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Home  German Riesling Wine Knowledge  German Wine Categories  QmP  Eiswein
The last category and rarest category is Eiswein.

The term Eiswein means "ice wine". German Eiswein must be harvested at least 8 degrees Celsius below zero but harvested and pressed while frozen. Water is separated from the sugar and the acid of the grapes and left in the press in the form of ice crystals. It must have at least the minimum sugar level of a Beerenauslese (BA), but must be unaffected by botrytis (so-called "noble rot"),. Eiswein does not have the thick, honey-sweet quality of Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines and has a clearer taste.

This is one of the great specialties of German wine. It only happens in rare years when the first frost, usually in December, will freeze the small portion of grapes that the vintner has left on the vine. Other countries produce Ice Wine, but often by freezing the grapes in a commercial facility. The German Eiswein,
sits alongside the Trockenbeerenauslese as the Queen of the German dessert wines and a good ice wine can age for up to 100 years.

German Ice wine is always a gamble for vintners, because they have to decide to leave grapes on the vine long after the regular harvest is finished.

They risk that the winter may not become cold enough for the harvest of an ice wine, which can only happen after several days of consistent, below freezing temperatures. If the temperature doesn't turn cold enough or does not stay consistently below freezing, the entire harvest is lost. However, in the rare years when a harvest occurs, the grapes are harvested by hand (wearing gloves, so the grapes won't defrost) very early in the morning to avoid thawing temperatures. The grapes are pressed frozen, which means that very little water gets into the press, extracting a small quantity of highly concentrated juice. The resulting elixir creates a vibrant bond between sweetness and acidity that holds its own against the equally charismatic BAs and TBAs.

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