The complex method for making Ontario ice wine is modeled after the centuries old techniques for making German Eiswein. (The first ice wines were produced in Germany about 700 years ago.) According to Canadian law, in order to be considered true Ice Wine, all grapes must be harvested after the first hard freeze at a minimum of –8°.
Freezing temperature is key. If it doesn’t come quickly enough in the season the grapes can rot. If it is too severe, the grapes will become to hard and no juice can be extracted. In order to retain their sweet flavor, the harvested grapes need to be pressed immediately while still frozen. The pressed juice is thick and sugary, much like the wine produced after fermentation! This thick sweet grapey character of ice wine makes it a natural after dinner desert wine. It also makes it a natural partner to our white tea, a Pai mu tan from Fujian.