Posted by: Hailey | February 11, 2010

Ice Wine!

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing amore concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards.

Unlike the grapes from which other dessert wines, such as Sauternes, Tokaji, or Trockenbeerenauslese, are made, ice wine grapes should not be affected by Botrytis cinerea or noble rot, at least not to any great degree. Only healthy grapes keep in good shape until the opportunity arises for an ice wine harvest, which in extreme cases can occur after the New Year, on a northern hemisphere calendar. This gives ice wine its characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.When the grapes are free of Botrytis, they are said to come in “clean”.

Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive, but also some of the best wines in the world.Germany, in particular, produces some of the best eiswein.

Depending on the country and region, the varietals used to make ice wine differ. In Germany, riesling is the most commonly used varietal to produce eiswein. In Canada, though, vidal is most commonly used. Some new world producers are experimenting with other varietals including Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Ehrenfelser; or reds such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.

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