How To Make Icewine

Indulge in the delightful and luxurious treat of ice wine, perfect for a special occasion or a cozy winter evening. As a wine aficionado, I have always been captivated by the intricate process of crafting …

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Indulge in the delightful and luxurious treat of ice wine, perfect for a special occasion or a cozy winter evening. As a wine aficionado, I have always been captivated by the intricate process of crafting icewine. The transformation of grapes into a sweet nectar bursting with flavor, thanks to the freezing temperatures, is nothing short of magical.

What is Ice Wine?

Ice wine, also known as Eiswein in German, is a type of dessert wine that is made from grapes that have been left on the vine to freeze. Unlike traditional winemaking methods, where grapes are harvested at their peak ripeness, ice wine grapes are picked when the temperatures drop below freezing, usually in the late autumn or early winter.

The freezing temperatures cause the water inside the grapes to freeze, while the sugars, acids, and other concentrated flavors remain in a liquid state. The frozen grapes are then pressed, resulting in a highly concentrated, intensely flavored juice. This juice is then fermented slowly to create a luscious wine with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

The Process of Making Ice Wine

The process of making ice wine requires a delicate balance of timing and weather conditions. In order to produce high-quality ice wine, winemakers need a period of sustained cold weather, with temperatures dropping to -8°C (17.6°F) or lower.

Once the ideal weather conditions are met, the grapes are carefully hand-picked in the early morning hours, when they are still frozen. The frozen grapes are then immediately transported to the winery, where they are gently pressed. The pressing process is slow and gentle to extract only the concentrated juice, leaving behind the frozen water crystals.

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The juice is then transferred to fermentation vessels, where it undergoes a slow fermentation process that can take several months. This slow fermentation helps to preserve the natural sweetness and vibrant flavors of the grapes, resulting in a wine that is rich, complex, and intensely aromatic.

Choosing the Right Grapes

Not all grape varieties are suitable for making ice wine. The most common grape varieties used for ice wine production are Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Franc. These varieties have thick skins that can withstand the freezing temperatures and retain their natural acidity and flavor.

While several wine regions around the world produce ice wine, some of the most renowned and sought-after ice wines come from Germany, Canada, and Austria. These regions have the ideal climate conditions for producing high-quality ice wines, with cold winters and a long enough growing season to allow the grapes to fully ripen before the freeze.

Savoring the Delights of Ice Wine

Ice wine is a truly special and unique wine that deserves to be savored and enjoyed. Its intense flavors and natural sweetness make it the perfect accompaniment to desserts, such as fruit tarts, crème brûlée, or cheese platters with rich blue cheeses.

When serving ice wine, it’s important to chill it slightly but not overdo it. The flavors and aromas of the wine are best showcased when it is served between 8°C (46°F) and 10°C (50°F). Pour the wine into small, tulip-shaped glasses to fully appreciate its aromas and flavors.


Ice wine is a true labor of love and a testament to the skill and dedication of winemakers. The process of making ice wine requires patience, precision, and a little bit of magic from Mother Nature. The result is a wine that is not only delicious but also a reflection of the unique terroir and winemaking traditions of its origin.

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So, the next time you have the opportunity to try a glass of ice wine, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that went into creating this liquid gold. Cheers!

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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