Ice in Wine

Ice in Wine

10th July 2023

Ice in Wine: A Refreshing Twist or a Wine Lover's Faux Pas?

Wine has long been associated with sophistication and a certain level of ritual. From the uncorking to the swirling and sniffing, wine appreciation is an art in itself. However, over time, traditions and preferences change, and new trends emerge. One such trend that has sparked debates among oenophiles is the practice of adding ice to wine. While some argue it's a refreshing twist that enhances the drinking experience, others consider it a sacrilegious act that compromises the integrity of the wine. In this article, we will delve into the concept of ice in wine, exploring its pros and cons and its place in the world of wine.

The Origins of Adding Ice to Wine

To understand the tradition of adding ice to wine, we must turn the pages of history. The concept of chilling wine can be traced back to ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans, for instance, often chilled their wine by placing it in snow or mixing it with chilled water, especially during the scorching summers. In those times, wine was often concentrated and had higher alcohol content, making it necessary to dilute and cool it for a more enjoyable drinking experience.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and we find modern iterations of this ancient practice in the form of ice in wine. This trend gained popularity in various parts of the world, including Mediterranean regions, where people enjoy a glass of chilled wine to beat the heat.

Critics' Concerns: Diluting the Essence

While the concept of adding ice to wine may have its merits, there are staunch critics who argue against the practice. For them, wine is an expression of art and craftsmanship, where each bottle represents the labor and expertise of the winemaker. Diluting the wine with ice is seen as compromising its true essence and the intended flavour profile.

Furthermore, certain wine varieties, such as full-bodied red wines, are meant to be served at specific temperatures to fully appreciate their complexity and structure. Adding ice to these wines can mask their subtleties and dampen their intended impact. Wine purists argue that investing in proper chilling techniques, such as using a wine refrigerator or an ice bucket, is the way to go, as it ensures the desired temperature without diluting the wine.

The Trend and Its Supporters

Over the last decade, the trend of adding ice to wine has grown significantly, particularly among the younger demographic. One of the main reasons behind its popularity is the accessibility and affordability it offers. Chilling wine with ice can be an economical way to enhance lower-quality wines or mask off-flavors, making it a budget-friendly option for many.

Moreover, the practice of adding ice to wine has also paved the way for experimentation and innovation within the wine industry. Winemakers have started producing specific wine blends and labels designed to be enjoyed over ice, catering to the growing demand for this style of consumption.

Cultural and Regional Influences

Adding ice to wine has a strong cultural connection in certain regions. For instance, Spain and Portugal have their own variations of wine-based cocktails, such as "Tinto de Verano" and "Sangria," both of which typically contain ice. These beverages are celebrated for their refreshing and casual appeal, making them ideal companions for social gatherings, especially in hot weather.

In other parts of the world, such as France and Italy, adding ice to wine has not traditionally been a common practice, as these countries emphasise the integrity of the wine's flavour profile. The French, in particular, take great pride in their wine culture and are known for their strict adherence to traditional wine consumption practices.

Wine Cocktails and Blends

While the traditional approach to wine may frown upon dilution, the practice of adding ice has given rise to a new realm of creativity – wine cocktails and blends. By combining wine with various mixers, fruits, and even spirits, one can create delightful concoctions that cater to personal preferences and expand the horizons of wine enjoyment.

Sangrias, for example, often feature wine mixed with fruits, soda, and ice. The ice not only helps maintain a cool temperature but also adds a touch of visual appeal. Similarly, wine spritzers and wine-based cocktails have gained popularity, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of wine when combined with ice and other ingredients.

Pairing Wine with Ice

The controversy surrounding ice in wine also extends to the type of wine that can be paired with ice. While it is generally accepted that inexpensive, easy-drinking wines benefit from the cooling effect, there are debates about whether higher-quality wines should be subjected to the same treatment. Traditionalists argue that complex, aged wines with nuanced flavours should be savoured at the recommended serving temperature to fully appreciate their characteristics.

However, some adventurous wine enthusiasts have embraced the idea of experimenting with various wine styles and temperatures. They argue that certain lighter-bodied white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, can benefit from a touch of chill, enhancing their crispness and refreshing qualities. Additionally, some rosé and red wines, with their fruity and vibrant profiles, are often enjoyed over ice to further accentuate their bright flavours.

Alternatives to Ice

There is also an option to use different alternatives to ice to cool down the wine without diluting. For example, you could consider using whiskey stones (stainless steel ice cubes), frozen fruit such as grapes and more! 

Tips for Enjoying Wine with Ice

If you decide to venture into the world of adding ice to wine, here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Choose the right wine: Opt for wines that are suitable for chilling, such as crisp white wines, light-bodied rosés, or fruity reds. Avoid highly complex or aged wines, as the chilling effect can mask their subtle flavours. Avoid heavily oaked wines, as the ice will accentuate the tannin. 
  2. Quality matters: While it is acceptable to enjoy affordable wines over ice, try to select those with decent quality to ensure a more enjoyable experience.
  3. Don't overdo it: Avoid excessive amounts of ice that may dilute the wine excessively, altering its taste and texture. A few cubes or a chilled wine glass can be sufficient to achieve the desired cooling effect.
  4. Experiment with garnishes: Enhance the visual appeal and flavour complexity by adding complementary garnishes, such as citrus slices, berries, or fresh herbs. These additions can provide an extra layer of aroma and taste.
  5. Be open-minded: Appreciate that wine is a versatile beverage, and everyone's taste preferences differ. Embrace the diversity of wine consumption and respect others' choices, whether they include ice or not.


Ultimately, the decision to add ice to wine comes down to personal preference and the context in which it is being consumed. Casual gatherings, outdoor events, and hot summer days may call for a cooler glass of wine, while formal occasions and tastings may require a more traditional approach. While purists may cringe at the thought, the practice of adding ice has gained traction among those seeking a refreshing twist or experimenting with wine cocktails.