Ice Wine: the story

Most of us have heard of it, but we never truly understood what it was exactely. The mystical Ice Wine.

There is a lot of debate about the origin of Ice Wine. Some claim it was first created in France in the 18th century, and some claim it appeared in the 19th century in Germany. Regardless of the country or the time period, Ice Wine has been one of the most loved wines in the world. Its intense concentration and the interesting concept has people all around the globe in admiration.

How is it made?

Grapes in the snow

The process of making Ice Wine is a daunting, yet, extremely intriguing one. There’s a huge risk in creating Ice Wine which can leave winemakers with the possibility of potentially losing everything. How is it made? The grapes are left on the vines until the temperature drops below freezing and creates frost on the grapes. A day or two after, the rock-hard grapes are picked and pressed. However, after the berries are ripe, the rotting susceptibility is huge, and it could potentially not happen in time.

Once the grapes are harvested, all the water inside the berries is frozen, and all that is left, is the sweet, sugary syrup inside. And that is what is extracted once the grapes are pressed. Although the quantity of the liquid extracted is minimal, it is concentrated, golden and delicious.

When it comes to the actual varietals involved in this process, only grapes that have a firm skin can withstand this torment. This is why only certain grapes can be used – namely Gewurtztraminer, Merlot, Chenin blanc, Riesling and Vidal Blanc.

Considering the wine needs frost on the actual vines to occur for Ice Wine to be produced, only countries like Germany, France, Austria, USA, and Canada can produce these wines. There are, however, many wine producers that work around these steps and produce imitated Ice Wine. Instead of allowing frost to occur on the vines, these producers harvest these grapes and then set in artificial frost. It is important to note that this is not the correct method and the resulting wine will not compare to the real product.

The flavour of Ice Wine

Ice Wine

Ice Wine is notably sweet, and the sugar content makes it a great wine to age. Many people consider this wine a great investment since some wines age well for decades and improve greatly with this aging.

The common flavours of this wine range from rich, bright tropical fruit, to more concentrated peach, melon and apricot flavours. The underlying flavour, however, that tends to follow through with most Icewines, is the intense honey flavour.

Food pairing

Ice Wine is not just a great wine to pair with desserts. But is also an amazing wine to use inside or on top of an actual dessert. Opt to pair any cheese, fruit or dark chocolate based desserts which will not match its sweetness. It is also great for pouring over any sponge cake or even over ice-cream.

Whether the idea is to consume it immediately or to keep it for years, Ice wine is something worth trying. And it’s definitely a wine that will have you indulged.

French version vailable here.

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