Also known as 'Eiswein' (in German), icewine is a single word. Be wary of the fakes that often come labeled as 'ice wine', 'icedwine', 'red ice wine', 'white ice wine.' Also, stay away from 'icebox wines' that have been prepared by freezing grapes in freezers, and not naturally frozen in vineyards.
Also touted as the 'nectar of the Gods', icewine is a type of dessert wine that is prepared from frozen grapes. The grapes are allowed to freeze on the vines until the temperature drops beyond —8ºC. The frozen grapes are then harvested by hand in the middle of the night when the temperatures are freezing cold, before they are pressed to yield the precious grape nectar. Since the grapes are pressed in their frozen state, wherein their water content is still in the form of ice crystals, only the concentrated juice is released, with the ice remaining behind. The concentrated sweet syrup is then fermented to form this dessert wine.
Owing to the perfect climatic conditions available for the production of icewines, Canada is the largest producer of this type of sweet wine across the globe, with Ontario's Niagara Peninsula being the epitome of icewine production worldwide. Canada is followed by Germany and Austria. However, today icewines are prepared in different parts of the world, including the United States and even in China. This sweet and delicious dessert wine is a must try; however, with so many brands (and fakes) out there, how do you know which one to purchase? Let's take a look at some of the best icewines available in the market.
If you're looking for an elegant aperitif or a rich dessert wine that you can serve with your favorite dessert, then take a look at some of these dessert wines.
This icewine is prepared from the Canadian hybrid grape (Ugni Blanc and Seibel)―Vidal Blanc, which is a robust white grape variety capable of withstanding harsh winter conditions. It comes with a thick skin that resists the freezing cold temperatures required to produce this dessert wine. The wine produced from this grape is sweet, but the layers of sweetness are perfectly balanced by the acidity of the grape, giving it its lovely sweet and acidic flavor. Deep golden in color, vidal icewines showcase lovely flavors of mango, lychee, passion fruit, pear, pineapple, and notes of honey, grapefruit, and apricot. The wine ends with a lovely silky finish, causing you to want more.
Top Vidal Icewine Makers
Inniskillin, Canada's premium producer of icewines, offers a more fruity, unoaked version and a complex oaked version. Icewines from Peller Estates, Pillitteri Estates Winery, and Jackson-Triggs are also excellent.
This medium- to full-bodied white dessert wine is nothing less than golden nectar. It is prepared from the light-skinned German grape―Riesling that comprises lovely residual sugar. This wine bursts of fruity flavors like pear, mango, papaya, peach, floral honey, raisin, etc., which get balanced wonderfully by the citrus and lemony notes. Crisp and clean on the palate, this refreshing, gold-colored icewine is loved for its pleasantly sweet and well-balanced flavor profile.
Top Riesling Icewine Makers
You can opt for the icewines produced by Inniskillin, Casa Larga, Peller Estates, or even Stratus Vineyards. Icewines from Ex Nihilo Vineyards are also known for their fine quality.
Cabernet Franc Icewine
Traditionally, icewines have been associated with white wines; however, red icewines are also available. This ruby red icewine is prepared by pressing naturally frozen Cabernet Franc grapes. The sweetness obtained from pressing of frozen grapes is balanced wonderfully by the tannins and acid content present in them. In terms of flavor profile, this wine bursts with flavors of red berries―mostly strawberry and cranberry, notes of delicate spices and rhubarb, and a lovely lingering honey and brown sugar finish.
Top Cabernet Franc Icewine Makers
Besides the regular top Canadian icewine makers like Inniskillin, other wine makers like Henry of Pelham Family Estate, Stratus Vineyards, etc., also dole out wonderful icewines.
Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine
Did you know that your favorite steak wine is also available in the icewine version? This lovely garnet to ruby red icewine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that have been harvested at —9 to —15ºC. With marmalade, vanilla, and plum jam aromas, this wine bursts with flavors of honeyed berries, candied orange peels, and mineral notes. The sweetness and acidity have been balanced perfectly. Fresh and fruity on the palate, this icewine is simply delicious and smooth.
Top Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine Makers
Tawse Winery, Lakeview Cellars, Rockway Vineyards, and Palatine Hills Estate Winery are some wine makers known for their icewines.
This glorious, golden nectar is produced from the grape varietal―Ehrenfelser, that is known for its high yielding grape capacity. Slightly softer in acidity as compared to the Riesling icewine, this amber-colored wine has low sugar levels, which allows its delicate acidity to shine through. Citrusy on the nostrils, this dessert wine bursts with flavors of tropical fruits, honey, Okanagan peaches, and has notes of walnuts, dates, and apricots coming through.
Top Ehrenfelser Icewine Makers
Try out the icewine by King's Court Estate Winery, Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery, etc.
The spicy Gewürztraminer is also available in the sweet icewine variety, and adds its unique notes of spiciness to the fruity and floral notes of the concentrated, sweet wine. Made from the pink-skinned Gewürztraminer grapes, this icewine is meant for those who are looking for something different―on the bold and spicy side! Beginning with aromas of peach, apricots, mangoes, pears, etc., this wine also features notes of green tea and spices. The acidity balances the sweetness well, and its honey-infused finish leaves your palate for more.
Top Gewürztraminer Icewine Makers
Gewürztraminer icewines from Palatine Hills Estate Winery and Jackson-Triggs are worth trying.
Owing to its labor-intensive harvesting method and considerably lesser yield, icewines are more expensive than other wines. Moreover, the quantity you get is also lesser―375 ml half bottles. On the brighter side, you only need a small glass of dessert wine to satisfy your vinous buds. So, save up some cash and serve it along with some decadent dessert, to make your romantic evening even more special.