Pinot On Ice

This past fathers day was a hoot. We had four fine fathers gathered with their wives and children and grandchildren all in our newly renovated back yard. It was all good…Until I had to explain myself.

You see it was warm outside. And while a chilled rose and gewurztraminer were on the table, I wanted to drink something red. But it was just too damn hot to really appreciate it. So I did what I often do with red wine when it’s hot: I put ice cubes in the wine.

Oh my god!!!!!!  Ice cubes.

My family and in-laws who fancy me a "wine dude" were aghast. "you don’t put ice cubes in wine, let alone red wine, Mr. Wine dude!"

And this brings us to the ultimate question: What is wine for?

Is it for savoring under perfect condition so the wine’s nuances and complexity will show? Or is wine for drinking, plain and simple?


But pick your battles is my cry. Have you ever had a Pinot Noir on a hot day chilled down with a few cubes? The wine is cool, refreshing and quaffable. Yes, it loses some of its nuance (well, a lot of it), but who cares. Wine is here on earth for one reason: To make life more enjoyable. That’s it. There is no other reason. Make some up if you want, but they will all be lies and fabrications after you get past the "wine is for making life more enjoyable" explanation.

The iced pinot tasted great with the meatballs and warm day.

It’s going to start to get hot out there. It’s summer. You can go with the chilled Rose or white wine. But  give other variations a try: Pinot over ice with a lime wedge. Cabernet over ice with a teaspoon of sugar. Take a flabby Chard, ice it down, drop i a lemon wedge.

The other fathers were still a bit aghast when I explained this philosophy to them. I think I burst their bubble about my wine savvy reputation. I’ll fix that at thanksgiving when I blow their minds with a well aged sauvignon blanc or some champagne with fifteen years on it.

Until then, I’m icing the pinot whenever I damn want to.

9 Responses

  1. Greg - June 20, 2006

    You need to get yourself some fake plastic ice cubes so as to not dilute your drink.
    Head to your nearest wali world.

  2. matt - June 20, 2006

    even better — try an ice wine pinot noir from the okanagan valley of british columbia.

  3. wineguy - June 20, 2006

    If you put the ice in for a minute or two, swirl it around, and then take the ice back out the wine will be nicely chilled and hardly diluted at all.
    Kir is another nice combination — a little cassis in your white wine.
    Tell those people to open their minds a little!

  4. Tripp Fenderson - June 20, 2006

    We had family over for a Father’s Day cookout as well. It was around 91 degrees when I lit the charcoal on the grill.
    In a similar situation (wanting to enjoy red wine), I dropped a bottle of pinot noir into the cooler with the ice to the horror of more than one family member.
    15 minutes later, I pulled out a just barely chilled, smooth and refreshing pinot. Darned near perfect given the conditions of the day.
    Certainly not my preferred way of drinking a decent bottle of pinot – but it helped to beat the heat and was a nice compliment to the grilled chicken.
    Wine is for making life more enjoyable. So there.
    Great post Tom.

  5. Bill Wilson - June 21, 2006

    My father heard about the idea of chilling pinot noir from an experienced tour guide at the Robert Mondavi Winery. That guy preferred his pinot noir chilled. He would often ask for an ice bucket when in a restaurant and would be “corrected” by the staff. This guide simply informed them that since he was paying for the wine, he could drink it chilled, boiled, or any other way he wanted.
    I shocked some wine friends at a wedding reception last year when I dumped some warm pinot into a glass of ice. They thought I was nuts until I suggested they try it. To their surprise, it was quite acceptable.
    I don’t chill my pinot very often, but I’m certainly not afraid to do it when I’m in the mood and the weather is warm.

  6. Vintage T - June 21, 2006

    I had a wine producer–French–tell me once how she paired food with wine: First (she says) I pick the wine I feel like drinking, and then I pick the food I feel like eating.
    Wine is many things but it is most of all (as you state, Tom) a thing to be enjoyed. That includes red wine with fish, red wine with ice cubes, red wine in a bathtub–as long as it brings no harm to anyone and enjoyment to its user.

  7. Thomas Matthews - June 21, 2006

    Coincidentally, Harvey Steiman’s blog of June 16 on Wine Spectator Online featured the same “heresy”:
    A Little Ice Goes a Long Way
    Posted: 01:38 PM ET, June 16, 2006
    Some years ago I shocked a room full of Pinot Noir nuts by plunking an ice cube in my glass of red Burgundy.
    I guess great minds think alike.

  8. tom - June 21, 2006

    While I don’t think anyone is going to mistake my mind for Harvey’s anytime soon, the sentiment is appreciated. That said, the real question is, what’s the source of the water that made those cubes and were the cubes overmanipulated in the freezing process?

  9. Rob Cole - June 21, 2006

    I like to oak my cubes a little bit. I tried some sur lie cubes, but they weren’t that good really.

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