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Wine Advice: Frozen Wonders – Ice Wine

It’s cold outside. almost cold enough for grape harvest – harvest time for grapes used in the production of Ice Wine. That time of year when frozen grapes are hand-harvested by pickers, dressed in heavy winter clothing, picking quickly through the night.

Canada is the world’s largest producer of Ice Wine. Our reliably cool temperatures guarantee the conditions required for grapes to freeze.

Ice Wine production may date to Roman times. The Germans have produced Ice Wine (Eiswein in Germany) since 1794. Quite possibly by mistake. Since then, Ice Wine was not produced annually in Germany, rather, its production was dependent on the vintage, often as a result of inclement weather. annual production began in 1961 when better equipment became available. The Germans continue to produce Ice Wine but due to global warming production is increasingly rare in some areas.

Canadian production began in 1972 when the first Ice Wine was made in the Okanagan Valley. The Inniskillin Winery of Ontario has made Ice Wine since 1983 and in 1991 the winery entered the 1987 vintage Ice Wine in the famous Vinexpo wine competition in Bordeaux, winning the award, earning Ice Wine, and Canada, a place on the world wine stage.

Wine Advice Frozen Wonders: Ice Wine There are regulations that must be fulfilled in order for wine to carry the label “Ice Wine”. after ripening, grapes must be frozen, naturally, on the grape vine, to a temperature of minus 8 degrees Celsius or colder. The sugar content is measured and must be a minimum of 35 degrees Brix (a measurement of the sugar content). By contrast, grapes for the production of table wine are harvested between 21-25 Brix.

Production costs are extremely high. Grapes are hand- picked and crop size is small. Grapes may be affected by rot, be eaten by birds or animals, or may simply fall off the vine. all of these factors contribute to the price and the reason Ice Wine is referred to as Canada’s “liquid gold”. at least in part due to cost, and the fact that serving portions are minimal, bottle sizes vary.

Surprisingly, despite the sugar level, Ice Wine wine is not cloyingly sweet. The high sugar content in the wine is balanced by high acidity and it is this balance that is responsible for the bright refreshing qualities of these wines.

Flavors and aromas vary depending on the grape variety(red or white) used for production. These wines are medium-full-bodied, lush and flavourful. They have the ability to age but many believe that they are best enjoyed while youthful, fresh and vibrant.

Ice Wine pairs beautifully with foie gras, fruit-based desserts and aged cheese.

Enjoy “Canada’s liquid gold”.

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