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Ask Dr. Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.




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Dear Dr. Vinny,

We enjoy good white wines, particularly from France. I spend a fair amount on my wine and like my guests to enjoy it when we entertain. My mother-in-law and a cousin insist on putting ice in wine that has come from the refrigerator. I have tried saying things like, “You know, I have chilled this,” but to no avail. Should I just suck it up as the host?

—Hugh F., Bethesda, Md.

Dear Hugh,

I think so! It could be that your family started putting ice in their wine to cool it off, and then they just developed a taste for it—either how cold it gets or how the ice dilutes the flavor, or both. I don’t make it a practice, but I’ve been known to transfer a couple of ice cubes from my water glass to my wine glass on a hot day, or if a red wine seems too warm to my taste. Sure, some folks might be shocked by that, but I don’t pay them any mind.

As you know, ice can dilute a wine’s flavor, but these days there are reusable ice cubes that are made of either soapstone or stainless steel. Maybe you can get a set and the next time your guest reaches for the ice cubes, you can ask them to give the reusable ones a shot and see if they like it, explaining that they will chill the wine without watering it down. Otherwise, being a good host means letting your guests enjoy their wine the way they wish, with a smile.

—Dr. Vinny

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