WineGuyMike: Ice-Wine


Making wine each and every vintage can be very difficult.  Winemakers are at the mercy of Mother Nature and never know for sure until harvest time what the bounty of the crop has yielded.

Ice wine is a form of extreme winemaking that takes the excruciating circumstances of Mother Nature to an entirely new level.  Ice-wine or “liquid gold” as it is referred to by wine aficionados is a dessert, or aperitif wine.

The practice of making Eiswein in Germany dates back to the early 1700’s.  But it is in Canada where it has become a modern day art.  Canada is now recognized as the finest Ice-wine producing area in the world.  This is mainly due to the Herculean efforts of one man, Donald Ziraldo. (Read more about Ziraldo in this two part series; Donald Ziraldo Ice-Wine Part I;  Donald Ziraldo Ice-Wine Part II).

Ice-Wine Part I

Ice-wine is a winemaking style wherein grapes are naturally frozen on the vine, harvested during the middle of the night and pressed in the extreme cold to separate the juice from the ice crystals.  Ice-wine yields are a mere 10-15% of an average table wine harvest.  The fermentation requires special yeast and many months of time.  This remarkable process concentrates the sugar and acids and intensifies the aroma and flavor of the grapes.  The result is very special wine that expresses aromatic flavors of white and tropical fruits such as mango, peach, and lychee.

Ice-Wine Part II 

Natural Ice-wine by wine regulations requires a hard freeze; in Canada the temperature must drop to -8° C (or 17° F) colder, and in Germany −7° C (or 19° F). This usually occurs months after a typical harvest.  If the freeze does not come soon enough, the entire crop can be lost to rotting and if the freeze is too severe, it can prevent any juice from being extracted when the grapes are pressed.  Animals also love these sweet grapes and left to hang too long the grapes will naturally drop from the vine.  This is a very tenuous circumstance waiting for the “perfect” climatic conditions.

From my table to yours,


Empowering a wine shopper with knowledge to buy great wine in a budget minded way.  Enjoy Life, Wine, and Food. WineGuyMike shares with you his straightforward and simple approach of the “how to buy” wine. Your feedback is WineGuyMIke’s evolution. To learn more about wine or read stories of influential wine and food personalities visit