How to Chill Wine Quickly

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Maybe you have some last minute guests come over or your spouse forgot to put the bottle of white in the wine fridge even though you asked them twice. Maybe someone brought over a warm bottle of wine. Whatever the reason, you now have a warm bottle and need to figure out how to chill wine quickly.

We’ve all been there. Usually the answer is to either a) drink warm wine (no thanks) or b) wait for the wine to become chilled inside a fridge (also no thanks.)

But what if I told you there’s a better way to chill wine quickly? Yep, queue the dramatic music here because there’s no reason to suffer through warm wine or wait hours for wine to chill when you’re in a bind.

Now, even in a warm wine emergency there’s no magic formula. These methods can only help speed up the process. And a few will need some extra tools on hand in order to make it possible.

What I’m saying is read this now so you’re prepared the next time you have to chill a bottle quickly! 

Bucket of Ice

a metal bucket with a bottle of wine in it

It doesn’t get a lot of points for creativity but this is popular for a reason. Most people have ice on hand and you can throw the wine in pretty much any kind of bucket. Although insulated ones are best.

Stainless steel is also a good choice since it helps chill more evenly. A bucket made specifically for chilling wine is ideal, but you can use anything available in a pinch.

This is also the go-to wine chilling method for hotel rooms.

How to: Submerge the wine in a bucket of ice for about 15 minutes.

Water, Salt, and Ice Bath

stainless steel bucket with ice

No, we’re not taking tequila shots here so don’t bust out the lime. Not to be too much of a geek, but a combination of water, salt, and ice is scientifically superior to ice water when it comes to chilling wine.

The salt speeds the melting process up for the ice cubes so instead of slowly warming and melting they quickly mix in with the cold water. The result is a very cold mixture that can help chill your bottle fast when left submerged.

How to: Mix 1lb of ice, ½ cup salt, and ⅓ cup of water, then chill for up to 10 minutes.

Put it in the Freezer

Freezer with ice cream in it

As someone who permanently has a bottle of Brennivin in the freezer I’m no stranger to using it to chill booze. But unlike hard alcohol, wine becomes a winescicle if you leave it too long unattended in a household freezer due to the lower alcohol content. 

I mean, a wine slush does sound good, but not what you want if the plan is to drink the bottle. What I’m saying is that the freezer works, but it’s harder to keep an eye on than other methods.

Make sure you protect your wine bottle from everything else in the freezer so it doesn’t crack. Wrapping it in a tea towel can help, but it will also slow down the chilling process. 

How to: Place the bottle on its side inside the freezer for 30 minutes, add more time if needed.

Ziplock Bag Method

This is kind of a combination of the first three methods, but with one major difference. Instead of submerging or freezing your entire bottle of wine inside the bottle, pour the wine into a large ziplock bag.

The idea is that the wine can spread out and get a larger surface area so it chills quicker. Wine bottles are also thick so this helps the cold surroundings penetrate the wine easier too.

Make sure you have a leak-free bag that seals well to avoid spilling. You’ll also want a funnel if you plan on pouring the wine back in the bottle when you’re done.

How to: Empty wine into a ziplock bag and chill it in an ice bath or the freezer, wine can be chilled in as little as 2-3 minutes so watch it closely.

Wine Chilling Rod

These rods are handy because you don’t need to mess around with water or ice to chill your wine quickly. You’ll want to get one in advance and keep it chilled so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice, though.

Another perk is that it keeps the wine chilled while you’re serving too.

How to: Insert a pre-chilled rod into your bottle of wine for 15 minutes to chill, then leave it in for up to an hour to keep it cold.

Drop Some Ice In

My mom drinks her white wine with some ice cubes dropped in. Apparently this is a common thing? Anyway, she doesn’t seem to mind when the bottle hasn’t been chilled because the ice cools down the wine as she drinks it.

If watered down wine isn’t your thing, though, you can also get stainless steel ice cubes or whisky stones. Like the wine chilling rod, you’ll want to make sure these are kept in the freezer so they’re always ready to go.

How to: Drop a few ice cubes into your glass and wait for it to chill slightly before enjoying.

Frozen Fruit

Raspberry Peach Sangria
Photo: Raspberry peach sangria, get the recipe

]In place of ice you can also use frozen fruit to chill your wine. Depending on the variety of wine and fruit you have on hand you can actually add to the flavour this way! Or just use this opportunity to make a sangria instead.

One super popular option is to use frozen grapes in place of ice cubes. Of course, this makes sense since wine is made from grapes anyway. This works for both red and white wine, too.

(Tip: Choose green grapes for white wine and red grapes for chilling red wine. This isn’t a good option for chilling sparkling wine, unfortunately.)

Grapes won’t change the flavour of the wine or dilute the taste. Of course, they’re also not something you usually have in the freezer so it’s a good idea to keep some in there just in case.

How to: Add frozen berries or grapes directly to your wine glass and enjoy.

Chill a Single Glass in the Fridge

Pouring a glass of wine

A lot of these tips for chilling wine quickly rely on you having copious amounts of ice or extra tools on hand. That doesn’t work for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck drinking warm wine either.

You can do this with any variety of wine, including sparkling wines. They should stay fizzy for 4-5 hours, plenty of time to chill a glass and enjoy.

The best part about this method is that everyone can chill their glass to their individual tastes. 

How to: Pour wine into glasses, place in the fridge, and chill for about 30 minutes.

Electric Wine Bottle Chiller

If you want a more modern approach to chilling wine there are appliances out there that can almost instantly chill a can or bottle. What I really like about it is that it’s mess-free.

This one also doesn’t shake up your bottle so you can safely chill bubbly in there too.

You still have to fill it with ice and water, but if you want something that chills wine bottles quickly (only 6 minutes!) to a specific temperature it’s a good option.

How to: Fill it with water and ice, load your wine bottle, pick the setting, and wait.

Other Tips on How to Chill Wine Quickly

Plan Ahead

If you’re reading this and already in a pinch there’s not much to be done now, but you can prepare for next time so it doesn’t happen again. Grabbing a wine chilling bucket or a wine chilling rod to keep on hand can be a lifesaver. 

Chill Wine in the Coldest Spots

Whether it’s inside the freezer or in the fridge, place your wine in the coldest areas to keep the chilling times as low as possible. In the fridge this means putting glasses or bottles towards the back.

Also, if you’re chilling in the freezer you can accelerate cooling time by burying your wine bottle among other frozen items. Just be careful not to break the bottle.

Set a Timer

I have cleaned way too many exploded cans from my freezer to know that you can sometimes forget about a chilling beverage. Especially if there’s guests over!

A timer can help save your wine from freezing or chilling too much.

Thermometers Can Help Determine Temperature

There are dedicated wine thermometers out there but an instant read one that’s designed for cooking usually works just fine. Temping the wine throughout the chilling process can help ensure you get a temperature as close to as ideal as possible.

Most chilled wines should be between 40 and 60 degrees, with light ones being cooler and full bodied wines on the warmer side.

Consider a Wine Fridge

That way you’ll always have wine at the ideal drinking temperature. If you always have a couple of extra bottles in there you won’t have to worry about quickly chilling your wine again!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully with this how to guide you’re all set to chill wine quickly. It really is possible to get your wine to the ideal temperature through these little tricks, so definitely try them if you’re not wanting to wait the 2 hours to chill a bottle in the fridge! 

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