Ice Wine

Synonyms: Icewine, Eiswein

Wine Name: Ice Wine, Icewine, Eiswein, Vin de Glace, Vin de Glacière, Vin Glace

Background: Ice wine is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine and usually harvested in January in the northern hemisphere. The water in the grapes freezes leaving behind the sugars and solids with a resulting sweet syrup with high sugar content. Because of the high sugar content which lowers the freezing point of the grapes, temperatures of 17 deg F (-8 deg C) must be reached to freeze the grapes enough for extraction. Some countries allow cryo extraction, i.e., an artificial freezing but the leading ice wine producers in Canada and Germany require freezing naturally on the vine. The crushed grapes are then fermented (which takes months due to the high sugar content) although not to completion since wine yeasts die off after about 15% alcohol is reached. The grapes are not afflicted with botrytis mold (noble rot) that dehydreates the grapes as is the case for Sauternes from France, Tokaji from Hungary or Trockenbeerenauslese from Germany.

Almost any grapes can and have been used to produce ice wine but the most common ones are Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Franc. Other grapes that are sometimes used include Pinot Gris, Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz), Semillion, and Sangiovese.

Classic Brands and Sources: Canada – Inniskillin, Reif Estates, Pillitteri Estates, Peller Estates, Pelee Island Winery, Tinhorn Creek Estates, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Ziraldo Estate; USA – Cave Spring, Konzlemann, Bonny Doon, King Estates, Gordon Brothers, Poet’s Leap, Mission Hill; Austria – Andau; Germany – Selbach-Oster, Hans Wirsching, Dr Loosen, H. Dönnhoff, Grans-Fassian, Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Joh. Jos. Prüm, Johannishof, C. von Schubert, Robert Weil;


Style #1 – Typical from white grapes

Body – full

Acidity – high but perceived medium

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – low to medium (-)

Style #2 – Typical from red grapes

Body – full

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – medium to medium (+)

Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Ice Wines are often best on their own without food. If taken with food, white dessert wines do best with desserts without milk or dark chocolate that are less sweet than the ice wine. Red dessert wines do better with chocolate or nut based desserts. “Ice Wine as dessert is better than dessert.”

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
White wine based ice wine – pairs with apple pie or fritters, oysters, paté, peaches, pears, strawberries, French toast, flan, Creme Brulee, cheese cake.
Red wine based ice wine – would go with chocolate mousse, nuts such as almonds, hazlenuts, walnuts and pecans, baked strawberry, rhubarb, and cheese based desserts.

Cheese Pairings:
Blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola, hard cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano, aged Chevre