We’ve all found ourselves in a pinch, needing a chilled bottle of wine for an impromptu gathering or after forgetting to put a bottle in the fridge to have with dinner. Thankfully, there are a lot of hacks on the internet telling you how to chill wine quickly. Some are good, others are great but a few are downright terrible. So, I’ve scoured and tested and found the most effective strategies for dropping the temperature of a bottle of wine – fast! And best of all, the best solutions don’t alter the integrity of the wine.
Ideal Serving Temperatures for Different Styles of Wine
Before we get to the best ways to chill wine quickly, we need to know what our goals are. And those goals will vary depending on the style and colour of your wine. Here’s a quick look at the ideal serving temperatures for different wines.
|Cava, Prosecco, Champagne
|6-9 ̊ C
|Light-bodied white wine
|Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
|7-10 ̊ C
|Full-bodied white wine
|10-13 ̊ C
|Rosé* & light-bodied red wine
|Pinot Noir, Gamay
|12-14 ̊ C
|Medium-bodied red wine
|12-16 ̊ C
|Full-bodied** red wine
|Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
|16-18 ̊ C
*Use your judgement when chilling rosé. The temperature listed is best if you’re serving it with food. If it’s too cold, some of the flavours and nuances can be masked. By all means serve it a little cooler if all you want to do is enjoy an ice-cold glass of vino on a hot day.
** Even full-bodied red wines benefit from a little chill. Think about the average home’s thermostat set at 20 ̊ C or 21 ̊ C. That brooding and luxurious red you plan to drink will show better after being in the fridge for 10 minutes.
The Most Effective Way to Chill Wine Quickly
Let’s kick things off with a bang. The most effective way to drop the temperature of a bottle of wine is to submerge it in a metal ice bucket filled with half ice and half water. Why metal? It’s a better heat conductor than plastic or acrylic. Why water and not just ice? Because water cools faster than air, which is what would be in between all the ice if you left all those cubes to work alone.
Let’s Step This Strategy Up a Notch
There is a way to make this strategy even better but I didn’t mention it outright because not all kitchens have an abundant amount of salt. And that’s what you need to kick this chill into high gear. With the addition of a ½ cup of salt per cup of ice & water, the amount of time it takes to drop the temperature gets cut in half. With salt in the ice bucket mix, it can take as little as 15 minutes to get that bottle of white wine down to where it needs to be.
Here’s the Magic Combination
We need to add one more element to achieve the most efficient way to chill wine quickly. And that’s agitation.
Metal Ice Bucket + Ice + Water + Salt + Constant Agitation = 5-minute chill time!
That’s right – only 5 minutes! It’s amazing what science can do for us.
The Fastest Way to Chill Wine Without an Ice Bucket
An ice bucket might not be one of those things that everyone has. An easy substitute could be the metal bowl that comes with a countertop electric mixer. Or perhaps even a simple metal mixing bowl. As long as you can submerge the bottle to the neck, any metal bowl will do.
Failing all metal bowl options, we move on to strategies involving the freezer. Patience is needed here – about thirty minutes’ worth. There is conflicting research about whether to wrap the bottle in a wet cloth before placing in the freezer. Some say that doing so will end up insulating the bottle rather than speeding up the freezing process. Plus, you risk the towel sticking to the label. But, if a bottle is going in the freezer, then it’s likely not one you care about keeping in pristine condition anyways.
So, place it in the freezer, sans damp cloth, making sure you lay it down horizontally for a faster chill time.
Avoid These Wine Chilling Strategies, If You Can
It might be possible that some of the strategies already mentioned won’t work based on what you have available. Here are a few less-than-ideal options to chill wine quickly. These aren’t bad, per se, but know that they may alter the flavour of the wine or take a bit of additional planning to execute.
Avoid adding frozen items into your poured glass. Ice cubes are always a no-no. Please do not go this route as they will melt and dilute your vino. Adding frozen grapes to your glass is an option. However, with the effort needed to ensure you have frozen grapes in your freezer, you might as well have just remembered to put the bottle in the fridge. Plus, I would argue that you probably can’t find wine grapes to freeze in which case you’re probably using table grapes. If this is the case, the wine’s flavour profile will be altered once the grapes start to thaw. The only acceptable option here would be to use chilled metal wine stones. But again, thinking ahead and having these already in the freezer is key. Plus, who wants to take a sip of wine and have to dodge metal stones? Not me!
You Could Try a Corksicle
Again, this strategy takes some planning. You need to have the actual Corksicle in the freezer ahead of time. I’ve never used one before so I can’t speak to how quickly it chills your wine but if available, it’s better than nothing. I’d suggest opening the bottle, adding the Corksicle and placing the entire bottle in the fridge for 10 minutes for maximum chill efficiency.
Ready, Set, Chill
In an ideal world, we’d all have temperature controlled cellars or wine fridges. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about any of this. But alas, we’re human, with regular human budget restraints. So if you must, make sure you have a metal bowl, ice and a box of salt then you’ll never have to worry about remembering to put a bottle in the fridge again!