Eiswein is a sweet dessert wine that originated in Germany. This "late harvest" wine is traditionally pressed from grapes that are harvested after they freeze on the vine. "Eiswein" literally means "ice wine," and is called so on some labels. If you want to buy eiswein, know the country and the method that produced the bottle to find the best available "ice wine" for your budget.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Locate a local wine store or look on line for wine sellers who carry eiswein.
Look for a bottle that fits your price range. German and Austrian Eisweins, which follow established methods of harvest and production, are the European gold standard. However, many less expensive, but still excellent, ice wines come from Austria, New Zealand, Slovenia, Canada and the United States. Not all producers let grapes freeze naturally before harvesting them at night. This time-honored and labor-intensive method of production, as well as the loss of all but a few drops of juice, explains the higher price of traditionally produced ice wine. Some vintners pick the grapes and then artificially freeze them before pressing.
Pick a colorful and fragrant bouquet. Eiswein is distinguished by the contrast between its fragrant sweetness and acidity. A great eiswein is both rich and fresh. Young eisweins have tropical fruit, peach or berry overtones. Older eisweins suggest caramel or honey. Colors can range from white to rose.
Chill eiswein before serving, but do not let it get too cold.
Enjoy eiswein with dessert or as dessert.
Tips and warnings
- Canada produces ice wine or "icewine" according to the same strict standards as Germany and Austria. Grapes are left to freeze on the vines, are harvested during the night or early in the morning and then gently pressed. In recent years, Canadian ice wine has become famous for its quality.
- Eiswein may also be labeled "Vin de Glacier" or "Ledove Vino."
- Although dessert wine is often served in smaller glasses, larger stemware helps release eiswein's complex flavors and aromas to full advantage.
- Wine connoisseurs advocate the "natural freeze" method for the best bouquet and character.
- Because eiswein is a newcomer, little is known about its longevity. Avoid cellaring most eisweins.