Wine and Ice – Should You Do It?

If you speak to anybody who has a deep love for Italian wine, you’ll soon discover that they have a lot of opinions on how best to drink and serve the wine. Everything from the way that bottle is stored through to the type of glass that you pour it into has an effect on the wine.

Then, there are the more contentious issues. Some will tell you that the best wines can only come from a glass bottle. Others will tell you that using anything other than a cork to seal the bottle is sacrilege.

So, you can imagine the sort of outrage that comes out of some sectors of the wine industry when anybody suggests adding ice to a glass of wine.

Despite this, it has become a fairly common practice, especially in countries outside of Italy. Here, we’re going to take a look at this phenomenon and whether or not it’s something that you might consider doing yourself.

The Case For

Those who make the case for adding ice to wine will often tell you that the somewhat exclusive nature of the opinion that you shouldn’t do it is what drives them to do it in the first place.

There are plenty of people who don’t like to follow the supposed “rules” of drinking wine. They see them as stuck-up and will argue that you should be able to drink wine in whatever way you find most enjoyable.

For these people, adding a little bit of ice to a glass of white wine can make the drink even more refreshing. This makes the practice particularly appealing for those who enjoy a brief aperitif after a stressful day. It may also sound wonderful to those who live in hot countries and prefer their drinks cool enough to help them counter the stiflingly warm climate.

Some also point to the ancient ways of doing things as proof that adding ice to wine is not such a big deal. For example, there are plenty of ancient texts that suggest that both the Greeks and the Romans preferred to dilute their wines with water. If they engaged in the practice way back when, the tradition argument suddenly becomes less powerful. After all, how can you argue that tradition is the reason that you shouldn’t add ice to wine when people have been doing it for thousands of years?

The watering down aspect of the practice may also prove appealing for other reasons. They are sure to be plenty of people who want to enjoy a glass of wine but perhaps don’t have the palettes for it. They may find the tastes too sharp or may not want to deal with a high alcohol content. Adding a few ice cubes to the wine offers a perfect solution in these cases. While it dilutes the wine, that may be exactly what the drinker is looking for.

Even so, there seems to be a general consensus even among those who don’t mind adding ice to wine that you should not do it with red wine. Reds tend to be best served at room temperature, rather than being chilled. Adding ice to these wines not only dilutes the contents, but it also leads to them being served at far too low a temperature than they perhaps should be.

But the general ideas is that adding ice to wine isn’t about trying to improve the taste. Instead, it’s done to make the wine more refreshing and to perhaps curtail some of the alcohol volume that may otherwise make the wine unpleasant to some people.

The Case Against

The issues of dilution is the main source of contention for those who make the case against adding ice to wine.

They argue that doing so completely alters the texture of the wine to the point where it is no longer the drink that the producer intended it to be.

There’s certainly a sound logic to this. People try to limit a wines exposure to oxygen to ensure that the wine doesn’t lose its shape and overall consistency. Adding ice is equivalent to adding water to the wine. Not only do you dilute the flavours, but you’re also essentially adding oxygen to the wine, which further changes its chemical composition. Add hydrogen into the mix and you’re altering the wine far beyond what the producer originally intended.

There is also the previously mentioned traditionalist argument. The existence of the Barolo Wars and the issues caused by the introduction of the Super Tuscans demonstrate just how seriously Italian people take tradition when it comes to wine. Adding ice to wine is considered sacrilege just because it’s not been done for centuries. Even if the Romans and Greeks used water to dilute their wines, many would argue that it’s simply not to be done because it’s not a part of the traditional makeup of the Italian wine industry.

What Should You Do?

So, should you add ice to wine?

The true answer is that it all depends on what you want from your wine. You may not put much stock into all of the tradition that surrounds the wine industry, which means you don’t have an automatic dislike of the idea of adding ice to wine. In that case, you may want to experiment to see if you like it. Of course, it’s also possible to make cocktails using wine, so you’d probably use ice in those situations.

Ice can certainly make a glass of white wine more refreshing. Plus, it dilutes the alcohol volume of the wine. Some may find this desirable, especially if they intend to drink multiple glasses of wine and don’t wish to become intoxicated.

Even so, there will always be those who argue against the practice, perhaps without even having tried it themselves. They see the very thought as an insult to the winemakers who’ve worked so hard to create such amazing wines.

Don’t allow such thoughts to influence your own though. Drinking wine is a personal experience and it’s up to you how you do it.


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