Each summer, the wine writing world produces articles about and lists of “picnic wines”, “summer wines”, “poolside wines”, “Labor Day wines”, etc,
I’d like to propose the category of “ice cube wines” as an all-year category.
I use this term to refer to wines that need to be poured over ice cubes because that improves their taste – both through chilling and dilution.
I’ve put a cube or chunk of ice in a glass of wine now and then to improve its flavors. Some wines benefit from some dilution or cooling. So I’m not above the practice and I certainly have no problem when people chose to drink their wines this way.
Certain wines, though, seem to be made to be “ice cube wines”. Red, white or pink, they are soft, flabby and cloyingly sweet by themselves but improve with some cooling and diluting.
I’m inclined to believe that there are less bad, technically flawed, wines these days. There are different styles of wines – each with its own place and purpose – and groups of fans. From a broader perspective, however, some styles are still superior to and finer than others, regardless of the rubric applied or degree of commercial success.
But if seeking to debate the superiority of one style of wine over another is a masochistic enterprise, can we frame the discussion in terms of determining the legitimacy of a particular style of wine?
The question before us is: are ice cube wines a legitimate, valid style of wine? The fact is that people do consume these kinds of wines in this very manner. But, many think of ice cube wines as inferior or “not serious” wine.
Ultimately, wine is a finished product, not an ingredient or precursor. You buy it, you open it, you pour it and you drink it. A legitimate style of wine, then, is one that stands best by itself and is optimal when enjoyed without mixing or other manipulations. I propose that as the sole criterion for determining legitimacy of a wine type (for this discussion only).
An intervention is an adulteration which at least changes, but more often diminishes the style: Sparkling wines are not intended to be consumed flat and putting Bordeaux into fruit punch is a practice even those without an appreciation for wine’s intricacies can recognize as incomprehensible – if only from a financial perspective.
The main argument against ice cube wine as a legitimate wine style is that it needs intervention or altering by the vast majority of consumers (neophytes and experts) to make it more appealing and preferable to its straight-out-of-the-bottle form.
It would seem that by that criterion, ice cube wines are doomed from the get-go. On an intellectual level, most people would agree that ice cube wines are disqualified because they need to be altered to be most enjoyable – regardless of the fact that some people prefer them as they are straight out of the bottle.
The only argument for ice cube wines as a legitimate style is simply this: given the choice, novices and experts alike, would more likely prefer these wines over ice and by themselves.
But that completely disrupts the paradigm.
What are your thoughts?
Are ice cube wines a legitimate wine style, despite the fact that they do not fit the definition of a legitimate wine style?
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