Eiswein, The Sweet Winter Wine

Who ever said the grape harvest ends in October? The start of the year is the best time to pick the frozen grapes from which Eiswein (Ice Wine) is made.
This German tradition of Eiswein has become more and more popular in the Nordic countries, as well as the cold regions of the U.S. and Canada. Some grapes live well beyond the autumn, hanging on to the vines well into winter and the rst real frosts. These are the grapes used to produce Eiswein, the iced wine that’s becoming increaingly popular among consumers.
Legend has it that it was first—and accidentally—made in 1830 during a great famine that struck the German region of Rheingau, on the banks of the Rhine river. In order to keep their livestock alive, residents decided not to pick all of the grapes during the harvest, leaving some on the vines so their animals could eat them during the winter months.
A few curious Germans, however, tried to make wine from these frozen grapes and found the result to be delicious and sweet: when frozen, the sugar content increases to about 250 grams for every liter of wine, which makes a pleasing contrast to the acidity of the grapes. Freezing actually prohibits the formation of the noble mold, botrytis cinerea, that mitigates acidity in normal wines. And this is the primary, but crucial, di erence between Eiswein and similar sweet wines like Sauternes and Tocaj. And it’s this balance between sweetness and acidity that makes Eiswein suitable for pairings with both sweet and savory foods, especially cheese.