Ice wine, or Eiswein in German, is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.
The sugars and other dissolved solids don’t 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. Unlike the grapes from which other dessert wines are made, such as Sauternes, Tokaji, or Trockenbeerenauslee, ice wine grapes should not be affected by Botrytis cinerea or noble rot, at least not to any great degree. 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
Botrytis, they are said to come in “ clean ”.
Ice wine production is obviously limited to that minority of the world’s wine-growing regions where the necessary cold temperatures can be expected to be reached with some regularity. Canada and Germany are the world’s largest producers of ice wines.
About 75 percent of the icewine in Canada comes from Ontario.
Sparkling ice wine
There is also a sparkling version of ice wine, was created by accidentally in 1988, by Canadian wine writer, Konrad Ejbich, in his home cellar, using tank samples of the previous year’s ice wine, from the Inniskillin winery in Ontario. In 1996, finally acknowledging he could not produce this product himself on a commercial basis, Ejbich decided to share the concept. He wrote about his experience with sparkling ice wine in his colums in Wine Tidings magazine, challenging Canadian wineries to make sparkling ice wine on a commercial basis. The Magnotta winery in Ontario filled a 50-litre metal beer barrel with ice wine, carbonated it, and called their product the first commercial sparkling ice wine. However, Ontario’s Vinteners Quality Alliance (VQA0) would not give the product its stamp of approval because no such category existed in its regulations. In 1998, Inniskillin Wines produced the first charmat method sparkling ice wine. The VQA approved Inniskillin’s product because it was not made using carbonation.
NEW YEAR’S EVE ICEWINE RECEIPE
Icewine Scallop Ceviche Verjus Pickled Summer Vegetables
2 Diver Scallops
4 tbsp Peller Estates Vidal Icewine
Half tsp crushed pink peppercorns
2 sprig tarragon
Half vanilla pod
3 tbsp cabernet franc verjus
Half bay leaf * Half tsp white peppercorns
4 spear asparagus (green)-blanched
4 spear asparagus (white)-blanched
2 teardrop tomato (red) halved-blanched
2 teardrop tomato (yellow) halved-blanched
1 yellow patty pan squash (quartered)-blanched
fleur de sel
Reduce Icewine by half. While still warm pour over the pink peppercorns, 1 sprig of tarragon and the vanilla pod. Set aside and allow to cool. Place 2 tbsp verjus, bay leaf, remaining sprig of tarragon, and white peppercorns in a pot and boil. Once boiled pour over vegetables. Season with fleur de sel and set aside to cool. Slice the scallops in half and cover with the flavoured Icewine, and
remaining 1 tbsp of verjus. Season with fleur de sel and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the pickled vegetables (removing the bay leaf and peppercorns). Toss with some chervil and place in the center of the plate. Place the scallop Ceviche on top of the vegetables and pour the flavoured icewine overtop. Serve immediately
Recipe makes 4 portions
Jason Parsons Executive Chef / Peller Estates Winery Restaurant