What is Ice Wine

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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If you’ve never been offered a chilled glass of ice wine, you’ve been missing out on a unique and sweet alcoholic treat.

What is Ice Wine?

Quite simply, ice wine is an alcoholic beverage made from frozen grapes. When it comes to flavor, it is high in sugar and has a very sweet taste, which is balanced by the high acidity. This wine can have a higher sugar percentage than some sodas and is primarily enjoyed as a dessert wine, as it does not pair particularly well with savory dishes.

Bottles of ice wine stacked at a store

Ice wines are expensive because they are made from naturally frozen grapes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Regulations state that to be called ‘Ice Wine’, the beverage must be made from grapes that froze on the vine naturally. True ice wine, therefore, only comes from regions with a cold climate. Most of this wine in the world comes from Germany or Ontario, Canada. There are producers in the US, as well as Japan, Austria, France, and several other European countries, but it isn’t nearly as popular or widespread as traditional grape-growing.

Most German ‘Eiswein’ is made from their prized native Riesling grapes, whereas Canadians favor the Vidal Blanc varietal. Cabernet Franc grapes result in a red Icewine, and modern producers are using everything from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon. This market used to be quite narrow, but it has blossomed in recent years as its popularity has grown. Most varieties of this wine have an ABV of around 10%, although they can range from 6-13%.

How to Drink Ice Wine?

There are many different ways to drink ice wine, let us take a look at them.

  • Chill, don’t freeze, to 50-54 degrees Fahrenheit to enjoy the natural aromas.
  • Pour 1.5-2 oz into a standard white wine glass. Remember, a little of this sweet wine goes a long way.
  • Enjoy with cheese, fruit, scones, or other less sweet desserts.

How to Make Ice Wine?

Let us take a look at how to make ice wine.

Close up of ice wine in a wine glass held outdoors

Chilly Ice Wine

Ice wine is one of the hardest wines to make. But its sweet taste is perfect as a dessert wine. 
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Course: Alcoholic drink
Cuisine: German
Keyword: Ice Wine
Author: Paromita Datta

Instructions

  • A strong press is needed to crush rock-hard frozen grapes.
  • The pressed frozen juice is collected, and yeast is added.
  • The fermentation process will take several weeks.
  • Once it has reached optimal alcohol and sugar content, it can be bottled and enjoyed.

Adverse Risks Associated with Alcohol Consumption: Moderation is key. The risks involved with drinking excessive alcohol can be short term such as violence and injuries to long-term health risks such as chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who should not drink alcohol include women who are pregnant, individuals younger than 21 years of age, and people who are recovering from alcoholism or cannot control the amount they drink. Also, it should be avoided by people who are planning to drive or any other activity that required focus and skill. However, different countries have different rules on alcohol purchase and consumption.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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