Have you ever had ice wine before? Ice wine is becoming more and more popular for its, bright, complex flavor. It’s also a favorite for after-dinner drinks. Named after the state of the grapes when they’re harvested (they’re frozen), ice wine is a delicious digestif. But how long does ice wine keep?
Since ice wine is a fortified wine with high sugar content, ice wine will keep for many years if stored properly. This means storing it in a dark, cool location that doesn’t have high fluctuations in temperature. If you have opened a bottle of ice wine, it will last seven to ten days in the fridge with the top sealed.
But there is a lot more to learn about ice wine and how to prolong its storage life. In this article, we’ll go over how to best enjoy ice wine and how to improve how long it keeps.
Let’s jump in!
Why Does Ice Wine Keep for So Long?
As we mentioned above, ice wine will keep for a long time if stored properly. This is because most ice wines have a high alcohol content for wine (over 20%) as well as a high amount of sugar in them. They also tend to be fairly acidic, which also helps hold the flavor up over many years.
Author Note: All of these factors allow ice wines to stay stable in storage for many years (20 to 30 years) without their flavor breaking down or changing dramatically. In order to take advantage of aging ice wine, however, you need to be sure to store your bottles properly.
How to Store Ice Wine Properly
Now that your know ice wine can last many years, you’re probably wondering what the best way to store ice wine is. Don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of the top tips for storing ice wine properly below.
Tips and Tricks
- Store your ice wine bottles somewhere cold and dark. Preferably in a cellar or wine cooler that is set to 50 to 59 degrees. Even though you want to serve ice wine chilled, it is best to store it at the normal optimum wine storing temperature. If you don’t have a wine cooler or a cellar, you can use the crawlspace below your house to keep ice wine cool and dark. The times you have to be most cautious are in the summer (when it can get too hot) and in the winter (when it can get too cold).
- The next rule you need to follow for properly storing your ice wine is to keep it in the dark. UV rays from the sun are awful for ice wine over time. The UV rays will break down the ice wine’s structure and make the wine taste flat and bad.
- You can make sure your ice wine stays dark relatively easily by storing it in a covered wine cooler and keeping the cooler somewhere dark. Or if you have a dedicated room in your crawl space or house, this will obviously also do the job. Just make sure there are no windows!
- Another important factor you need to consider when aging your ice wine is to age it someplace that has relatively high humidity. High humidity prevents the corks in the bottles of ice wine from becoming dehydrated and potentially failing.
- You also want to prevent them from being moved frequently or at all. Moving your bottles of ice wine will break up the delicate chemical reactions and development of the ice wine, which will hinder the aging process.
- Lastly, there is also a proper way for ice wine bottles to be oriented while aging. All wines should be stored horizontally.
Does Ice Wine Get Better with Age?
As with all wines, it depends on the flavor profile you like the most. Just because ice wines can be aged many years doesn’t necessarily mean you should wait. Here are some general rules for aging ice wine and reasons why you should or shouldn’t wait to open a bottle.
- If you enjoy strong flavorful wine, with high acidity and fruity high notes, you should open your ice wine sooner rather than later. Younger wines tend to have brighter, more robust flavor profiles. Since ice wine is a dessert wine, this is often desirable and just fine.
- On the other hand, if you enjoy more toned down and nuanced flavors, then you should consider letting your ice wine age. The brighter flavors of young ice wine will mellow as it ages revealing more subtle, nuanced flavors.
Author Note: So it really depends on the type of flavor experience you want to have. Which one do we like more for ice wine? We like the boldness of fresh ice wine, so we say open it sooner rather than later.
How Do You Store Opened Ice Wine?
Another really common question we get is how to properly store opened ice wine. As with any wine, as soon as you open it the wine begins to oxidize, and the flavor changes. If you’re wanting to preserve an opened bottle of ice wine, you’ll want to slow down this process.
Here are some tips and tricks for storing opened ice wine.
- Leave your bottle of ice wine open for as little time as possible. Open it, pour your glass, then put the cork back in immediately. This will limit the exposure of the wine to outside oxygen and slow down the oxidation process.
- Always, always, always store opened ice wine in your refrigerator. Keeping the wine cold will also slow down the oxidation process and will prevent your wine from spoiling or growing bacteria.
- If you have a fourth of a bottle left or less, your better off just finishing it. With this little amount of wine left, chances are by the next time you want to drink it the wine will be flat and bad tasting. You’re better off just enjoying it or giving it to a friend to drink immediately.
- If you’re really serious about storing your wine for more than a few days, you can get a tank of carbon dioxide to top off your opened bottles of ice wine. Why? The carbon dioxide replaces the air that is in your opened bottle and prevents it from oxidizing (no oxygen in carbon dioxide).
What Can You Do with Ice Wine?
Drink it obviously! Jokes aside, there are many dishes that go well with ice wine. Here are some tips to properly enjoying ice wine.
- We enjoy drinking ice wine as digestif or dessert wine the most. It’s best served in the winter after a big dinner (think Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving). Pour it in traditional white wine glasses or sherry glasses if you have them. And remember, a little goes a long way! It’s a fortified wine after all.
- If you want to pair appetizers or dishes with ice wine, we recommend pairing it with salty or spicy dishes to help balance out the strong flavors. Spicy Cajun, curries, Thai food, or even Mexican food can go well with ice wine. For after-dinner treats, ice wine goes great with dark unsweetened chocolate.
- Think of foods and dishes that pair with Port or other dessert wines. These will often also go great with ice wine.
Why Is Ice Wine So Expensive?
Another question we get a lot is why ice wine is so expensive? Not all ice wines are that expensive, but the biggest reason why ice wine can be expensive is because of the difficulty in making it.
The grapes used for making ice wine have to be left on the vine longer than any of the other grape varieties and require their own harvesting session. These grapes are often left on the vine so long that workers have to harvest them after the first couple of frosts. This is why it’s called ice wine.
Author Note: After the small batch of grapes is harvested, they are squeezed and the juice is concentrated into a much more dense wine than other types. This means that an already small amount of grapes creates an even smaller amount of wine.
After the wine has been condensed, the winemakers then add additional alcohol to the wine to stop the fermentation process. This also increases its alcohol content to the desired amount. A similar approach is taken when making Port – the dessert wine from Portugal.
Since both of these factors make fermenting a small bottle of ice wine more difficult than normal wines, it means they need to be priced higher to turn a profit. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Port is another dessert wine that similarly can be quite expensive.
Ice wine is one of our favorite dessert drinks for many reasons. But not very many people know much about it, which why we get questions like how long does ice wine keep. After reading this article, you now know that ice wine keeps for a long time.
Hopefully, you also learned a lot more about ice wine – from what dishes pair with it to how long you can keep ice wine after opening a bottle.
We hope you found this article informative and useful. Ice wine is definitely not a traditional type of wine, but we think it is one of the most fun wines to drink. It’s also a great gift to bring to a dinner party.
Have a favorite type of ice wine you would like to share with us and our readers? Hit us up in the comments below!
To living a full-bodied life,