Oenologie - Qu'est ce que le vin de glace? - Les Grappes

What is ice wine?

Rather than cursing the first frosts and the arrival of the cold, we invite you to consider the cold as a blessing! Because without winter, there's no frost. And without frost, there's no icewine!

Also known as " Icewine " in Canada or " Eiswein " in Germany, ice wine is a surprising product with an equally singular history!

Icewine is produced by only a handful of estates and winemakers, which makes it all the more precious.

In this festive season, Les Grappes invites you to discover this original and tasty wine... It'll make your mouth water for your New Year's Eve meals!

Why is ice wine called that?

As its name suggests, ice wine is associated with the cold and frosts of winter. But the start of its production was an accident!

At the end of the 18th century, a wave of cold weather, causing early frosts, took winegrowers in Austria and Germany by surprise: their ripe grapes were icy. Despite this, they decided to go ahead with the harvest and press the red and white grapes. The result was conclusive: ice wine was born. An unexpected discovery! Icewine came into being by chance, thanks to the surprises of the seasons.

Produced from frozen bunches of harvested grapes, Icewine or Eiswein offers a very specific aromatic profile. Indeed, these grapes are often highly concentrated in residual sugar, yet they have the particularity of offering a nice acidity to counterbalance it all.

How is ice wine made?

The harvest

Cold temperatures guide the harvest for icewine. The ideal temperature for harvesting the precious grapes is between -7°C and -12°C. In Canada, harvesting starts at -10°C. At these temperatures, the sweet juice contained in the berries freezes. On the other hand, if temperatures fall below -12°C, the juice is too frozen, preventing the production of ice wine. The grape harvest generally takes place between December and February, often at night! This is a late harvest, which means that the grapes are very ripe.

The winemaking process

No sooner picked than pressed! The ripe grapes are pressed while still frozen, then fermented. It's the natural concentration of sugar in the grapes that makes this wine so original. wine is syrupy.

Acidity is added to this very sweet taste: in fact, the juice is already sweet, since the grapes are very ripe when they are picked. The concentration of sugar increases as the grapes thaw and lose water. Acidity increases at the same time. Most icewines are made from white grapes, but there are also red icewines made from grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and icewines made from cider.

Production areas

Given the harvesting conditions, this wine cannot be made every year, or on every continent! Icewine is mainly produced by winemakers in Canada, notably in the Niagara Falls, Ontario and Quebec regions. The land of the maple leaf is the world's largest producer of Icewine. Located in Eastern Canada, Ontario has become the most awarded and prestigious production area. The Canadian climate is ideal for the production of this golden nectar.

Eiswein, or ice wine, is also made in the vineyards ofGermany andAustria, and more surprisingly, ice wine can also be produced in France, although it's a little more complicated than that.

In France, winemakers practice the same harvesting method, notably in theAlsace region, but the appellation vin de glace is not recognized. These confidential cuvées are made from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner or Pinot gris grapes.

How to drink an ice wine?

To enjoy the full potential of an ice wine, we recommend serving it well chilled, at around 6°C to 8°C, so that it reveals its full potential.

Icewine is often associated with dessert, but it's perfect as an aperitif, with a nice cheese platter, especially hard cheeses, or even a fruit-based dessert . With its lovely acidity, it's a perfect accompaniment to your main courses.

In the same way as a sweet winesuch as Sauternes, icewine goes perfectly with foie gras or apple pie. It also goes perfectly with Asian cuisine.

Its lovely acidity makes for a host of divinely delicious food and wine pairings. For gourmets, you might even surprise your taste buds with an ice wine!

Which wine to serve with ice cream?

If, for dessert, you're planning to serve a scoop of vanilla ice cream with your tarte tatin, ice wine will go perfectly with both! Ice cream is sweet, so it's important to choose a wine that will face it. Ideally, choose a sweet wine with good acidity. What could be better than an ice wine?

Tasting an ice wine

Sub-zero temperatures concentrate the sugar and minerals inside the berries. Once pressed, these frozen bunches of grapes produce rich , complex juices with just the right balance of acidity and sweetness.

This liqueur-like wine has a beautiful golden color, with notes of tropical fruit, honey,apricot and peach on the palate. We might expect a certain heaviness due to its sugar content, but this is not the case. Surprising as it may seem, this golden nectar leaves a long, fresh and lively finish, made possible by its acidity, that will awaken your taste buds. Icewine is a silky-smooth wine, with an acidity that balances all the aromas and brings freshness to every sip.

The amount of residual sugar in icewine ensures that it can be kept for many years. Over time, its notes evolve towards honey and caramel aromas.

A precious product

Given the late harvest, grape losses are greater for icewine. The over-ripeness of the grapes leads to greater losses, making them more precious. What's more, the cost of harvesting the grapes increases considerably, given the extreme cold climate and the labor required to harvest grapes for ice wine. It's easy to see why so few wineries try ice wine!

It's a rare and precious product , produced using a unique harvesting method. White icewine is considered one of the finest white wines in the world, and its price reflects its value. Indeed, the price of icewine makes it difficult to access. The price of Eiswein wines sometimes exceeds that of Canadian icewines.

This surprisingly tasty wine could be added to your Christmas wish list, or even become a Christmas gift!

Choose wines from winemakers

At Les Grappeswe've put together a selection of our best winemaking nuggets for the festive season! Whatever the region, it's up to you to choose the sweet white wine that will delight your taste buds...

Find all our sweet wines on Les Grappes

Easily order the right bottles directly from the harvesting winegrowers!

10€ offered from 60€ purchase with the code: BONPLATBONVIN

You might like...