What is ice wine?
It is a wine made from grapes picked when they are frozen. In most cases, it is a white wine from grapes such as Riesling and Vidal. There are also red ice wine made from Cabernet Franc. Some areas even make ice wine with grape varieties such as Syrah, Merlot and Sangiovese!
Main production is in Canada, where it is called Ice Wine; Germany and Austria, where it is known under the term Eiswein: these are countries and regions where temperatures are cold enough to freeze the grapes quickly. Some French winemakers in Alsace also make ice wine, but their production is confidential and depends on the weather conditions.
Why is ice wine so difficult to produce?
The grapes have to be harvested frozen on the vine. This requires that the quality of the grapes has been preserved throughout the fall, until the first major gels. If the gels are not strong enough, the grapes can rot, and the harvest will be lost. The ideal temperature is between -7 ° C and -10 ° C.
The harvest frozen grapes is done by hand, so it is often necessary to harvest at night, when temperatures are lower and the grapes will risk no damage on the road between the vineyard and winery!
These factors also explain the high cost of these vintages: yields are extremely low, and the risk of losing the crop is high.
What flavor is ice wine?
White or red, this is a wine that is distinguished by its sugar content. The harvest is more than late: inside the grapes, fruit sugar is concentrated. Typically, an ice wine has a degree of sweetness around 220 grams of sugar per liter. By comparison, a Sauternes has between 100 and 150 grams of sugar per liter of wine.
The second feature is a rich aromatic palette, from fresh fruit (apples, citrus, apricot, grape, peach, pineapple …) with dried fruit, fruit jams (raisins, dried apricots, caramel, fig .. .). Obviously, aromas depend on the grape used.
The third feature is the acidity. This acidity of the grapes comes along with sugar: when the grapes loses water by frost, the concentration of sugar and acid increases proportionately.
How to serve ice wine?
This is an exceptional dessert wine, to be enjoyed cold, between 6 and 9 ° C, so as to make the most of its flavor and freshness, without increasing the palace by excess sugar. The wine can be served with fruity desserts recalling the aromas of the wine, or some cheese.
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