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Do as the Parisians do — with ice

DURING THIS PANDEMIC, TRAVELING TO PARIS IS OUT OF THE QUESTION, but we can import its latest trend – “swimming pool” wines.

Essentially wine on the rocks, these drinks are all the rage in Paris, according to a report in Meininger’s Wine Business International.

Liz Thach, Sonoma State professor of Wine and Management, said she has tasted wine on ice in South Africa.

“I’m assuming they may be in other countries,” she said. “Usually trends that start in Paris travel around the world. I can’t wait to see them in America.”

The French phrase “vin piscine” literally means “swimming pool wine,” and Parisian cafes are offering their tasty version. Servers bring tongs and buckets of ice so people can prepare their vin piscine tableside. They put ice


in balloon glasses, usually reserved for pinot noir, then add a splash of white wine or rosé.

“I think part of the reason it’s so popular is because it’s beautiful to look at with the larger glass and the ice cubes floating in the drink,” Thach said.

“I think it makes a very beautiful drink in the sunshine on a café table in Paris or any other outdoor restaurant in the world. The larger the glass the better. … It shows off the lovely color of the wine with the ice cubes floating inside.”

Choosing the right varietals is key, Thach said, or you may suffer the consequences – diluted wines.

“Any white wine or rosé wine that’s stronger in flavor will work just fine,” she explained.

The French have created a new category of wine, adding “ice” on the labels, such as “Rosé Ice,” Thach explained. They also have added a category for Champagne Ice and Cremant Ice (sparkling wine designed to drink on ice).

“I have not yet seen these wines in the U.S. market, but they’re quite common in France,” she said. “Perhaps we will see it soon.”

In the meantime, exploring iced sippers with the wine readily available to us is a good summer pastime, especially for those who chose to drink in place during the pandemic.

“I discovered that if I added ice to a more intense wine that was concentrated, then it still retained its flavor when the ice melted,” Thach said.

“However, if the wine is rather light in style, then this technique does not work. The wine just becomes diluted and starts to taste like water.”

Thach has been doing some taste-offs poolside at her home on Sonoma Mountain.

She has a “hobby vineyard” in the Petaluma Gap with a quarter acre planted to pinot noir. She makes rosé and dry red wines, with the advice of fellow winemakers.

“When I experimented between a Provence rosé and a white blend from Mendocino by adding ice cubes, the white wine, which was more concentrated and flavorful, tasted much better with the ice than the rosé,” Thach said.

“The rosé just became diluted and lost its flavor.”

With Thach’s experiment in mind, here are 10 concentrated wines that should hold their flavor, even when iced.

Vetted in Press Democrat tastings, these options are weighted to rosé but also include other varietals.

Anaba 2019 Sonoma County Rosé of Grenache, 13.1%, $30. This is a zesty, dry rosé with crisp fruit and bright acidity. It has aromas and flavors of stone fruit, green apple and a hint of pomegranate. Impressive balance. It’s gorgeous and the perfect rosé to marry with a sunkissed day.

Argyle 2019 Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir, 12%, $30. A refreshing rosé with notes of cherry, watermelon and a hint of currant. This rosé is nice and dry, with great minerality and crisp acidity. Lovely.

Red Car 2019 Sonoma/ Mendocino, Rosé of Pinot Noir, 12.6%, $28. A vibrant rosé with bright notes of red grapefruit, nectarine and mineral. Crisp acid. Great balance.

Spot on.

Rodney Strong Vineyards 2019 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir, 12.5%, $25. A splash of this rosé is summer at its best. Buoyed with crisp acidity, this rosé is refreshing, with tangy, high-toned fruit. Aromas and flavors of wild strawberry, white peach and mineral. Its supple texture is a pleasing surprise. Balanced, it finishes crisp.

Banshee Wines 2018 Mendocino County Rosé, 13.1%, $25. Fruity, yet dry, this rosé is lit up with crisp notes of grapefruit and raspberry. Citrusy finish. Smart.

Schramsberg 2016 North Coast Brut Rosé, 12.6%, $47. A pretty rosé with aromas and flavors of brioche, raspberry and mineral. Tangy citrus on the finish. Nice mousse. Lovely.

Seghesio 2018 Sonoma, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14%, $22. A well-crafted chardonnay with pitch-perfect balance of rich flavors buoyed by crisp acid. Aromas and flavors of apple, brioche and lemon. Creamy texture. Lingering finish. Striking.

Silver Trident Winery 2018 Symphony No. 9, Sauvignon Blanc, 14.1%, $32. A life-of-the-party sauvignon blanc with a range of aromas and flavors. Notes of mango, white peach and Meyer lemon. Bright acidity and just a touch of toast. Balanced. Striking.

Goldschmidt Vineyards Singing Tree, 2018 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 13.9%, $18. A tropical chardonnay with a striking note of mango in the mix. In this balanced chardonnay, passion fruit meets minerality. Well crafted. The Singing Tree is spot on.

Kim Crawford 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $13. A classic New Zealand style, with racy aromas and flavors. Notes of lemongrass, grapefruit and mineral. It has crisp acidity with a tart finish. Refreshing. Wine Writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@ or 707-521-5310.

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