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Ice Wine and What Makes it So?


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I have been learning about wines lately and really getting into it, I must say, but I have bit of dumb question. What makes "ice wine" different from regular wine. I know it is sweeter and the grapes are frozen, but when in the process are they frozen?

Thanks!

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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I have been learning about wines lately and really getting into it, I must say, but I have  bit of dumb question. What makes "ice wine" different from regular wine. I know it is sweeter and the grapes are frozen, but when in the process are they frozen?

Thanks!

The ripe grapes are left on the vine until the weather gets so cold that the grapes are frozen. After about 3 days at the really low temperatures the grapes are picked and the juice pressed out from the still frozen grapes.

The water will freeze but the sugar rich juice will not, so only a small quantity of really sweet juice is extracted. This is fermented to make ice wine.

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By the time it's cold enough to frost, many of the grapes will have withered a bit in the sun as well. The freezing temps will evaporate much of what little water content remains, so when you finally squeeze these frosted bunches of what are now essentially raisins with a high sugar content, you extract very little very sweet juice. Hence the high price tag and generally smaller format bottles.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Bonny Doon calls their ice wine produced from commercially frozen grapes Vin de Glacière, a tongue in cheek reference to the French word for "freezer". :biggrin:

Certainly freezing large bunches of grapes makes for more quantities of ice wine available, but I'm just not sure they can reproduce the delicate set of conditions that produce true ice wine. I suppose someone could innoculate grapes with botrytis, but I don't think that would produce a true Sauternes either.

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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A very rare type of ice wine is produced near us in the Gaillac region of France.

It is called 'vin oblier' , the forgotten wine. The grapes are those left over after the normal harvest and then picked after the first freezing weather in the fall.

Like the more famous ice wine from Germany it is very expensive due to the high labor involved in picking the grapes and the small yield.

I'm told that its been made here since Roman times.

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I had this huge reply typed up then I wasn't logged in!! :)

I decided today to start looking for a good bottle of the stuff and discovered how hard it is to find! And indeed, the bottles are small! I didn't get any because I only ran across ONE brand out of three stores! I am going to keep looking, though. I went with a riesling for tonight, and ventured out into a pino noir (sp?) for later. If this was not so much fun I would think I was turning into a lush :) I never bought so much wine in my life! But I am having a good time.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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for it to be a true Ice wine the temp must be at or below 17.6 F by law in the US...you can't call a frozen grape cryo processing a true ice wine...

A true ice wine can give a little as a few drops called ITB "Nectar Of The gods" the sugar can be as high as 46 Brix or % it takes a long time to ferment...

this is one I do... http://www.silverspringswinery.com/giovanniwines.html

more info... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_wine

Edited by Don Giovanni (log)
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My learning was for German Wines that the categorisation went:

Spaetlese - late picked

Auslese - very late picked, more a dessert wine

Beeren Auslese - very very late picked

Eiswein (Ice Wine) - Damn where is our Beeren Auslese? Just go out and pick those grapes, I don't care about the ice, I hope you get some juice from them.

Trocken Beeren Auslese - what do you mean, you infected some of the grapes, isn't the cold enough for them?

We in Australia don't have the cold that you have in the upper Northern hemisphere so we tend to use botrytis for our dessert wines.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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My learning was for German Wines that the categorisation went:

Spaetlese - late picked

Auslese - very late picked, more a dessert wine

Beeren Auslese - very very late picked

Eiswein (Ice Wine) - Damn where is our Beeren Auslese? Just go out and pick those grapes, I don't care about the ice, I hope you get some juice from them.

Trocken Beeren Auslese - what do you mean, you infected some of the grapes, isn't the cold enough for them?

We in Australia don't have the cold that you have in the upper Northern hemisphere so we tend to use botrytis for our dessert wines.

I've always understood that TBA and Eiswein are sort of semi-overlapping categories...you don't always even get them in the same year, but TBA is an unfrozen grape that has a certain potential alcohol from the sugar content, and has begun to raisinate on the vine...the word trockenbeerenauslese literally means "select harvest of dried berries". No ice involved though, but botrytis often is.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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My learning was for German Wines that the categorisation went:

Spaetlese - late picked

Auslese - very late picked, more a dessert wine

Beeren Auslese - very very late picked

Eiswein (Ice Wine) - Damn where is our Beeren Auslese? Just go out and pick those grapes, I don't care about the ice, I hope you get some juice from them.

Trocken Beeren Auslese - what do you mean, you infected some of the grapes, isn't the cold enough for them?

We in Australia don't have the cold that you have in the upper Northern hemisphere so we tend to use botrytis for our dessert wines.

I've always understood that TBA and Eiswein are sort of semi-overlapping categories...you don't always even get them in the same year, but TBA is an unfrozen grape that has a certain potential alcohol from the sugar content, and has begun to raisinate on the vine...the word trockenbeerenauslese literally means "select harvest of dried berries". No ice involved though, but botrytis often is.

The early 70s saw legislation in Germany for categorisations of wines based on their natural sugar content. The top-tier German wine categorisation "Qualitätswein mit Prädikat" defines the higher sugar classes of wines as being from German-grown grapes with specific ranges of natural sugar by weight. They cannot have sugar added to them during production.

A rough guideline for the minimum Oechsle values for the wines according to the categorisations are:

Spaetlese: min 85 degrees

Auslese: min 95 degrees

Beerenauslese and Eiswein: min 125 degrees

Trockenbeerenauslese: min 150 degrees.

(Before people reply, these guidelines differ from those given on many English-based web sites and were instead sourced from German-based web sites).

You can see that Eiswein is made from grapes with the same sugar concentration as beerenauslese grapes. Eiswein is unique in that the grapes are picked frozen at temperatures less than -7 degrees Celsius. Eiswein is thus more appropriately a category partner to beerenauslese rather than to trockenbeerenauslese.

The Trockenbeerenauslese is categorised by the natural sugar content of the grapes. The minimum is 150 Oechsle (around 35% sugar by weight). They are normally botyrised, as you point out, but also are left on the vines until nearly dry; hence the extremely low yield. By definition if they are left on the vine that long, they are subject to cooler climactic conditions but do not involve the deliberate harvesting of frozen grapes.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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  • 2 weeks later...

I plan on taking a drive down to Texas to go wine shopping and plan on looking for ice wine. Can anyone recommend a good bottle? (or do you call it brand? or label?)

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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  • 9 months later...

What is a good pairing for food when drinking ice wines?

I would do a cheese, or possibly some fruit. I have some foie sitting in my fridge right now, as a buddy swears by a certain Canadian icewine paired with seared foie. I guess we will see tomorrow.

-K

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I plan on taking a drive down to Texas to go wine shopping and plan on looking for ice wine. Can anyone recommend a good bottle? (or do you call it brand? or label?)

Inniskillin is probably the mostly widely available icewine that is of a decent quality. They make quite a few different types of icewine that range in quality from quite good to sublime.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That post was written a while back, but I have another trip in store for me now and I hope to buy more ice wine, I will keep your suggestion in mind. :wub:

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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  • 2 months later...
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