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Anyone who has had ice wine before is most likely a fan due to its bright, complex flavor, the interesting way it is crafted, and its popularity among after dinner drinkers. Ice wine is named after the state the grapes are in when they’re harvested (they are frozen).
The grapes are kept on the vine until they are frozen which can be a risky process if there is not an adequate frost. The German term for the wine is Eiswein.
In order to store ice wine unopened, you need to utilize a dark area with no windows (preferably a cellar, crawl space, or closet) and when storing opened ice wine, a refrigerator or dedicated wine cooler.
Unopened ice wine also needs to be stored on its side, not moved around often, and kept at a consistent temperature of not more than 59 degrees F. Opened ice wine needs to be properly sealed and kept in a refrigerator or wine cooler, in which case it will last successfully for several weeks.
Ice wine is a delicious digestif and a lovely dessert wine, but how long can it last? The answer depends on whether the bottle of ice wine is open or not and how it is stored.
It is always true that wine of better quality will last longer, but there are also things you can do to preserve your wine. Some simple hacks will ensure you store your ice wine perfectly at any price-point. Read below for specific tips and tricks and overall best practices when storing ice wine.
TIP: If you want to check out the best refrigerator for wine storage, I recommend trying out Nutrichef (18 bottles) compressor wine refrigerator. You can find this refrigerator by clicking here (Amazon link).
How to Store Ice Wine after Opening
Store opened Ice wine in the refrigerator in order to keep it cold so that the oxidation process (the process of air getting to the wine) will slow down. You can also use a Coravin or a wine preservation device, a device that restores argon gas back into your wine. These devices preserve wine for future use in the next week, the next month, and sometimes even the next year.
As soon as you open any bottle of wine it begins to oxidize and change. Sometimes this process of aerating (getting oxygen to the wine) is a necessity. For example, many red wines and some heavier whites need to breathe.
When you want to preserve an opened bottle of ice wine, however, you want to slow down this process. Leave your bottle of ice wine open for as little time as possible.
After opening and pouring, put the cork back in immediately. This will limit the exposure of the wine to outside oxygen and slow down the oxidation process.
If you have a fourth of a bottle left go ahead and finish it! Why? If you can share the wine with a friend or finish the bottle yourself, you don’t have to risk storing the wine with a bad outcome. Go ahead and enjoy it!
TIP: Once you pop the cork, most wines go bad within a day or so. But a Coravin Wine Preservation system (available for a great price on Amazon) can extend the life of your opened wine for weeks or even months. It is awesome. You should check it out and see if it will fit into your lifestyle.
Proper Way to Store Ice Wine
The proper way to store ice wine is in a dark, cool location that does not have high fluctuations in temperature. This can include a pantry away from electrical appliances that put off heat and vibrations, a cellar, a wine cooler, or even a crawl space.
Why store ice wine away from electrical appliances? Some wine experts believe that the multiple appliances in a kitchen can put off vibrations (and heat) that will hinder wine.
This is not a proven concept. However, refrigerators and stove tops put out a considerable amount of heat. Never store wine racks on top of your refrigerator as some people do for decoration. This can be disastrous for your wine, especially ice wine.
Does Ice wine need to be refrigerated?
Ice wine needs to be refrigerated after it has been opened. If you have opened bottle of ice wine, it will last several weeks in the refrigerator with the top sealed. Since ice wine is a fortified wine with high sugar content, ice wine will keep in the refrigerator easily after opening.
TIP: Many people worry if wine refrigerators are noisy and thus more appropriate for a garage. In this article, you’ll see that these concerns are mostly unfounded. This is a great article we wrote that will put your mind at ease.
How long does Ice Wine last after opening?
Ice wine will last several days after opening if sealed properly because it is actually a wine where a distilled spirit (in almost all cases brandy) has been added to it. This is provided you keep in the refrigerator or a dedicated wine cooler at 50-59 degrees F.
In order to safely store most wines after opening, including white, red, sparkling, and fortified wines such as ice wine, they must be stored properly.
For example, keeping your wine in a warm area with large temperature fluctuations (more than 10-15 degrees F) is bad for the wine. You may think your basement is a great place to store your ice wine, but if you monitor its temperature, you may find the temperature is not consistent at all.
How to Store Unopened Ice Wine?
Store your ice wine bottles somewhere cold and dark. Preferably in a cellar or closet, or a 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 crawl space 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.
A good rule you want to follow for properly storing your ice wine is to keep it in the dark. UV rays from the sun are bad for ice wine over a period of time. The UV rays will break down the structure of the wine.
You can make sure your ice wine stays in the dark by storing it in a covered wine cooler and keeping the cooler somewhere dark. Or if you have a dedicated room in your house, this will do the job. A crawl space in a home is another great option since it is a place with no windows.
Another important factor to consider when aging your ice wine is to age it somewhere with relatively high humidity. High humidity prevents the corks in the bottles of ice wine from breaking down unnecessarily.
You also want to prevent them from being moved frequently (or at all). Moving the bottles of ice wine will break up the delicate chemical compounds of the wine, which will hurt the aging process.
There is also a proper way for ice wine bottles to be oriented while aging. All wines should be stored horizontally on its side. Allowing a bottle of wine to lie on its side will allow the cork to stay moist enough for a couple of years.
TIP: I wrote a complete breakdown of why sunlight is very bad for your wine you should check it out if you want to learn more.
Does Ice Wine go bad if unopened?
Ice wine will not go bad if unopened as long as you allow it to sit relatively still when aging it (avoid moving bottles around as this agitates the wine ),keep it in the refrigerator short-term, and allow the wine to sit on its side – allowing the liquid to come into contact with the cork.
These three tricks will ensure that your ice wine does not go bad. Let’s look at two of these tips in more detail. If you constantly move your wine bottles around this speeds up maturation. It is also important, as mentioned above, to store the ice wine in a dark place, as ultraviolet rays compromise the wine.
It is fine to keep ice wine in the refrigerator short-term for the purpose of positive storage if that is your only option aside from a hot room. However, the wine will not be allowed to evolve, as the cooler temperatures will slow down or even stop the process. But, it won’t allow the wine to go bad and turn into vinegar either!
How long can ice wine last unopened?
Some ice wines can last for 20 – 30 years! This is of course under perfect conditions, many of which we have listed above – such as keeping it in a cool and dark space, storing it on its side, and keeping it consistently still and temperature controlled.
TIP: If you are interested in learning more about how wine ages, please check out this helpful article we wrote. Additionally, you may be a lover of cheap wine like I am. If you are, this article will help you determine which cheap wines should be aged and which ones should be drunk immediately.
Under perfect conditions ice wine can last for years. Also impacting the length of time ice wine will last is the quality, the vintage, and the grapes used.
The better the wine the longer it will last. Ice wine is a dessert wine and also a fortified wine. These tend to store well because of their residual sugars and lively acidity.
Of course, you won’t know if your ice wine is still drinkable after storage until you open it. If it smells like vinegar it is likely spoiled.
An opened bottle of ice wine can last several weeks if sealed properly in the refrigerator, as mentioned above, which is a good thing because of the nature of ice wine. It is typically enjoyed in small quantities.
TIP: For a complete list of wine products and accessories I really love, check out this page. You’ll find my recommendations for wine refrigerators, decanters, and aerators and the best place to buy wine online. Click here to see the complete listing.