It typically takes up to three hours for white wines to reach their ideal temperature of 45°F. It also takes around two hours for red wine to reach its ideal temperature of 55°F in the fridge, too. (Yep, red wine shouldn’t be served just at room temperature.) Even using the freezer means it’ll be about an hour until you’re in sufficiently-chilled business.
When it comes to the most efficient way of chilling a bottle of wine, there’s a handy little hack that’s well-known in sommelier circles that can be summed up in three words: salted ice bath. “Spin the bottle in a salted ice bath and it will be chilled and ready to drink in less than five minutes,” reveals sommelier and Good Clean Wine co-founder Michelle Feldman. She elaborates on her instructions saying to fill a metal container large enough to hold your bottle—a large, tall stock pot works perfectly—with 50 percent ice, 50 percent water, and two cups of salt. Then, submerge the bottle up to the bottleneck in the ice water and twist the bottle and swirl it for about five minutes.
There is a legit scientific reason why this works, of course. “Ice water chills and keeps a bottle cold faster than cold air can,” Feldman says. “The cold water with ice makes complete contact with the entire bottle and chills the bottle faster than ice cubes can alone.” The salt, she explains, brings down the freezing temperature of water because saltwater can get cold and remain a liquid. “That’s why we use salt on icy roads in winter,” Feldman says. And as for that little game of spin the bottle, Feldman explains that turning the bottle around redistributes the wine inside. This brings the warmer wine from the center of the bottle toward the glass to chill every ounce of wine in the bottle from top to bottom. (Swoon.)
Don’t have a stock pot big enough for your bottle of wine? No sweat. Sommelier Samantha Capaldi has another smart tip for chilling your wine ASAP: she pours the wine and adds a few frozen grapes to each glass. “This way, it gets chilled immediately without the chance of watering it down with ice cubes,” she says. This is actually her preferred method. “I always remember to grab a pack of grapes from the grocery store and have them in my freezer at all times,” she says, adding that between four to eight frozen grapes per glass typically does the trick.
Both soms offer up some ways to keep your wine cold, too—especially good intel if you’re doing a little day drinking with friends outside. The experts recommend filling a wine bucket or plastic ice chiller bag with ice and submerging the bottle of wine in it. Capaldi is also a fan of the Vinglace wine chiller ($90) to do the job sans ice.
So… what’s the consensus re: ice cubes?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: just adding plain old ice cubes to your glass of wine. When it comes to this (ahem) ‘older-school’ method, Capaldi and Feldman both have a “you do you” attitude about it. “The best way to drink wine is how you like it. It’s totally acceptable to add ice to red, white, rosé, or sparkling,” Feldman says. “Spritzes, wine cocktails, and sangria are often poured over ice. Adding ice can dilute the colors, aromas, and flavors, but it also makes wine more refreshing on a hot day.” If you want to add ice cubes without diluting the flavor, you can always use whiskey cubes ($8) instead of real ones.
What’s clear is that you don’t have to drink room temperature wine unless you want to—there are chillin’ hacks aplenty to choose from. Cheers, friends!
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