How to Quickly Chill Wine: 8 Hacks for Cooling Down That Bottle
As much as you love wine, there's a good chance you don't have a wine refrigerator dedicated to keeping the proper wine temperature at all times. (Join the club.) As such, you might find yourself looking for ways to get your wine chilled fast.
Maybe you're having a wine tasting party but somehow find yourself with less than an hour to get the vino at the perfect temp. Or maybe you've had a long day and you need a frosty glass of rosé stat.
Whatever the case might be, don't worry. We got you. In this guide, we'll show you how to quickly chill wine along with a few common methods that you'll want to avoid. But first, let's review a few basics about enjoying wine at the optimal temperature.
A Quick Word About Wine Temperature
You might be surprised to learn that serving wine at room temperature isn't a good idea. (Including reds.) That said, you don't necessarily want to serve wine ice-cold either — including rosés, white wines, and sparkling wines. While chilling lighter wines brings out their lovely aromas and acidity, over-chilling can mute the flavors. And when it comes to red wine, serving it too cold will make it taste too acidic. It's a delicate balance that can get a little complicated, so be sure to check out our complete guide to the best wine temperatures so you always have the perfect pour.
5 Do's for Chilling Wine in a Hurry
While it's always best to plan things ahead of time, life happens. So, when you're in a rush, here are five easy hacks that will help your wine (and you) chill out.
1. Submerge It in Salted Ice Water
The fastest way to chill wine is by giving the bottle an ice bath in salted water. (And we don't mean ocean salt water — we mean adding regular table salt to water.)
In case you hadn't heard, salt reduces the freezing point of water (called the "freezing point depression"), which allows it to get much colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit without freezing. (Thank you, science.)
To make this method work, you first need an ice bucket, wine bucket, or any other container that can fit the entire wine bottle. If you have multiple bottles of wine, you could even use your kitchen sink or bathtub. (Sounds like a party already!)
Next, you'll fill the container with water and add the salt. The trick is making sure you use enough salt. Some say adding a few tablespoons of salt is sufficient, but such a small amount won't significantly drop the temperature of the ice bath. Instead, pour at least a few cups of salt in the water. Then, pile on the ice cubes.
Make sure to fully submerge the wine bottle once you have the salted water and ice mixture all set. In about 15 minutes or less, your wine will be ready to go.
Pro tip: To get it cold even faster, move the bottle around the mixture every few minutes. Just don't do this for Champagne or other sparkling wines or you'll end up with an explosive situation.
2. Put It in the Freezer
It's not the fastest route to a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or sparkling brut, but sticking your bottle of wine in the freezer will get the job done. The key to making the freezer option work for you is to place your wine on its side.
Why? The additional surface area that touches the cold surface area of your freezer will cool it a lot faster than simply placing it upright. (Plus, there's a good chance your freezer won't fit an upright wine bottle.) Be sure to set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour to get to the optimal temperature and avoid having the bottle crack or explode.
Pro tip: Storing wine horizontally is ideal even if you're not chilling it. This is especially true for wine bottles with cork as it maintains moisture, prevents drying, and keeps it from going bad.
3. Pour It in Wine Glasses and Refrigerate
This chilling method requires that you open the wine bottle first, so if you don't mind doing so, this could be a solid solution. Simply pour the wine into a wine glass and before placing it in the fridge, cover with plastic wrap to seal in the aromas, minimize oxidation, and keep out any fridge orders.
Since a wine glass is a lot thinner (and smaller) than a bottle of wine, it'll chill a lot faster. In this case, that means your wine will be ready in about 30 minutes instead of the average 90 minutes it would take to chill an entire bottle in the refrigerator.
Pro tip: Place the filled glasses on a shelf toward the back of the fridge rather than on the door. Not only will this keep the glasses from moving and potentially spilling, but it'll help regulate the temperature better (especially if you're frequently opening the fridge).
4. Throw in Some Ice Cubes
We're the first to admit this is a clear breach of wine etiquette 101. But when you're looking for fast fixes on how to quickly chill wine, if you need to throw in one or two ice cubes to your glass of wine, so be it. (Hey, some rules are made to be broken. And when it comes to enjoying a glass of wine, you'll do whatever it takes.)
Since ice cubes will melt and eventually dilute the wine, you may only want to use this method for rosés or unoaked white wines that won't taste bad when slightly watered down.
Pro tip: Consider reusable ice cubes, which won't melt and come in materials ranging from stainless steel to soapstone. That said, they won't stay cold forever, so make sure you have enough cubes to keep your vino adequately chilled.
5. Add a Few Frozen Grapes
A better alternative to ice cubes, frozen grapes are an effective and visually appealing way to chill wine in a matter of minutes. They won't dilute your wine and you get the bonus of being able to eat them for a little pop of sweetness.
Pro tip: Choose grapes that coordinate with the type of wine you're drinking or serving — red grapes for red wine and green grapes for white wine — and opt for organic when possible to avoid pesticide residue.
3 Don'ts of How to Quickly Chill Wine
These methods are commonly heralded as great ways to chill wine in a hurry, but we beg to differ. Here's why.
- Dish towel: Contrary to popular opinion, wrapping your wine bottle in a dish towel (or paper towels) and placing it in the freezer will not speed up the cooling process. In fact, it has the opposite effect! Wrapping the bottle insulates it from cold freezer temps, so it'll take much longer to cool.
- Cooling pour spout: These devices are like a freezer stick for your wine. After opening the bottle and pouring the first glass, you insert the spout and serve. However, these sticks need to be placed in the freezer at least two hours in advance, so it sort of defeats the purpose of getting the job done fast.
- Chilled wine glasses: You might've read online somewhere that pouring room-temperature wine in chilled wine glasses is a viable option to cool your drink. While this is generally a good idea, it won't make a dramatic temperature difference and won't be very helpful if you need to chill multiple bottles of wine.
Chill Out, You Got This
There are so many ways to speed up the wine-chilling process — some of which are helpful and others that are better off ignoring. No matter what type of wine you're serving, you can get it chilled in a hurry. For more ideas on making the most of your wine-drinking experience, don't miss our Usual Wines blog.