Warm German Winter: Bad News for Ice Wine Aficionados

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A Warm Winter Left Germany Unable to Produce Its Famed Ice Wines

by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com

Known for their uniquely sweet flavor, ice wines are a prized treat made from grapes that are frozen while still on the vine. The viticultural tradition originated around 200 years ago in Germany, which remains a top producer of the drink. But this winter, according to David McHugh of the Associated Press, the country’s ice wine output has been drastically compromised by unseasonably warm temperatures.

The German Wine Institute announced this week that just one winery—Zimmerle, located in the region of Württemberg—had managed to harvest a batch of ice wine. “Beyond that, we are not aware of any other winemaker from one of the 13 German wine regions, who managed to produce ice wine in this mild winter,” said the institute’s Ernst Büscher. As far as experts know, 2019 marks the first vintage, or harvest year, in German history with such a low yield.

Allowing grapes to freeze on the vine concentrates their flavors, leading to a delicious dessert beverage. But making ice wines is a finicky process. The grapes have to be picked when temperatures drop below 19 degrees Fahrenheit; if left too long, however, they might start to thaw and rot, which dilutes their juices. Winemakers have to be prepared…

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