When It’s OK to Add Ice to Your Glass of Wine, According to Experts

published Aug 26, 2023
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If you follow Martha Stewart on Instagram, you may have seen this recent Reel touting her 19 Crimes Chardonnay. Although the video is only a couple of seconds long, its contents sent her followers into a tizzy. The subject of everyone’s disapproval? A handful of ice cubes, added delicately to the glass with a pair of tongs. 

“No ice in wine!” exclaimed many people under the post. The comments sang out in unison condemning Martha’s technique. But of course it wouldn’t be a comment section without some opposing opinions, and a handful of people jumped to Martha’s defense, expressing their preference for wines chilled with ice. While one person claims you’d be laughed out of Europe for doing such a thing, another insists they’ve seen it done in Italy. 

I’ve certainly added ice to wine on more than a couple of occasions, albeit self-consciously, fearing that nearby wine snobs would chide me for my methods. So, is it really such a crime to introduce a cube or two to a glass of your favorite rosé? I decided it was time to consult the experts.

Is It Ever OK to Add Ice to Wine? 

Writer and Certified Sommelier Diane McMartin immediately eased my mind by assuring me that there is no wrong way to drink wine. “If you enjoy it more with a few ice cubes, go for it!” As for which types of wines to serve over ice, McMartin suggests lighter whites, rosés, and aromatized wines (fortified wines flavored with natural ingredients) like vermouth and Lillet, as they lend themselves to some extra chill and some dilution caused by the melting ice.

McMartin also clued me in to a French genre of drink called la piscine (translating to swimming pool) that is particularly popular in the South of France, in which Champagne, rosé, or white wine is served in large glasses over ice, sometimes with the addition of fruit or other fresh ingredients.

Not only does wine à la piscine stay refreshingly chilled in the hot summer sun, but it also slows down your alcohol consumption, which is ideal if you’re day drinking and prefer that your bedtime isn’t 4 p.m. It’s so popular to serve wine this way that producers have started making bottles specifically to be served over ice. Take Veuve Clicquot’s “Rich Collection” and Moët Chandon’s “Ice Impérial,” for example.

Food and beverage writer Mackenzie Filson echoed McMartin’s sentiment that there is certainly a time and place for iced wine. In fact, she grew up thinking this practice was completely normal, watching her “very Southern” aunts add a cube or two to their glass of Chardonnay. “I love icing both red and white wines, especially those on the lighter side (think: Pinot Noir/Pinot Grigio), or those fun sangria-ready Spanish reds.” She also suggests trying port wine over ice, or using it as the base of a spritz.

As for wines that don’t necessarily benefit from ice, Filson says although she’s a “solid $7 to $9 Trader Joe’s wine gal through and through,” for any bottles pricier than that, she skips the ice in order to taste the wine in its truest form. McMartin also suggests wine drinkers avoid icing full-bodied reds “because part of what makes those wines enjoyable is their density and concentration, so adding ice would dilute the wine’s defining characteristic.” Most importantly, she reiterates the following: “If you like it, enjoy it — and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.” Eat your heart out, Martha’s comment section!