Most of the wines are prepared from grapes, but the way they are prepared makes the difference in the flavor and taste. Ice wine also known as Eiswein in German is a very intense and ultra-rich wine mostly served as super sweet dessert after a heavy meal. Ice wine is extracted from grapes that are made to freeze while they are still on the grapevine. These naturally frozen grapes are plucked selectively on the basis of their level of ripening to produce ice wine. Ice wine is a more traditional accompaniment in Germany and Austria. As of today, Canada (British Columbia) and Germany leads in the production of this exquisitely rich Ice wine. However, more than 75 percent of this wine production comes from Ontario and Niagara peninsula. Other Ice wine producing countries include Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Slovakia, United States and Sweden. The production of this wine requires lot of expertise and labor; the production is comparatively very small. That is one of the reasons this wine is very expensive. The average level of alcohol is in between 7 to 12 percent which is quite low. Generally, German Eiseweins have low alcohol content than Canadian Ice wines.
The major difference between other varieties of wines (Sauternes, Trockenbeerenauslese, or Tokaji) and Ice wine is that while in other types of wines the freezing is allowed after fermentation, in case of Ice wine, freezing is carried out before fermentation and never afterwards. It is necessary that the grapes used for making Ice wine should not be affected by noble rot or Botrytis cinerea. Grapes that are healthy and in good shape are only used for making wine and are harvested around New Year in the Northern regions. The grapes free of any Botrytis are known to be ‘clean’. During the process of freezing, its only the water content in the grapes that gets frozen whereas the sugars and other solid components remain in their natural state. Hence when the grapes are pressed for wine, concentrated sweet wine is produced. Since the water content is not a part of this pressed wine, the production is very small.
Some of the interesting facts related to history of Ice wine are:
The grapes such as Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer that have higher acidity levels are chosen for preparing Ice wine because the high acidic level reduces the sticky or overly heavy taste and makes the wine more refreshing. The types of grapes used for making wine, decides the varying taste of Ice wine. Over the years the wine makers have been experimenting with different types of grapes to add different twist and flavor to the Ice wine. The basic medium of preparing Ice wine is full bodied. Stone fruits, apricot and peach are the common fruits added to make the wine more aromatic and taste different. White grape varieties are also used for adding an interesting twist to the flavor. The honey like bright Ice wine is made from exotic tropical stone fruits; the red wines are flavored by adding candied red fruit, spices and strawberries. The overall production of Ice wine is around 10 to 12 percent. A true Ice wine costs around $50 to 100 for each 375 ml bottle.
The most famous Ice wine producer is Inniskillin, the leading Ice wine producing company from Canada. Inniskillin is renowned for producing high quality Ice wines. Some of the other companies include: