Tom's blog

Waiter, there's ice in my wine

I was dining with an old friend the other night at her community association's club house. As soon as she walked up to the bar, the waiter had a glass of her house chardonnay waiting for her -- as she liked it, with ice.

She's not the first person I have encountered who puts ice in their wine. It makes me cringe on behalf of the winemaker who spent time and money balancing his wine. The addition of water disrupts that balance and more accurately dilutes it.

Then, I read an article in Vogue that says many wine professionals have come around to the idea that ice is appearing more often in wine glasses. Some wine producers, such as Moet & Chandon, are even marketing wines that invite the use of ice.  If you can't lick them, join them?

The practice is quite common in southern France where vacationers can be seen in outdoor bistros enjoying a glass of rose on the rocks. Rose is a simple drink and I guess is like sangria where ice cubes are common.  But I can't imagine anyone adding ice to, say, a white burgundy, whose nuances would be destroyed by cold water.

There have been rare occasions when I have slipped an ice cube into a glass of wine -- one cube to cool a chardonnay that is simply too warm to enjoy.  I theorized that I'll finish it before the cube melts, but that's probably me rationalizing a bad decision.  If you want to quickly cool a white wine, you can slip the bottle into the freezer for 10 minutes, or use one of those handy freezer jackets -- I keep three of them in my freezer.

Maybe ice doesn't matter to cheap plonk that has become your house wine. I mean, it's not as if you re-analyze that same old wine during the daily happy hour. But if you just spent $50 on a great chardonnay, or if you are swilling a host's expensive wine, don't embarrass yourself.