What is the difference, if any, between ice wine, iced wine(sometimes called frostbitten ice wine) and late harvest wines?

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Late Harvest these are grapes that are left on the vine until they reach a certain brix (sugar %) level outside the normal range for regular table wine. There are several sub categories of Late Harvest, which include Ice Wine, Botrytized, sun dried (raisined) and regular late harvest.

One of the better known of the late harvest wines is Sauternes. These are wines picked after the grapes have gotten moldy. (AKA Noble Rot) The mold acts to dry out the grapes making them like raisins. These wines are from white grapes mainly. In Hungary they are from Tokay. In the Alsace they are called Sélection de Grains Nobles (selection of the noble berries). The mold concentrates the sugars and adds it's own special flavor.

Ice Wine In certain places in the world, like Canada, USA and Germany the grapes need to be naturally frozen on the vine to be called Ice Wine this is the law. The temperature varies but somewhere around -7f to -10f before they are allowed to be picked. It's a crap shoot since you are not assured you will get that cold in the winter following harvest. So it is rare. They need to use special hydraulic presses since you are pressing the sugar out of little round ice balls. Sugar levels are so high that the yeast cannot complete fermentation leaving residual sweetness after fermentation.

Iced Wine In many parts of the world there is no regulation around the word "ice wine" and many wine makers just take grapes and throw them in a huge freezer and mechanically freeze them called cryoextraction. Since they can't legally use the term "Ice Wine" without freezing them on the vine, they had to come up with a made up name. Iced Wine is one of those names. Frostbitten Ice Wine is a proprietary name from winemaker here in Washington State

  • In Alsace late harvest is called vandage tardive with SGN being a separate/different category of the same grape variety, etc. – Peter Point Jun 2 '17 at 3:11
  • And across the Rhine river in Germany we have four(!) levels of Late Harvest wines, well five if you add in Eiswein. Spätlese (late harvest), Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. BA and TBA are botrytised wines, the TBA wines being the highest qualtiy. – farmersteve Jun 2 '17 at 13:12
  • Quire so. After making friends with the wines of France in the last half-century, I must redouble my efforts to know more intimately the wonderful 'noble rot' grapes and wine styles from Germany. – Peter Point Jun 3 '17 at 6:41

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