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

What's ice wine?

Rather than cursing the first frosts and the arrival of the cold, we invite you to consider the cold as a blessing! Indeed, without winter, no frost, no ice wine! Also called "Icewine" in Canada or "Einswein" in Germany, ice wine is a surprising product from an equally surprising history! It is therefore during this festive season that the bunches invite you to discover this original and tasty wine... enough to make your mouth water on New Year's Eve!

The origin of ice wine

Ice wine is, as its name suggests, related to winter frosts. At the end of the 18th century, a cold spell, causing early frosts, surprised Austrian and German winegrowers: their ripe grapes were frozen. They had to press these red or white grapes, and the result was ice wine. It is therefore an unexpected discovery, ice wine came into being by chance, thanks to the surprises of the seasons.

Winter wine

The temperatures guide the harvest for the ice wine. The temperature must be between -6°C and -12°C for the grapes to be picked, since the sweet juice of the grapes only freezes at -7°C. In Canada the harvest is done from -10°C. The maximum temperature is -12°C otherwise the grapes are too frozen! This is a late harvest, which means that the grapes are very ripe. This wine is therefore produced mainly in very cool, frosty vineyards, such as in Germany and Canada, but also in Austria and Alsace. The most recognized grape varieties are mainly white: they are Riesling, Gewurztraminer; but there are also red varieties such as Merlot.

A delicious result

This wine is therefore made from ripe grapes, picked frozen. They are also pressed while still frozen and then fermented. It is the natural concentration of sugar in the grapes that makes the originality of this wine: given the high sugar content of these grapes, the wine is sweet.To this very sweet taste is added the acidity: indeed the juice is already sweet because the grapes are very ripe when they are picked. Then the sugar concentration increases as the grapes thaw, so the acidity increases at the same time. This wine is traditionally served in a tasting glass at a temperature of 6°C. It can be served as an aperitif, with dessert, but also and above all with cheese.

A precious product

As the harvest is late, the losses in grapes are more important for the ice wine. The over-ripeness of the grapes causes more losses, which makes them more valuable. In addition, the cost of harvesting increases considerably due to the very cold climate specific to the harvesting of grapes for ice wine. It is then understandable why few vineyards try the experience of ice wine! It is a rather rare and precious product. White ice wine is considered one of the greatest white wines in the world, and its price reflects its value. Indeed, ice wine is still not very accessible because of its price. This surprising and tasty wine can thus be added to your Christmas wish list and could even become a Christmas gift!

Marie Lecrosnier-Wittkowsky (for Les Grappes)

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