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Eiswein (Ice Wine)

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Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards. In Austria the grapes must freeze naturally to be called ice wine, no mechanical freezing should be used. Only healthy grapes keep in good shape until the opportunity arises for an ice wine harvest, which in extreme cases can occur after the New Year, on a northern hemisphere calendar. This gives ice wine its characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity. When the grapes are free of Botrytis, they are said to come in "clean".

Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive.

Characteristics


Even though it is normal for residual sugar content in ice wine to run from 180 g/L up to as high as 320 g/L (with a mean in the 220 g/L range), ice wine is very refreshing (as opposed to cloying) due to high acidity. Ice wine usually has a medium to full body, with a long lingering finish. The nose is usually reminiscent of peach, pear, dried apricot, honey, citrus, figs, caramel, green apple, etc., depending on the varietal. The aroma of tropical and exotic fruits such as pineapple, mango, or lychee is quite common, especially on white varietals.

Ice wine usually has a slightly lower alcohol content than regular table wine. Some Riesling ice wines from Germany have an alcohol content as low as 6%. Ice wines produced in Canada usually have higher alcohol content, between eight and 13 percent.

Connoisseurs argue about whether ice wine improves with age or is meant to be drunk young. Those who support aging claim that ice wine's very high sugar level (which is often much higher than that of Sauternes) and high acidity preserve the content for many years after bottling. Those who disagree contend that as ice wine ages it loses its distinctive acidity, fruitiness, aroma, and freshness.

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References

Ice wine, wikipedia.org

Ice Wine Information, wineintro.com

Ice Wine (aka: Eiswein, Icewein, Icewine, Eiswine), www.winemonger.com