Ever heard of Ice Wine and wondered what it might be? Aptly named, Ice Wine (or Eiswein) grapes are harvested in the middle of winter when they are completely frozen, usually around 20 °F. Harvest for this type of wine usually takes place in the middle of the night when the grapes are covered in snow. They are then immediately brought to the winery to be pressed and turned into wine. The fermentation process usually lasts around 3-6 months. Because the water in the grapes freezes, and the sugar does not, this creates a wine that is very sweet and high in sugar content. Ice Wine was originally made in Germany and Austria but is now being made in other cold climate regions like Canada and China. The main grapes used to make Ice Wine are Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The grapes need to have a high level of acidity so the final product is fresh and not sticky. Most Ice Wines are made with a white varietal but there are a few that are made with red.
Ice Wine typically has notes of honey and citrus. It is most common as a dessert wine and can be paired with soft cheeses, like goat cheese or brie, or vanilla desserts.
Because of the harsh and strenuous conditions that it takes to make this wine, it is priced a little higher than most wines. A 375 milliliter bottle is usually around $70…but smaller, less expansive bottles are also often available. You can typically find Ice Wine at a local wine shop or specialty liquor store. Prost!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Would you like to win a bottle of Ice Wine from the Buzz? If so, leave a comment on this story on one of our three social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a free bottle! (Must be age 21 or older.)
Cassidy Rose Gyetvan is an actress, casting director and sommelier based in Los Angeles. She has worked at numerous wine shops and restaurants around LA and her taste focuses on natural and unique wines.