Ice wine is a wine speciality that is very popular in regions where winter temperatures are extreme. It can be found in Canada and Germany. It is a soft, sweet and aromatic wine produced from frozen grapes.
The origins of ice wine
The origins of ice wine go back to the XVIIIth century in Austria and Germany. At that time, these two countries were hit by an early frost of exceptional violence. Following this event, the winegrowers were forced to harvest the frozen grapes. Against all odds, they were not unhappy with the result: ice wine was born. A few years later, ice wine became a product in its own right: the birth of “Eiswein”.
In Canada, today the world leader in the production of ice wine, it was not until the end of the 19th century that the first production took place in British Columbia. In addition, since 2001, the European Union has recognized the equivalence of production methods between Canada and the countries of the Union, and in 2004 an agreement was signed, paving the way for significant economic exchanges.
The process of making ice wine
The process of making ice wine is quite unique. The grapes are harvested when they are frozen on the vine, usually in December or January. This late harvest allows the grapes to concentrate in sugar and aroma, as they have spent more time on the vine to ripen. The grapes are then pressed while they are still frozen. This allows us to recover only the sweetest and most concentrated juice.
Ice wine can be made from a variety of grape varieties, such as Riesling, Vidal or Cabernet Franc. However, Riesling is the most commonly used grape variety because of its ability to withstand the cold well and produce a sweet, fruity wine.
The fermentation process of ice wine is slower than for other wines. Due to the high concentration of sugar, it is difficult for the yeasts to ferment the must. The fermentation can therefore take several months, even years, to complete.
The end result is a rich, sweet wine with aromas of tropical fruit, honey and citrus. Icewine is also very acidic, which balances the sugar and makes it fresher on the palate. It is usually drunk at a temperature of 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. It can be served as an aperitif or as a dessert with strong cheeses, fruits or cream-based desserts.
Ice wine is considered a luxury product due to its rarity and expensive production process. Yields are very low because only frozen grapes are used, and production is labor intensive for picking and pressing the grapes. In conclusion, ice wine is a unique and delicious wine that can be enjoyed on any occasion. It is a rare wine specialty that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed by all wine lovers.