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We generally associate vineyards with sunnier climates like California, France, Australia, and Spain.
Did you know there are many successful vineyards in places with frigid winter temperatures? One of the delicious results of a frosty weather is ice wine (e.g., icewine or eiswein). The next time you see snow on the ground, get excited! A new ice wine may be in the making.
What is Ice Wine?
Ice wine is made from grapes that have frozen while still on the vine. While in a frozen state, only the water inside the grape freezes while the sugar and other solids remain liquid. The result is a concentrated juice, which is then pressed from the grapes. The small amount of fluid that is extracted is very sweet. Because grapes must be frozen while still on the vine and before they have begun to rot, ice wine production is limited to areas of the world with the appropriate climate, such as Canada and Germany. The timing of the harvest and conditions must be perfect, making ice wine expensive and rare.
What Grapes Are Used to Make Ice Wine?
Ice wine is made from Vidal Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling grapes. All of these grapes have adapted to their cold climates. Riesling and Vidal Blanc are most commonly used for ice wine.
What's the Difference Between Iced and Ice Wine?
When shopping for ice wine, it is important to read labels carefully to ensure you are purchasing genuine ice wine. If a label reads "iced wine" or "dessert wine," the grapes were frozen after being plucked. Real ice wine freezes naturally on the vine before it is harvested. Double-check the label or look up the winemaker before purchase to ensure you are investing in authentic ice wine.
What Should I Pair with Ice Wine?
Many delicious foods pair well with ice wine and range from savory to sweet. Ice wine has a robust and sweet flavor. If you choose to have a glass with cheese, select a pungent variety like gorgonzola or aged sharp cheddar. You can also pair ice wine with a spicy Mexican or Indian dish as the wine will act as a soothing agent between bites. Ice wine is also the perfect complement to desserts like cheesecake, banana pudding, chocolate, and crème Brulee.
How Do You Age Ice Wine?
Ice wine should be aged for a period between one to ten years. The taste of most ice wines improves over time as it becomes sweeter. Its color will grow richer along with its flavors. Like most wines, ice wine should be stored on its side at a consistent 55◦F in a cool, dark, and vibration-free wine cellar.