Using Ice Cubes to Chill a Wine :
Temps for Serving / Storing Wine
Some wine drinkers think that ice cubes in wine are the ultimate evil. But others add ice as a matter of course, especially in the summer.
If you go to hot regions of the world, for example Spain or Italy, you'll find that many people routinely add ice cubes to wine. Even if the wine comes out of a wine fridge, if you're sitting in the 95 degree sun, it's going to heat up very quickly. The only way you give the wine a chance of staying drinkably cool until the glass is empty is adding a bit of ice.
Sure, this isn't done with a $500 bottle of Chateau Latour - but you're usually not drinking that in blasting heat. Usually that sort of wine is drunk in a temperature controlled room, and hopefully out of Riedel glassware. In that case, ice cubes aren't really necessarily.
Do the ice cubes dilute the wine? Sure, a bit. But wine is mostly water anyway, and you're balancing your penalties here. On one hand, it adds a bit more water. On the other hand, it keeps the temperature at a reasonable range. I can't tell you how many wines I've drunk that were totally ruined because they were too hot. That alcoholy, nasty flavor that a warm wine gets can completely destroy any nice flavor a wine has. To me, I'd rather have the wine have a few percentage points more water than normal and stay at the proper temperature.
What are the other options? Well, you can hide inside in AC all the time. For me that's not a good option, I love the outdoors. I enjoy sitting on my back porch and watching the birds. You can keep the bottle on ice - but that doesn't really help the glass you are drinking, unless you glug it.
There ARE plastic ice cubes out there, in a variety of cool shapes. You keep them in the freezer and pull out a few when you need them. This will keep the wine cool without diluting it at all. The plastic of course won't harm the flavors of the wine. Many wineries use plastic cork nowadays without any problem, and some even pack their wines in plastic bags.
Are you worried about how the wine will look or what others will think? If so, it's time to change your focus. Wine is about how YOU enjoy it. You should choose the wines YOU like and drink them in ways that please YOUR palate. Any time you start altering your wine drinking habits to impress others, you're going to lose out. It's your tongue, after all - not theirs.
So sure, if you're in a temperature controlled environment where the wine won't get warm, drink it from a shaped glass and enjoy it. But if it's a hot environment, don't turn your nose up at a few cubes. If you keep it hot to avoid the dilution, you might find far more harm from the heat than the water could ever cause
Wine in a Snowstorm
Cooling Wine in your Freezer
Using Ice Cubes to Chill a Wine
Wine Basics Main Page