to golden in color
Smells sweet to nutty
The flavor is of mango, peach, apricot and other sweet melons
- Served in cordial glasses
- Served Iced…of course!
It is time to be a bit wicked and discover the incredible drinkable ice wine.
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