The elephant in the room…

Wine / Thursday, January 16th, 2020

We’ve had a busy week…

Rob has been out helping Kim Anderson with the cleanup and recovery effort at his fire-affected vineyard in Charleston. Kim has his replacement irrigation components now and is busily installing the new infrastructure.

This week also saw Rob take a look at some fruit which will hopefully fill in some of the gaps for this vintage (which Kim’s vineyard recovers). For the Chardonnay lovers, there is some potentially good news on the horizon (as long as the rest of Vintage 2020 progresses without too many more dramas). I can hear Heather breathe a sigh of relief from here! Fingers crossed we’ll have more news on other varieties in the coming weeks.

Our first Jockey Club pack for 2020 is currently on its way to all our members. We hope you enjoy the wines we selected for you this month. We did have two different wines in mind for your January pack, but due to the uncertain nature of vintage 2020, we were unable to dispatch those wines in large amounts. So, we didn’t think you would mind too much getting some more Shiraz and Chardonnay. We currently have some healthy stocks of those ones!


But that’s not really what I want to talk to you about this week. I think it is time we address the elephant in the room…


Is it ok to put ice in a glass of wine?

Yes, it’s been hot lately.

And especially on those 40-something days, we’ve seen a rise of ice in wine glasses at the cellar bar.

Some people love it and some people frown upon it (and no, I’m not telling you which side of the fence I’m on!), but is it really such a faux pas to add ice to your glass of wine on a hot day?

Instead of giving you my personal opinion, I decided to search the interwebs for a professional opinion…

This quote I found from Peter Richards MW (Decanter magazine), says it best, I think…

‘My take is: do whatever you want with your wine as long as it makes you happy! That’s what wine’s for, after all.

‘But, unless you’re drinking super-fast, the ice will melt and dilute the wine and it won’t taste as good.’


It is also good to keep in mind that winemakers slave over the composition of their wine. There is a chance that diluting it with ice cubes could cause offense. But it can also throw off the delicate balance of a wine.

There are other things you can do to lower the temperature of wine…

  • pop a few grapes into the freezer and then into your wine – it will cool it down without diluting it!
  • the same goes for all those fancy metal ice cubes and gadgets designed to chill wine quickly (like this thing!)
  • stick your red wines in the fridge for 20 minutes before drinking. Or better still keep them in a wine fridge – that way they are always ready to drink!


And what about our own in-house expert? This is what Rob has to say on the matter…

I can remember one occasion where it was mandatory to put at least one ice block in my wine.  It was a 50th birthday party in the middle of a vineyard on a 41C day.  I won’t say that the result was fantastic, but it did help a lot, especially as the beer wasn’t cold enough either!

Putting ice in wine has the effect of keeping (or getting) the wine cool, but it also has the unfortunate effect of diluting the wine as the block melts, and diluting wine rarely improves it – in most cases it reduces flavour, not surprisingly.

But when you have a wine that’s rather too high in alcohol and hence “hot” on the palate, a bit of dilution isn’t a bad thing.  The legendary Jack Mann who owned Houghton Wines in the Swan Valley many years ago – remember Houghtons White Burgundy? – once told me that he made his wine full and rich and high in alcohol so that people could dilute the wine and, presumably, get more for their money!  So, if you like the dilution effect, do it!

I can’t remember the last time I put ice in my glass of wine – probably that birthday party many years ago – and it will be a long time before I do.  I’d much prefer to keep the wine cool in the refrigerator and I’ve no problem with reds in the fridge.

But then, it’s probably that I’m too much of a wine snob!



Now back to the serious stuff…

Some snippets I’ve picked up during the week…

Understandably, I’m getting a lot of fire-related correspondence in my inbox. Here are just a few of the interesting things I’ve read this week…

  • Some stats: the December 20 fire burnt through 25,000 hectares of land and destroyed more than 70 homes, 400 outbuildings and 200 vehicles. A third of the region’s 3000ha of vineyards are within the fire scar, with about 500ha of vines across 60 vineyards sustaining damage.


  • The Adelaide Hills Wine Region with the support of the Wine Show Committee are working on a significant fundraising project to support the Fire Appeal. Donations of 2019 Shiraz/Syrah are being sought which will be blended to produce a wine to be sold nationwide with ALL PROCEEDS channeled directly to growers and producers affected by the Cuddlee Creek fire. What a fantastic idea!


  • Gumeracha winery Mt Bera Vineyards suffered significant damage to its 75ha property in the Sampson Flat Bushfire in January 2015. Last month’s fire came within 50 metres of the property again but did not burn any vines. Mt Bera owner Greg Horner has started a blog on the winery’s website as a reference for other growers and to provide hope that recovery is possible.


  • Several grower meetings and field days have been held in the Adelaide Hills since the fires to answer questions and help build solidarity among affected growers. It is also providing an avenue for growers to share their experiences and demonstrate the work they have already done to assist in the recovery of their vineyards.


  • Recovery rebates of up to $75,000 now available for fire-affected primary producers in the Adelaide Hills. The Adelaide Hills Wine Region (AHWR) is offering help to all growers/producers to apply and secure this money.


I will have some more news for you in the coming weeks regarding not only our wine region but others around Australia.

Want to help?

The best way you can help our region get back on its feet is to visit us! And to spend money on the products our grape growers and winemakers are passionate about producing for you.

Our annual Crush Festival is going ahead and planned this year and is a fabulous opportunity to do exactly that!

Check out the full program here.

At Somerled, our Al Fresco Tomato Crushing Festival returns for 2020! Find out more and book tickets here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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