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Adding Ice to Wine?

Someone asked me this and I would love to be able to answer them. He is Greek and mentioned that in Greece, it's acceptable to put ice in wine, especially Moschato, to loosen it up and make it less syrupy and sweet. So, what do I tell him?

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  1. >>So, what do I tell him?<<

    "If it feels good, do it. But be prepared to encounter condescension and even disgust from other diners and drinkers."

    You might also encourage him not to make a practice of it with more exalted wines.

    8 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      So can I assume from this response that it is never acceptable, regardless of the type of wine? My question was more with regards to the Moschato, and any other examples if there are any, than to the social behaviours I should recommend he engage in.

      1. re: swissfoodie

        As far as I'm concerned, whatever your friend wants to do with his wine is acceptable. There are no rules governing wine consumption, and when in Rome...

        However, he should also be aware that many people will look askance at the practice and assume he's a boor for engaging in it. Aside from the occasional cube dropped into a warm glass of white or rosé and fortified/doctored wines like white port, vermouth, sangria and Pineau de Charentes, adding ice to fine wine is virtually unheard of in the west (though it wouldn't surprise me if some people in brutally hot climates, especially in locations without air conditioning, drink inexpensive wines that way).

        1. re: carswell

          Virtually unheard of? You musn't spend much time in the South in August. We put ice in everything. Just a little. It melts fast anyway.

          1. re: carswell

            All ports are fortified, not just white. Unless it was some kind of white port "spritzer" (common in Porto and not just the port on its own), I would never put ice cubes in good port.

            1. re: Luthien

              I think carswell meant that those specific fortified / flavored wines are commonly served with ice.

              Most white port seems intended to be made into spritzers.

          2. re: swissfoodie

            Regarding ice in Moschato, I've skimmed through *The Wines of Greece* and *The Oxford Companion to Wine* and done a cursory Web search all with no results. I also put the question to a Greek sommelier and wine importer here in Montreal, who replied: "Regarding the ice cubes, I think it's simply an easy way (read awful way) to cool down the wine. My theory is that if the Moscato in question needs to be 'loosened' up, I'm not so sure you should be drinking it in the first place! In any case [...] it is far from a 'tradtion' in Greece to do so, or at least no more than putting 7-Up in Retsina and calling it Champagne is (my aunts do this )."

            1. re: carswell

              Ice wasn't all that common in Greece until recently. Could be a relatively contemporary phenomenon.

              1. re: carswell

                Thanks for your investigation - I really appreciate being able to answer the question for him and myself

          3. In biblical times (Roman Empire included) it was considered bad taste not to mix wine with water. Actually, they made special vessels called kraters specifically for the (nowadays sacrilegious!) purpose.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krater

            2 Replies
            1. re: RicRios

              Yes, but Roman wine was more akin to our vinegar. (Another interesting factoid: women weren't allowed -- socially and at one point by decree -- to drink wine for much of Roman history.)

              In France, today, many parents will dilute wine for older children when introducing them to wine.

              1. re: RicRios

                One of the reasons Roman soldiers mixed wine with water has to do with sound scientific reasoning (i.e.: they were centuries ahead of their time!).

                No known human pathogen can live in wine. When adding wine to the local water, the soldiers would protect themselves from local water-borne diseases.

              2. I will admit that, like most Americans, as a norm we don't add ice to our wine. I will also admit to adding some ice when necessary: on an airplane, when a summer quaffer has warmed up too much, etc. The biggest detriment of adding ice to chill the wine, is that as the wine cools, it becomes watered-down thus diluting the flavor. Because it is usually not a fine wine that gets the ice, it is an acceptable trade-off.

                1. I regularly put an ice cube or two in red wine if it's served too warm (an unfortunately common problem in restaurants these days). The dilution's too slight to have a significant effect on the flavor. For a whole bottle I'll sometimes ask for an ice bucket.

                  A simple syrupy-sweet muscat vin doux, I see no problem in adding ice or a splash of water. Wine snobs who would look down on that will already be turning their fool noses up at the wine (delicious in its unpretentious way).

                  A fancy dessert wine such as a Sauterne, TBA riesling, or Tokaji Essencia, now that's another story. But again, if it were served too warm, I wouldn't hesitate to add an ice cube or two.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Isn't this what they call a wine spritzer? I have seen it done when i've been out at bars.

                    1. re: pancake

                      A wine spritzer is wine with soda.

                      I'm talking about just adjusting the wine myself at the table, typically with considerably less water.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      "I regularly put an ice cube or two in red wine if it's served too warm (an unfortunately common problem in restaurants these days). The dilution's too slight to have a significant effect on the flavor."

                      Me, too. It drives me batty to have red wine too warm. Even very nice restaurants often serve it the wrong temperature.

                    3. You see ice put into wine throughout Italy, and in Italian communities in the US, though my guess is it's rarely high-end wine.