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Pour decision? Why rosé with ice is not the faux pas you’ve been told it is

Rosé All Day: The ultimate guide to sipping in style (Yes, ice is welcome!)
Rosé All Day: The ultimate guide to sipping in style (Yes, ice is welcome!) Copyright Credit: Anna Ivanova
Copyright Credit: Anna Ivanova
By David Mouriquand
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Debate rages every summer about ice cubes in wine. Here’s why the controversy around rosé on the rocks needs to be dispelled and why you shouldn't fear the "piscine".

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What could be more refreshing and relaxing on a warm summer afternoon than a nice, chilled glass of rosé?

And what could be more annoying than a so-called wine specialist who daydreams of being a Sommelier record scratching your moment of vino-based bliss by trotting out a long list of rules and cardinal sins, the central one being “No ice in wine.”

Yes, according to experts, ice cubes, even in rosé, are a big no-no. Wine on the rocks means risking jeopardizing the taste, watering down the body of the wine, and cementing your social status as an “amateur”.

Recently, UK retail company M&S released its first #WineWorries ‘Mythbusting’ Report, which looks to debunk the most common wine myths and misconceptions. This is especially interesting as far as rosé goes, since sparkling rosé was crowned the UK’s most popular type of pink drink. The report highlighted that purists are ruining rosé, as most people consider it to be a summer drink, and only one in five think it’s acceptable to put ice cubes in a glass of rosé to cool it down.

The report also showed that one in 10 wine drinkers believe all rosé is made by mixing white and red, but we'll park that one for the time being, and instead dispel a few rumours before they fester into facts.

 Rosé wine glasses and bottles on a table
Rosé wine glasses and bottles on a tableCredit: Canva Images

Not only is rosé completely appropriate for any season of the year and not just summer – this received wisdom of “summer = rosé season” has only burrowed itself into psyches with the development of summer tourism – it’s also untethered to a golden moment which seems to be aperitif. The adage goes that it’s red with meat, white with fish and rosé to start. But rosé is a versatile wine that works as an accompaniment to various meals and pairings, especially seafood, cheeses and any spicy dish that punishes your taste buds a bit too much.

And now comes the ice cube debate. This next part is for the other four out of five.

Stop holding onto age-old cultural construct and finally break a stuffy taboo by embracing the fact that ice in wine is not the uncouth faux-pas many would have you believe.

No one is denying that rosé needs to be chilled. It tastes better, and in an ideal world, you need to serve rosé between 8° and 10°C, with a minimum amount of 2 hours in the fridge before you uncork that nectar.

But in fact, serving wine after that duration in the cooler can mute its aromas and weaken the taste. All you need is 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator and a couple of ice cubes for the ideal glass of rosé.

A rosé spritz with ice
A rosé spritz with ice Credit: Canva Images

The French call it a “piscine” (swimming pool), and while it’s perfectly understandable that the thought of diluted wine is heresy, a few cubes won’t, as convention dictates, spoil or mask the character of your wine. Not only will the expected aromas still be there, it’s a quick and effective solution to a wine that’s too warm.

No one is suggesting that ice works with every wine. Ice works best with refreshing styles of wine, so you’d do well to avoid most dry whites and oaky reds. That said, a bit of ice in certain reds can enhance their fruitiness.

But when it comes to rosé, that wine is a law unto itself. A renegade. A soldier of fortune. It’s the A-Team of the wine world, if you will, and standing in its way or depriving it of some well-earned cooling cubes will only result in tears.

There are added perks.

Your rosé from Provence is too fruity or that Zinfandel is too sweet? Ice.

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Those floral notes from the South of France are getting to you? Ice.

That Côtes du Rhône has a much deeper flavour than you were expecting? Well, don’t pick a Côtes du Rhône.

Plus, if it’s warm out, and adding a few cubes can take the edge off, thereby allowing you to indulge in a couple more glasses without that niggling feeling that you’re overdoing it again.

Not convinced?

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Well, fear not, there are gateway cubes to get you cooler.

Sparkling rosé served with ice
Sparkling rosé served with iceCredit: Canva Images

There are reusable ice cubes that you can pop in your glass if you haven’t been won over by the “dilution isn’t that big of a deal” argument.  But no one likes bits of plastic floating around in there, and they do tend to feel a little funny when their collide with your mouth. To each their own.

One hack which routinely does the rounds online is filling an ice cube tray with rosé and adding those cubes to your glass, thereby ensuring that the inevitable melt will provide concordant flavours.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that when wine freezes, the organic chemical compounds crystallise and that alters the flavour of the wine once thawed. Hence why you don’t want to risk forgetting a bottle in the freezer.

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So, do yourself a favour and stick with ice cubes.

Still on the fence?

Speaking on his podcast last year, David Chang, the two-Michelin-starred American chef and star of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, admitted that whenever he puts ice in his wine it “tastes like gold”. He told his listeners that wine is just a drink and not a “cultural artefact”, stressing that it was important to concentrate on drinking something that was refreshing. Chang also claimed that a cube of ice improved the taste across the year, stating it wasn’t just for the summer months.

So, don’t just take it from us. Hear what the Michelin-starred chef has to say. Like him, ignore the traditional do’s and don’ts, stop wondering how you should drink rosé, and don't fear the "piscine". Life is too anxiety-triggering as it is, and no one needs wine-etiquette snobs and their preconceived ideas to complicate things further.

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You can stick by the few rules and pairings that make sense, and continue to appreciate the romantic notions surrounding wine. But wine, above all, is about pleasure and what tastes good to you.

Don’t overthink rosé. Drink and enjoy it. Responsibly.

It abides by no rules. And neither should you when it comes to ice cubes.

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