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Should you put ice cubes in wine?

Nothing is more refreshing than a cool glass of wine when the weather heats up – but what if your wine hasn't been in the fridge? We speak to our experts about whether ice is the answer, and give some alternative options too...

It is commonly believed that putting ice cubes in your wine is a faux pas; watering down and diluting the flavours of the wine.

In Decanter’s ‘Confessions of a Sommelier’ series, putting ice cubes into white wine was often cited as the ‘most annoying customer habit’.

‘My worst customer habit is when a guest asks for ice cubes to chill an expensive bottle of white Burgundy,’ said Maria Wallèn, speaking when she was head sommelier at London’s Coya.

In a recent survey of Decanter‘s Instagram followers, 75% said they would never put ice cubes in their wine.

However, several wineries have released wines intended to be served with ice, including Moët Ice Impérial Rosé NV launched in 2016 (see below), and Freixenet’s Ice Rosé.

In some Mediterranean countries, it is also becoming more common to be offered ice when served white or rosé wine on restaurant terraces.

Peter Richards MW said, ‘My take is: do whatever you want with your wine as long as it makes you happy! That’s what wine’s for, after all.

‘But, unless you’re drinking super-fast, the ice will melt and dilute the wine and it won’t taste as good.’

Alternative methods to putting ice in wine

Richards recommends putting a few grapes in your freezer instead, and then putting frozen grapes in your glass of wine.

‘If you pop these in your glass, it will chill the wine without diluting it.’

Many wine lovers argue that there are enough gadgets to help you chill wine in a hurry, so no need to dilute it unnecessarily with ice.

For example, the Corkcicle wine chiller, which you keep in your freezer, then slot into your wine bottle when you’re ready and it cools the wine as it pours.

‘A cool sleeve, such as the Le Creuset Cooler Sleeve, is less messy,’ said Matt Walls in his article on red wines to serve chilled. ‘Since most of these can be flattened, they can also be used as a cushion to keep decanters of red wine cool.’

If you’re at home, you can always put wine in your freezer. Wrap in a damp kitchen towel or cloth to speed it up, recommends Xavier Rousset MS – just make sure you then don’t forget it’s in there!

And finally, when organised enough to chill your wine in advance, Richards also said, ‘Don’t forget this applies to reds in warm weather too – stick them in the fridge for 20 mins before serving’.


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