German ice wine: A rare winter treat
Winegrowers in the Rheinland-Pfalz region recently rejoiced when frigid temperatures caused their vines to frost over. Laborers hit the fields in the early morning to collect the frozen grapes to make a rare and much-sought-after treat — ice wine (Eiswein)!
Ice wine? What’s that?
No, it’s not an ice pop made out of wine (although that does sound pretty tasty) as its name might suggest. It is actually a type of dessert wine that is produced from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. When temperatures drop low enough, the water freezes, but the sugars and solids do not. This makes it possible for more concentrated juice to be pressed from the fruit, which results in a syrupy, sweet wine with a heavenly flavor. Since the production of ice wine is restricted to the regions where temperatures get low enough before rot takes over the vines, it is considered a risky business. As a result, the specialty is scarce, which drives up the price and makes it a bit of a luxury.
Most of the world’s ice wine is made in Canada and Germany. While you are stationed overseas, take advantage of the opportunity and try a glass in honor of this year’s successful harvest. Ask your favorite local vintner for a bottle; 2018’s batch won’t be ready yet (as 2018 harvesting occured in late fall), but you can taste the vintage of years past.
Eiswein also makes a perfect hostess gift, so be sure to look for it at your favorite Getrankemarkt on your next holiday shopping venture.