An unusually mild winter has left Germany without an ice wine harvest for the first time. It has sparked fears that the sweet dessert wine will become a rarity in future. None of Germany’s 13 wine-making regions saw the necessary temperatures of minus seven degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees fahrenheit) in 2019.
Experts now fear that the German ice wine – which already accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of the harvest – will become even more of a rarity.
Vintners had already struggled to produce the precious ice wine, which is high in sugar but low on alcohol content, in 2017 and 2018 when the weather was cold enough in just a few of Germany’s winegrowing areas. Harvests in 2012 and 2015 fared better, but wine-lovers would be lucky to lay their hands on one of 2014’s few bottles, the DWI said.
Ice wine is made from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. The colder the temperature at the time of harvest, the sweeter the wine. As temperatures rise because of climate change, vintners face the additional challenge of dealing with long, hot summers that are causing grapes meant for ice wine to ripen early.
The price of a small bottle of German ice wine starts at around 20 euros ($22) but higher quality ones can sell for well over 100 euros. Canada, Austria and Germany are the largest producers worldwide of ice wine. The novel desert wine is especially popular in Japan, China, Scandinavia and the United States.
Some Things To Know About Ice Wine
It’s sweet, but not crazy sweet:
Since the sugars come from the grapes themselves (none added), the drink isn’t syrupy or cloying. It’s a clean, tight, light sweetness that pairs particularly with cheeses, fruits and nuts. According to Scott McGregor, winemaker at Canada’s Lakeview Wine Co., “great ice wine has a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity, with concentrated flavors.”
Keep it cool
According to McGregor, it’s best to store it on its side or at a slant that keeps the cork wet at a consistent temperature of around 50 degrees (like you might find in a cellar).
Serve it cool
Ice wine is best served cool, but not cold (about 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit), to reap the most from the flavors. Small flutes or wine glasses are perfect; since the bottles are usually small and pricey, it also avoids anyone bogarting the whole bottle.
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