What is Ice Wine? The Art of Harvesting Frozen Grapes

What is Ice Wine? The Art of Harvesting Frozen Grapes

What is Ice Wine? The Art of Harvesting Frozen Grapes

Posted on November 22nd, 2023

Ice wine, also known as frozen grape wine, is a unique and exquisite type of wine that has captured the hearts of wine enthusiasts around the world. 

This extraordinary beverage is crafted through a meticulous and labor-intensive process that involves harvesting grapes in their frozen state, resulting in a wine that is sweet, flavorful, and exceptionally concentrated. 

But, what is ice wine? And how is it made?

In this article, we will delve into the intriguing world of ice wine, exploring what it is, how it's made, and why it's a beloved treasure among wine connoisseurs. 

Join us on a journey through the art of harvesting frozen grapes and discover the magic that lies within each precious bottle.

The Essence of Ice Wine

Ice wine is not your typical wine; it's a luxurious delicacy that stands apart in both flavor and production. This exceptional beverage is renowned for its sweet and luscious taste, which is achieved by allowing grapes to freeze on the vine before they are harvested. The result is a wine that bursts with natural sugars, acidity, and intense fruit flavors.

A Rich and Delectable Wine

At its core, ice wine is made from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine. The grapes are left on the vine long after the traditional harvest period, often well into the winter months, allowing them to freeze solid. 

This freezing process concentrates the sugars and flavors within the grapes, setting the stage for the creation of a rich and delectable wine.

A Sweet Elixir

One of the defining characteristics of ice wine is its sweetness. The freezing process causes the water in the grapes to crystallize, leaving behind a higher concentration of sugar in the remaining juice. When these grapes are pressed, the resulting liquid is intensely sweet, with a balanced acidity that keeps the sweetness from becoming cloying.

How is Ice Wine Made?

The journey from vineyard to bottle is a delicate and precise one, demanding careful timing and a deep understanding of winemaking techniques. Join us as we unravel the artistry behind the making of ice wine.

The Harvest

The art of harvesting frozen grapes is both demanding and time-sensitive. As winter temperatures drop, vineyard workers must be ready to harvest the frozen grapes at precisely the right moment. This often means working in the middle of the night or early morning when temperatures are at their lowest.

Precise Pressing

Once the grapes are harvested, they are taken to the winery for pressing. The grapes must still be frozen at this stage to ensure the highest quality ice wine. As the grapes thaw during pressing, the concentrated sugars are extracted, resulting in a small yield of intensely sweet juice.

Slow Fermentation

The juice obtained from the frozen grapes undergoes a slow and controlled fermentation process. This can take several months to complete, during which the sugars are converted into alcohol while maintaining the wine's natural sweetness.


After fermentation, ice wine is aged in temperature-controlled conditions to allow its flavors to mature and harmonize. This aging process can vary in length but is crucial for achieving the desired balance and complexity in the final wine.

The Rich Rewards of Patience

Crafting ice wine is a labor of love that demands patience and precision. It's a testament to the dedication of winemakers who are willing to wait for the perfect conditions to produce this exceptional elixir. The result is a wine that captures the essence of winter in every sip—a wine that is a true celebration of nature's bounty.

The Diverse World of Ice Wine

As we venture deeper into the world of ice wine, it's essential to appreciate the diversity that this remarkable category of wine offers. Ice wine is not confined to a single grape variety; instead, it spans a spectrum of flavors and characteristics, each originating from different grape types. Winemakers worldwide embrace this diversity, crafting ice wines that showcase the unique attributes of various grape varieties. 

Here's a glimpse into some of the most notable types of ice wine:

  • Riesling Ice Wine: Renowned for its bright acidity and vibrant fruitiness, Riesling grapes are a popular choice for ice wine production. The result is a wine that bursts with notes of apricot, peach, and zesty citrus, beautifully balanced by its natural sweetness.
  • Vidal Blanc Ice Wine: Vidal Blanc grapes thrive in colder climates, making them ideal for ice wine production. This variety often yields ice wines with luscious flavors of honey, tropical fruits, and a rich, syrupy texture.
  • Cabernet Franc Ice Wine: Red grape varieties like Cabernet Franc are used to create red ice wines. These wines offer a unique twist on the traditional ice wine profile, with flavors of red berries, cherry, and a hint of spice, all wrapped in the characteristic sweetness of ice wine.
  • Gewürztraminer Ice Wine: Gewürztraminer grapes contribute to ice wines with intense aromatics and exotic flavors. Expect notes of lychee, rose petals, and tropical fruits, making Gewürztraminer ice wine a fragrant and decadent choice.
  • Chardonnay Ice Wine: Chardonnay grapes, known for their versatility, can also be used to craft ice wine. These ice wines tend to be well-rounded, with flavors of orchard fruits, vanilla, and a silky texture.
  • Merlot Ice Wine: Merlot, a beloved red grape variety, can produce red ice wines with flavors of plum, black cherry, and a velvety mouthfeel. These wines are a delightful departure from traditional red wines.

How to Sip Your Frozen Wine

Now that we've explored the enchanting world of ice wine, from its inception on the vine to the diverse grape varieties used in its creation, let's turn our attention to the best part—savoring and sipping this exquisite elixir. Ice wine is a wine to be cherished, appreciated, and enjoyed with mindfulness. In this section, we'll share some expert tips on how to sip your frozen wine to fully experience its rich flavors and velvety textures.

1. Chill to the Perfect Temperature

Ice wine is best served chilled, but not too cold. Aim for a serving temperature of around 45°F (7°C) for white ice wines and slightly warmer, around 55°F (13°C), for red ice wines. This allows the flavors and aromas to fully develop without being overshadowed by extreme cold.

2. Choose the Right Glassware

Selecting the appropriate glassware can enhance your ice wine experience. Opt for small, tulip-shaped glasses that concentrate the aromas and direct them toward your nose. This design allows you to savor the wine's complex bouquet.

3. Observe the Color

Take a moment to admire the wine's color. White ice wines often exhibit a brilliant golden hue, while red ice wines showcase deep ruby or garnet tones. The color can give you insights into the grape variety used and the wine's age.

4. Inhale the Aromas

Swirl the wine gently in your glass to release its aromas. Ice wines are known for their aromatic complexity, so take your time to appreciate the fragrant bouquet. You might detect notes of honey, stone fruits, citrus, or floral elements depending on the grape variety.

5. Sip, Don't Guzzle

Ice wine is meant to be sipped slowly and savored. Take small sips to fully appreciate the wine's sweetness, acidity, and flavor profile. Let each sip linger on your palate, allowing the intricate layers of taste to unfold.

6. Pair Thoughtfully

Pair your ice wine with complementary foods. Its natural sweetness makes it an excellent match for desserts like fruit tarts, cheesecake, or crème brûlée. You can also enjoy it with blue cheeses or foie gras for a delectable contrast.

7. Serve as a Digestif

Consider serving ice wine as a digestif after a meal. Its sweetness and complexity make it an ideal choice to conclude a dining experience, cleansing the palate and leaving a lasting impression.

8. Share and Savor

Ice wine is a wine to share and savor with friends and loved ones. Its unique qualities make it a conversation starter and a delightful addition to gatherings and celebrations.

Related: 7 Festive Drinks to Toast to the Holidays: From Cocktails to Craft Beers 


In the world of wine, ice wine is a rare gem—a testament to the dedication of winemakers and the beauty of nature's frosty touch. Its production is a labor of love that yields a wine of unparalleled sweetness and complexity. 

At Mojave Brewing Company, we appreciate the art of crafting exceptional beverages, and we invite you to explore the world of ice wine.

As you embark on your ice wine tasting journey, we invite you to explore our frozen wine offerings. Our selection of frozen wines showcases the diversity and elegance of this unique wine style.

If you're intrigued by the allure of ice wine or would like to sample some of our own frozen wine offerings, we encourage you to get in touch with us. You can reach us at (702) 204-1387 or via email at [email protected]. We're here to share the magic of ice wine with you and help you discover the extraordinary flavors it has to offer. 

Raise your glass to the art of harvesting frozen grapes and the exceptional ice wines that result from this ancient craft. Cheers!

Raise a Glass with Mojave: Let's Brew Something Special Together!

Cheers! We're thrilled to connect with fellow beer and cider enthusiasts like you. At Mojave Brewing Company, we pour our heart and soul into crafting exceptional brews that are a testament to our commitment to quality and innovation. Whether you have a question, want to collaborate, or simply want to share your love for great beer, we can't wait to hear from you. Let's raise a glass and embark on an unforgettable brewing journey together!

Contact Us

Social Media