The question: Friends criticize and tease me because I use fresh ice in my second and third drinks instead of continuing to use the existing, melting, small, pathetic ice cubes that dilute my drink. They see it as wasteful and "princess-like." Please provide me with the proper response so I can assure them that an expert backs me up!
The answer: You are justified. Clearly your cold-hearted friends missed a vital lesson in high-school thermodynamics (perhaps they were out drinking tepid cocktails)
It's a proven fact that smaller ice cubes melt more quickly than larger ones. I'll spare you the mind-bending details. It's a complex phenomenon and involves more than just the obvious fact that smaller cubes possess a relatively larger surface area than the same volume of larger-cube ice.
Convectional air currents around the glass also likely play a significant role. Also, the longer an ice cube remains out of the freezer, the warmer it becomes. Although water freezes at 0 degrees, ice, once formed, can get much colder than that based on the temperature of your freezer. A fresh cube may emerge from the freezer at, say, minus 20, gradually warming up as it melts and veering closer and closer toward zero until it melts completely, at which point your drink is all liquid and starts warming up to room temperature. This is the reason fashionable bars have taken to using larger-than-normal ice cubes in many cocktails.
A fresh, big, very cold cube is the way to go if you want maximum chill. A wise princess such as you deserves nothing less.
E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear on The Globe and Mail website.