Is it ever okay to put ice in wine?

Wednesday, 22 December, 2021
Wine Enthusiast, Chrissie Mcclatchie
Jacques Tranier used to believe that putting ice in wine was sacrilege. But one hot August night in a bar on the Côte d’Azur, the managing director of the Vinovalie winemaking cooperative in Southwest France witnessed something revelatory.

“Two women were [each] drinking a glass of rosé full of ice cubes,” says Tranier. He was intrigued. “It seemed fresh and new enough to be interesting.” 

On the sun-drenched terraces of the French Riviera, it’s customary to add an ice cube or two to a glass of crisp, salmon-hued Provence rosé. In fact, it’s not unusual to find what’s called a piscine on the menu, a large glass of rosé or white wine served over a generous scoop of ice cubes.

What may be custom in one place, however, is far from standard elsewhere, and putting ice cubes in wine is divisive. For some, it’s heresy; for others, a habit, a way to quickly cool down a lukewarm glass of white or rosé wine or add extra chill on a hot day. 

Instant gratification comes at an expense, though. As the ice melts, wine dilutes and its chemical equilibrium starts to change. 

“As winemakers, we spend a lot of time and energy coaxing structure and aromas out of the grapes and preserving the freshness of wines, so it’s a shame to have that lost by dilution when the ice melts into the wine,” says Andrew Wilson, winemaker at Goose Ridge Winery in Washington. “For nice, expressive wines, this can have a dramatic effect.”

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Ice in your wine, anyone?
Ice in your wine, anyone?

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