You put what in your wine?

You put what in your wine?

OK.  I might ruffle some feathers here but I want to talk about a very touchy subject in the wine world:


Looked upon with disdain by wine snobs, it’s still something that I am occasionally tempted to do in the dog days of summer. My Mom says this was something people did all the time when she was younger, so what’s the big deal?

Some people love to do this all year round and others may not crack until the hottest days of the summer. Either way there are real reasons why you might NOT want to put ice in your wine.

Putting ice in your wine will eventually dilute it as the cubes melt into water. If you are drinking an affordable wine that is not very serious this may be worth it to you as the mercury reaches triple digits. When I am leading corporate or group tasting seminars people even tell me they prefer the diluted taste of wine. To each his own I guess but if you have invested a significant amount of money on a really nice bottle you might not want to ice it.

Instead of ice I suggest clients concentrate on serving the wine at proper temperature which might require placing the bottle (red or white) on ice or in the fridge for a short time. If you are not sure what the right serving temps are you’re in the right place.  White wines are best served at 45-55 degrees and red wines tend to be best around 64 degrees.   “But Laurie, what about serving red wine at room temperature” you inquire.  Good question but think about the room  where the wine lived before you adopted it, namely a wine cellar – dark and cool like a cave right?  That “room temperature” is what we mean.

When white wines are served too cold the flavors are locked in until it warms up so adding ice robs your wine of flavors. Red wines with firmer tannins will taste more bitter when on ice or too chilled.

I don’t want to rain on the “ice in the wine” parade so I will say that wines that are  fun, affordable and even a bit sweet would be my choice if you want to serve on ice. It is sometimes an Italian tradition to mix red wine with soda and serve over ice. White wine spritzers were all the rage in the seventies and some people still order them. I have even heard rumors that Mayor Bloomberg in NYC drinks his beer on ice.  However, for the rest of the fine wines out there I’m going to stick to serving (and drinking) my wines “neat” in a glass.

If you like wine with ice then forget the wine snobs and even my advice.   When we grow up with certain flavors, dishes or traditions they become part of our palate and we enjoy them for that reason.  Some people may raise an eyebrow at your icy wine but I assure you, most will be trying to decide whether it’s “ok” for them to do it too.