So you didn't chill that albariño, and now you're contemplating throwing some ice cubes in your glass. A bit of a faux pas? Maybe. Something your aunt does with her Costco wine? Likely. Here's the lowdown on adding ice to your wine.
What Happens When You Add Ice to Wine?
Adding ice to your wine chills the wine down quickly, but it also gradually dilutes it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just depends what wine you are drinking and what you are aiming to do. If you have a Meursault or similar, you are going to want to chill it properly and skip the ice cubes, as they will dilute the aromas, taste, and tones of the wine. Drinking a wine too cold will mute its delicate aromas and notes. However, if you have a simple wine that isn't particularly complex, and you are looking for a chill factor or for a light apéritif style drink, ice cubes can be the perfect addition.
When to Add Ice to Your Wine
While there is a lot of stigma when it comes to throwing a handful of ice cubes into your wine glass, at the end of the day, there is a time and place for that extra cold and icy wine dripping in condensation.
It's Extra Hot Out
If you're drinking a white or rosé in the sunny summer heat, it warms up quickly regardless of having been cold at the start. These poolside, day-drinking situations are the perfect moments to pull out a tray of ice and splash a few cubes into your glass. Plus, the slow dilution of the wine isn't a bad thing when you're out in the afternoon heat and attempting to stay hydrated.
You're Drinking Subpar Wine
Drinking a very mediocre wine that's not so smooth? It happens. Maybe it's a picnic, and all that's available is boxed pinot gris, or maybe you're at the airport impatiently awaiting your next flight. If a wine is particularly sharp, unbalanced, or harsh, adding a few ice cubes can mellow it out and make it a bit more palatable.
You Want to Keep Things Light
When you want that barely there savory berry flavor with a splash of alcohol, but you're also looking to stay hydrated and not get tipsy, adding ice to your wine is the move. This works best with already low alcohol rosés, or whites that retain some acidity while they gradually become diluted. It becomes a very pleasant apéritif of sorts.
Another Alternative: The Saltwater Ice Bath
If ice cubes don't quite fit with your wine or the occasion, but you need to chill the bottle down in a hurry, give a saltwater ice bath a try. Why add the salt? Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so saltwater can become much colder than just plain water, ultimately chilling your wine faster. Creating an ice bath with plenty of water to cover the bottle, and adding a cup or two of salt is the fastest way to chill a bottle quickly. Expect to have your wine chilled and ready within 10 minutes or less if you are agitating the bottle within the salt ice bath.
To Ice or Not to Ice?
If you're wanting something extra cold or leaning into an apéritif of sorts, adding ice cubes to your wine can be the way to go. If you've got a real gem of a wine and want to experience it to its fullest, best to stick with a proper ice bath to get it down to temp. At the end of the day, adding ice cubes to your wine is a personal preference, so you do you.