This article is from the WineMaking FAQ, by malak@CAM.ORG (Don Buchan) with numerous contributions by others.
Icewine is basically a very sweet desert wine where the grape juice has
been naturally concentrated by partially freezing the grapes and
pressing, so that the ice will remain with the skins and stems etc.,
resulting in a very concentrated juice.
Home winemakers can produce wonderful icewine style of wines using
concentrates. The only difference is that the juice was concentrated in
a factory as opposed to freezing on the vine.
Several suggestions follow:
In western Canada the Brew Crew and its affiliated stores carry an
icewine kit which is made by R.J. Grape products. One kit makes 11.5
litres, and it costs approximately $70 Can.
Alternatively you can use a regular kit and only bring it up to 11.5
litres instead of 23, or use two kits and bring up to 23 litres or
combine a 15 litre juice kit and a 3kg to 5kg concentrate kit instead
of water to bring the batch to 23 litres.
This method allows you to be very creative. For example you can start
with a riesling as a base, and add a gewurtztraminer concentrate or
several different concentrates, even a small amount of red wine
concentrate. It is possible to create a truly unique and complex
icewine type desert wine using this blending method. Note: you can also
use this method in regular winemaking as well.
Another suggestion is to use a readily available super concentrated
form of grapes: RAISINS. Take 1 pound of raisins, and 1 pound of
seedless dates, put them in the blender with some juice, blend it until
it's a puree and add it to the primary. After fermentation is complete
and the wine is stabilized, add 1/2 pound of raisins and the same
amount of dates, prepared in the blender (at this point extraction of
the sugar and flavour is the goal). Use additional concentrate to raise
the specific gravity to 1.050, and proceed as usual.
In order to make it the traditional way, the grapes must be left on the
vine late in the season until they are partly frozen, usually when the
temperature has reached -7C (19F) for six weeks, and then quickly
harvested and pressed to get only the concentrated juice in the centre
of the grape, while avoiding allowing the ice crystals to melt and/or
directly join the must. Alternatively, you can partially freeze your
grapes in your freezer. Ferment the juice as you would a regular wine.
To use the non-traditional method, adjust the sg by adding honey and
concentrate (usually 3 parts concentrate to 1 part honey) to the
desired alcohol yield. Ferment until dry. Stabilize the wine and
filter. After stabilization, add concentrate & honey to raise the sg to
about 1.050 (THIS IS NOT A TYPO). At this point proceed with normal
winemaking techniques (fining, cold conditioning, and it MUST be
It is important to control the acid levels, especially when using the
concentrate feeding method, as concentrates are already acid balanced
for 23 litres.