What things do you know about ice wines? Ice wine is a commonly served dessert wine. Its characteristic sweetness makes it an ideal candidate for this purpose. Ice wines gained popularity in the 1980s even though it was first produced in the 18th century. It has an interesting history and also has equally interesting facts regarding it. Let us go through 20 things to know about ice wines. Also, be sure to check out “What is Ice Wine” after finishing up this article.
History of Ice Wine
The first ice wines in modern history was made in Franconia in Germany in 1794. During a harsh winter, which came earlier than expected, froze the grapes before it was harvested. It was observed that the frozen grapes were sweeter than the normal grapes and in an effort to salvage the grapes, frozen grapes were crushed to produce wine.
Canadian winegrowers call ice wine the nectar of Gods!
Ice Wine Production
Canada is currently the world’s largest producer of ice wine followed by Germany. Though ice wine was first produced in Germany, the humid and cold weather conditions in Canada was ideal for the production of ice wine and became the world leader in ice wine production. Canada produces 75% of the global ice wine produced.
Along with Canada and Germany, ice wine is produced by United States, Japan, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, France, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries produce relatively smaller quantities in comparison to the volumes produced by Canada and Germany.
Now you know ice wine is produced with much sweeter grapes, why don’t you also check out “The Most Popular Sweet Wines” to see sweeter options.
The first commercially produced ice wine was a Riesling made by Walter Hainle. It was produced in a vineyard in British Columbia, Canada in the late 1970s.
Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara on the Lake in Ontario is the world’s largest producer of ice wine. Pillitteri estates winery has been producing wine since 1948 and they started producing ice wine in the 1990s.
Most Popular Ice Wine
Most popular ice wine produced in the world was produced by Karl Kaiser. He was the co-owner of the Inniskillin winery in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario and produced ice wine in 1984. Today Inniskillin is one of the major brands of ice wines available in the world.
In 2007, Northern Ice Vidal Blanc icewine 2005 was awarded the Grand Gold medal by Monde Selection, the international Institute in Brussels, Belgium. This prestigious award is rarely conferred up on wine, especially from Canada. This also helped ice wine gain traction among wine enthusiasts.
In 1991, Inniskillin won the prestigious Grand Prix D’Honneur at VinExpo in Bordeaux, France. This was instrumental in the popularity of ice wine experiences today.
Do you know how long it takes to produce one bottle of wine? Check out “How Long Does it Take to Make Wine?“.
The trademark for “Icewine” as a single word is held by Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario. Icewine trademark is conferred on the wine, which meets the quality standards set by Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario.
In other countries, especially New Zealand, ice wine knock-offs are produced through a process called cryoextraction. In this process, the grapes are frozen with refrigeration to -7 degrees Celsius and are pressed while still frozen. The resultant wine resembles ice wine. The Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario does not give the trademarked “icewine” moniker to ice wines produced from refrigerated grapes.
Since Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario gives the trademark “icewine” subjecting them to rigorous standards, many vineyards do not pass them along with knock offs produced by cryoextraction. They try to work around that by labeling the wine produced as “iced wine”, “icebox wine” and “ice wine” (with space in between the words) to work around the strict rules of Vintner Quality Alliance Ontario and to deceive unsuspecting customers.
Ice Wine Grapes
The grapes for ice wine must be picked only after the temperature drops lower than –8 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit). The grapes have to be left on the vine until then.
As frozen grapes for ice wine has to be picked only after the temperature drops below –8 degrees Celsius, the vineyards wait and watch the weather conditions to decide whether to pick the grapes or not. Mostly the frozen grapes are picked on just one night and crushed simultaneously in the open air. For this, an army of workers is kept ready and they are called in when the temperatures are ideal for picking. It may take many days to get the ideal weather conditions to pick the frozen grapes.
Take a look at “Best Grapes for Making Wine” to see what other kinds of grapes are used when producing wine.
Grapes for the production of ice wine has to be picked at the right temperature because the grapes will have different characteristics if not picked at those temperatures. If the grapes are picked when it is warmer, the grapes will contain a lot of water and will generate sufficient sweetness for the resultant wine. If the grapes are picked when the weather is way colder, the grapes will become as hard as marbles and it will become very difficult to extract any juice from those grapes.
Most commonly used variety of grape used to produce ice wine is from Riesling. Other variants of grapes used are Vidal, Cabernet Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay Kerner, Chenin blanc and Pinot blanc. Vintners are experimenting with other varieties of grapes too.
Yield of Ice Wine
The yield of ice wine is significantly lower than the yield for table wines. If one ton of grapes can produce 720 liters of table wine, one ton of frozen grapes produce only 120 liters of ice wine. The yield of ice wine is roughly one-sixth the yield of table wine.
Have you asked yourself “How Many Ounces in a Bottle of Wine?” Click for a detailed look of what’s inside your bottle.
Ice wine is sold in pint sizes. While wine is generally sold in bottles containing a volume of 750 ml, ice wine is sold in bottles of volume 375 ml, which is a half bottle. The extremely low yield of ice wine makes it very costly. Hence half bottles are used to sell ice wines. There are even gift bottles available in sizes which contain a volume of 100 ml and 50 ml.
Also, make sure to read “What is Table Wine?” for a look at wines in general.
Prior to fermentation, there can’t be artificial refrigeration of grapes.
In general, the fermentation process for ice wine takes twice the time for fermentation process for table wine. This is because of the high sugar content present in the grape juice from frozen grapes. Special strains of yeast are also used for fermentation of ice wine.
The high prices of ice wine have also attracted knock offs in the market. Knock offs are majorly produced from China and New Zealand. The Chinese method is the worst. Chinese add extra sugar to table wine and try to pass them off as ice wine.
The residual sugar present in ice wine is between 180 g/L and 320 g/L. This is a very high concentration of sugar, even in comparison to other sweet wines. The characteristic taste of ice wine is due to the high acidity in them. Ice wine, invariably, has at least 10 g/L of titratable acidity. Check out “What Does Wine Taste Like?” or “How to Make Wine Taste Better” for a full guide on how to really know the different tastes of wines.
These are things to know about Ice Wine regarding the history, production, technical side and economics of it all. Ice wine is an extremely popular dessert wine and is also considered to be a wine to introduce a beginner in the wine world.
Thanks for reading! What other things to know about Ice Wine can you share with us? Have you tried ice wine? Let us know in the comments!
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