The Restaurant Secret To Quickly Chill Wine Without An Ice Bath

Sometimes the moment calls for a bottle of wine. If you want to open and share a bottle with your bestie and didn't pre-chill the wine, there are still ways to quickly bring it to the right temperature without resorting to using ice cubes. The obvious choice is an ice bath, but if you don't have an ice bucket handy, that isn't necessarily practical.

You can always put your wine in the freezer to chill; this works, but it takes time. Most likely your freezer is cooled to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit as recommended by the FDA. If you store your wine at room temperature, it may be as warm as 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are drinking white wine or rose, you want to serve it cooler than that. It may take 10 to 30 minutes to reach your desired temperature if you don't have your own wine cellar.

Often, restaurant staff use a technique that doesn't involve an ice bath. If you want to give it a try, simply wrap the wine bottle in a cold, damp towel. If you have a cold freezer with plenty of room for airflow, place the towel-covered bottle in the freezer or your refrigerator. 

However, physicist and food blogger Greg Blonder of Boston University tackled this subject and found most home freezers — either from not having a built-in fan or being crammed full of food — don't have enough airflow in them to do the trick.

Other methods to wine and chill

An ice bath may still be the fastest method for chilling wine, especially if paired with a saltwater bath, according to Blonder. This method leverages the cool and warm air currents from convection. Simply fill a large bowl or ice bucket with cold water and add salt. Partially submerge your bottle and spin it in one direction for a couple of minutes. For extra cooling power, add ice to the water.

If you only want to chill a glass or two at a time, you could keep wine stones, aka wine pearls, in your freezer to chill the wine without diluting it. Also, the same principle applies to freezing a wine topper for a corkcicle effect, though this method may be slow compared to other approaches. For a refreshing alternative, you could add frozen grapes to the wine. This method doubles as a refreshing snack, even without the wine.

Now that you know a few techniques to chill wine, you may wonder how cold it needs to be. The best advice seems to be cooling light white wines to between 44 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and heavier white wines to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.