What is Ice Wine? We get asked that quite often here at Elma Wine and Liquor. Quite simply, ice wine is wine made from frozen grapes. Hence the name Ice Wine.
Harvesting Ice Wine Grapes
Grapes are left on the vines long past the typical harvest season until they freeze. At that point, the wineries will go out and harvest them while they’re frozen on the vines. The grapes are pressed immediately while still frozen.
When the grapes freeze what is freezing is the excess water. The solids and the sugars are getting pressed out into the juice are more highly concentrated than they would be for regular grapes. When this happens the resulting base is at a much higher sugar content than typical wine juice.
The concept behind the ice wine is just that. To make use of those frozen grapes and to get those highly concentrated sugars and flavors into the wine.
The resulting wine is then bottled in smaller than usual bottles because of the richness and sweetness of the wine.
Ice Wines from New York & Canada
In Western New York we are lucky to have some of the best ice wines in the world produced here. We have the Standing Stones Vineyards in the Finger Lakes. Their Ice Riesling received scores in the 90’s for the 2014 vintage. That’s from Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator; 92 points and 91 points respectively. There are plenty of other wineries in the Finger Lakes that are making some great ice wines as well.
Also, just across the border, in Canada, Niagara-on-the-Lake region we have some great wineries up there making ice wines. One in particular is from the Konzelmann Estates – an Ice Cabernet Sauvignon. When people see this bottle on our shelf, they’re often a little taken aback, because if you know anything about wine, you know that Cabernets are typically a dryer red full bodied wine. So the fact that they’re made into a sweet ice wine, surprises some people. But again, because the grapes are frozen, and the sugar content is much higher when the grapes are pressed, it starts with a much higher base of sweetness.
That’s it for “What is Ice Wine”, thank you very much for watching and reading. We look forward to reading your comments below.
If you are interested in the Standing Stone Ice Riesling, you can find it here.