Diluting wine is common practice in many of the warmer parts of Europe and South America. Photo: Jessica Shapiro
Is it OK to put ice cubes into wine?
Consenting adults can put ice cubes into anything they like, in private, wine included. If you consider this heresy, or if you're already muttering "bogan" through gritted teeth, you're not alone - there are plenty of people who regard adding ice to wine as a faux pas on a par with eating peas from your knife. I am not among them.
However, I do have a couple of caveats. I say "in private" because I'd generally look askance at a restaurant adding ice to a glass of wine, unless it was at the diner's request, or for some other special reason.
But at home? Out by the barbecue on a sultry afternoon, the glass of wine that was perfectly chilled and crisp at first sip can turn warm and flabby in a matter of minutes. You could prevent this by draining your glass with the speed and fervour of a dying man in a desert but you are certain to feel like the gentleman in question as soon as dehydration sets in. Adding a judicious ice cube or two as the wine warms up is surely the lesser of two evils.
There are those who say adding ice is an affront to the winemaker, who has gone to considerable effort to craft the wine's length, breadth and mouthfeel, a balance that will be changed by the addition of water. True - but then again, the winemaker probably doesn't want his or her wine drunk at the temperature of bathwater.
If you're concerned about tinkering with the nuances of a good wine, add just one or two large cubes briefly. Fish them out as soon as the wine returns to the desired temperature and before the ice melts. I've seen winemakers do this, so I don't see why you shouldn't.
Or you could try reusable ice cubes, although I am yet to do so and hear mixed reports on their effectiveness.
If your wine is the kind of easygoing quaffer that never had much subtlety in the first place, feel free to leave the ice in. Diluting wine is a long-established and common practice in many of the warmer parts of Europe and South America, especially with whites and roses of relatively humble provenance.