Summer can often be a tricky time for serving wine outdoors. The intense summer heat can make it very difficult to keep wine at a decent serving temperature. Many people choose to switch from wine to beer or cocktails to avoid this problem, but I’ve found inspiration from some very unexpected sources that have encouraged me that its okay to drink your wine on the rocks.
While many wine snobs and inspiring wine enthusiasts cringe at the site of people (mainly parents and grandparents) putting ice into their glass of Chardonnay, I’ve abandoned criticizing people for drinking their wine on the rocks and here are a few reasons why:
1) “Drink What You Like and Like What You Drink.” ~ Robert Mondavi.
I’ve had the pleasure in my career of meeting and working with Michael Mondavi, son of famed wine maker and industry legend Robert Mondavi and founder of Michael Mondavi Family Wines and Folio Wine Partners. On one trip to California I participated in a golf outing with Michael. As the beverage cart pulled up to take our drink order Michael asked “Do you have any Sauvignon Blanc?” the waitress replied that they only had wine in the clubhouse bar, not in the cart. Michael asked if she would be kind enough to go back to the club house and bring a plastic cup filled with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and ice. He confirmed the order again making sure she heard him correctly.
“You really want a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the rocks?” she asked.
“Yes.” he replied. “Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite wine to drink. My dad always instructed people to drink what they like. He was a smart man and I like to follow his advice.”
Michael also mentioned that when he is grilling outside, he often will pour a glass of their Isabel Mondavi Deep Rosé over ice to drink while he cooks. He calls it “Isabel Rocks.”
Playing golf with Michael Mondavi and watching him drink a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the rocks with a straw is one of my favorite wine memories. Not to mention that I managed to make birdie, par, par during that 3 hole stretch..which turns out to be an occurrence even less common than famous winery owners putting ice in their wine.
2) Iron Chef Mario Batali: Aspen Food and Wine
Another defining moment in the defense of drinking wine with ice came from meeting celebrity chef Mario Batali at a book signing at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. After waiting in line for an autographed copy of his Italian Grill cookbook we had a moment to speak with him while he signed our books. As I looked at the table I noticed we was drinking a glass of an Italian white wine… out of a glass filled with ice! When I watched him pour more wine into the glass, I asked “Mario, are you really drinking your wine over ice?” He replied very simply, “Sure. How else am I going to keep it cold?”
I could have responded by suggesting an ice bucket, but his tone was so relaxed, casual and matter of fact that it was absolutely clear that he didn’t care. He was drinking the wine over ice because it was a simple pleasure.
He wasn’t worried about the ice watering down the flavor of the wine, because at this moment flavor was not important. His simple reply made it clear that he found no need in troubling anyone to set up an ice bucket or make any special arrangements. He was absolutely content enjoying a glass of wine with ice because it was a simple solution for a simple pleasure.
3) The Tincho.
There are very few wines that have the ability to remain a consistent best selling item year after year. However, at WineStyles our Los Primos White Wine has been a run away success from the moment we discovered it. The Los Primos White is a blend of Malvasia and Sauvignon Blanc, from Argentina. The wine which is light and refreshing is a little sweet on the nose, a little dry on the finish, with a little bubbly carbonation that make it a whole lot of fun to drink. In Argentina the wine is served in restaurants and bars all over Buenos Aires as a wine based cocktail called a Tincho. The Tincho is Los Primos White Wine, served over ice with a twist of lime. We started suggesting the drink to our customers over 7 years ago and they are still coming back for more. Again, the success of this fun, unpretentious wine is proof that wine doesn’t have to be intimidating or snobby.
Ultimately these experiences have made me a firm believer that wine is a beverage that is best enjoyed in the spirit of the occasion. It can be enjoyed on the golf course or outside at a summer festival, just as easily as it can at a formal dinner. So the next time you find yourself outside on a warm day, if you feel like drinking wine, don’t be scared to grab a few ice cubes and follow Robert Mondavi’s advice.