Happy 2013! Tis the season for making new promises and new goals for the new year. Along with my regular New Year’s resolutions (losing weight, winning the lottery, etc) I am also adding a new resolution this year – broaden my horizons on wine. I like this resolution because it is a great excuse to try some wines that I normally would not go buy.
So to start the year off right, I am going to leave my comfort zone of dry red wines and buy a sweet wine this week. But I am not going to settle for just any sweet wine – I am going to try an Ice Wine. What is an Ice Wine you ask? Ice Wine is a very sweet wine that is produced from grapes that sat on the vines through the first freeze of the winter. While Ice Wine is usually very expensive it is a great wine to serve after a big meal. But to truly appreciate Ice Wine, see below the process to make Ice Wine.
First, in order for a wine to be declared Ice Wine, the grapes are usually picked between midnight and 2 a.m. during the first or second freeze and immediately pressed. This ensures that the water in the grape is still frozen thus allowing the sugar and other solids to give a sugary concentrate. This concentrate has a consistency of syrup until the wine enters the fermentation process.
As you can imagine, the grapes that are picked have already started to shrink so the grape is much smaller than if it was picked during the normal harvest season. We estimate that it takes almost 10 times as many grapes for an ice wine than for a regular wine due to the amount of concentrate we get from these grapes. Because Ice Wine is so sweet, it is usually sold in a smaller bottle as many people would not be able to drink a regular size bottle of ice wine.
Because Ice Wine can only be made in areas where it freezes, many California wineries have started an artificial Ice Wine process called Iced Wine or Icee Wine where grapes are picked during the normal harvest process then frozen in mass amounts for two months, then pressed. This wine is still much sweeter than a normal wine but may not cost as much. Next week we will compare some Ice and Iced Wines to start off the New Year.