Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I forgot to chill a white wine before dinner, so I added ice cubes made with alkaline water. Did that change the character of the wine?
—Linda, Greenfield, Minn.
Is it OK to add a cube of ice or three to a warm glass of wine? Absolutely. Will it change the taste? A little bit! Most white wines are typically served chilled, at about 40° to 50° F; check out our handy guide to wine serving temperatures for a more detailed summary. When white wine is served on the warmer side, the alcohol can stick out, but if it’s too cold, the flavors and aromas can become muted or less expressive.
Ice cubes are useful in a pinch to cool down a warm glass of wine, but the wine will become diluted as the cubes melt, so in that sense, yes, the character of the wine does change as it gets watered down. As far as the specific impact of ice cubes made from alkaline water, the difference would be pretty negligible in terms of a comparison with ice cubes made from regular tap water. Alkaline water has a pH of around 8 or 9, compared with the neutral pH of 7 in tap water, and wine has an acidic pH of around 3 or 4, so yes, alkaline ice cubes will change the pH of the wine more than regular ice cubes would, but regardless of which type of ice cube you use, you would notice that the wine was tasting watered down long before you noticed that the pH was changing.