Ice wine is a special dessert wine made from grapes that were left on the vine to freeze. Frozen grapes have less juice and much more concentrated sugars than regularly harvested grapes. In fact, it takes 4-5 times the amount of grapes to produce this special wine. These wines are bottled in 375ml sized bottles instead of the traditional 750ml because of the fact there is less juice to ferment. The grapes must freeze naturally on the vine at around 20 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be called Ice Wine. Some wineries that don’t have the ability let their grapes freeze on the vine, harvest their grapes, then freeze them, and in these instances, they must call their wine, Iced Wine. Harvesting grapes in these temperatures and getting very little juice to work with drives the price up for this type of wine. A good Ice Wine can cost $40+ for a 375ml bottle.
Germany and Austria are countries known for their Ice Wines and the grapes grow on steep terrain making it very difficult to harvest when the mountains are sheets of ice! The provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada produce high quality Ice Wines and in the US, the states producing high quality Ice Wines are New York, Ohio, Vermont, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Ice Wines can be made from many varietals such as Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.
Pick up a bottle the next time you go wine shopping and savor the hard work that went into making that bottle of wine!