Are you a seasoned wine drinker looking for something new to add to your collection? Are you tired of Cabernets, bored with Zinfandels, and feel as though you've had your fill of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays? If so, make your next drink of wine something to remember by picking up a bottle of icewine, noble rot wine, or a combination of the two. Read on to learn more about these peculiar, yet delicious, wine selections.
Icewine is wine made from grapes that are not harvested until after they are frozen on the vine. As outside temperatures get colder, water in the grapes freezes while the sugars and dissolved solids remain thawed. When the temperature hits -8 degrees Celsius, the grapes are harvested quickly, often in the middle of the night. The liquid that is pressed from these grapes is ultra-concentrated, making for a very sweet, yet equally acidic, wine.
Because of their late harvest, few grapes last long enough to make it into a bottle of icewine. The longer they sit on the vine, the more susceptible they are to falling, being eaten by birds or other animals, or contracting plant diseases. Weather is also a huge determining factor of how much icewine is available at any given time, since mild winters may result in the fruit never being ready to harvest.
The limited nature of this wine makes it difficult to find, but if you're fortunate enough to live in Germany or Canada, your chances of scoring a bottle are fair. As the top 2 leading producers of icewine, many local wine stores in these countries carry it when it's in season.
Noble Rot Wine
In the Tokaj district of Hungary, grape vines near rivers and streams become susceptible to something known as noble rot. While most plant illnesses are feared by farmers, though, noble rot is welcomed. Why? Noble rot attacks the skin of the grapes, making them thin and translucent. Once the skins are affected, the sun can then penetrate them and dry up much of the liquid inside the gapes. All that's left after noble rot has run its course on a bunch of grapes is a small amount of juice with an extremely high sugar content.
This concentrated liquid is perfectly fine for human consumption and produces a smooth, sweet, tropical-tasting dessert wine.
Grapes for noble rot wine must be picked at precisely the correct time; they need to be in the late stages of the disease, yet not so late that they've completely shriveled up. In order to get each grape at prime harvest time, vineyard workers often perform daily checks and pick only a select few bunches at a time.
Noble Rot IceWine
If you're looking for a wine that's even more special and unique than icewine or noble rot wine, there are a few brands that encompass the best of both worlds. Under extremely unique circumstances, grapes affected by noble rot are dehydrated to perfection at precisely the same time they undergo their first freeze of the year. These very special grapes produce some of the finest, sweetest dessert wines available on the market.
It can be tricky to score a bottle of wine that is both icewine and noble rot wine, but you'll get the best odds by searching your local wine shops in late winter or early spring.
If you're an experienced wine drinker who has had their fill of all common varieties, it's time to start experimenting with more unique styles of wine. Icewine, noble rot wine, and noble rot icewine are harder to find on the market than most wines, but their unique tastes coupled with the peculiar processes used to create them make them well worth the hunt.
For more information about these and other unique options, contact a local wine store.