Baby, it may be cold outside but if we’re cold does that mean the ducks are cold, too?  How cold is too cold for a duck?  Can a duck even get cold?  And why the duck do they call that sparkling beverage Cold Duck anyway?

For answers to these and other compelling seasonal questions, read on!

First, how do ducks manage in sub-freezing weather?  According to Dave Holderread, ducks are very cold (and heat) resistant.  Waterfowl can regulate their own production of down feathers to cope in temperatures we would find unpleasant.*  Sort of like cats growing winter fur though I don’t recommend stuffing a coat with feline sheddings (or furballs for that matter!)

But if that explains their bodies,  how can the ducks waddle across snow and ice on those feather-less feet?   Last year I heard one of those charming BirdNote® moments that explained exactly why ducks (and other birds) don’t freeze their toes in chilly weather.  Here’s the link:

Which brings us to the not-quite-burning question, why call a beverage “cold duck”?  Okay, the cold part I get but liquid duck???  Er, yum.**

In their book, Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage, former Wall St. Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher share the etymological origins,  a name apparently derived from German as channeled by an enterprising California wine-maker.  Read more here:

So this festive season, whether you imbibe bubbly or something decked in marshmallows, take time to toast the poultry that made your parkas possible.  To the ducks and chickens and even the geese: Long may they feather our beds.

I’ll drink to that!





Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks; Dave Holderread; 2011 edition, Storey Publishing; North Adams, MA.

Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage; Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher; 2003; Random House; New York, NY.


*We call our heat regulatory system “fashion”.

**I believe it’s all the rage in molecular gastronomy circles.  🙂


Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes