Just another dessert wine? Nope. Ice wine is special and deserves the hype it receives. A true ice wine is made from healthy grapes that are left to freeze on the vine into the winter months. When freezing temperatures get around 20 degrees, the water in the grape pulp turns to ice. The grapes are picked and pressed frozen, releasing juice with a higher sugar concentration, creating a wine with a luscious flavor profile plus bright acidity.
Considered a sweet, late harvest wine, ice wine comes from grapes that thrive in cool climates. Some of the most popular varieties used include Riesling, Vidal, Cabernet Franc and Gewurztraminer. Canada, Germany, Austria and the US (New York) are best known for making this unique wine and are not allowed to label it as “ice wine” if the grapes are commercially frozen.
Ice wine bursts with fruit and floral flavors, including pineapple, honeysuckle and apricot to name a few. As a sweet wine that is medium to full-bodied, it pairs well with plenty of desserts. Popular choices include cheesecake, vanilla pound cake, ice cream and fruit desserts. If you are a cheese lover, pair this with a softer cheese like Brie or a mild goat cheese. Best served lightly chilled in a dessert wine or tumbler glass.
Due to low yields and a lot of labor that goes into these wines, they are typically sold in half-size bottles and have a higher price point than an average table wine. There are some years where producers won’t make an ice wine if the winter weather isn’t ideal conditions. They can also be a little harder to find, look for options at your local wine shop, directly from a winery or search online and see what comes up.
Have I piqued your interest to try an ice wine? This is the perfect time of year to explore something new. Take an ice wine to your next dinner party to share with dessert and see where the conversation goes. Stay chill and drink on my friends, cheers!