Date: Saturday 14 December | 2pm

Location: 6 Ralph Street, Alexandria NSW 2015

If you poke around certain corners of the Internet, you’ll find all sorts of tricks for speeding up the wine-chilling process.  Here’s what we found:

One theory prescribes wrapping a bottle of wine in a wet tea towel before popping it in the freezer. Another postulates that bottles will chill more quickly stored horizontally than vertically – because thermodynamics, etc. etc…

Wrapping the Bottle in a Tea Towel

The thinking behind wrapping a bottle in a wet towel is that cooling may be sped up by water evaporation, like how sweating helps us humans cool down. As it turns out, wrapping a bottle with a wet towel only works in ideal circumstances, like in a commercial blast freezer with brisk circulating air. In a home freezer – stuffed with three kinds of ice cream, half-filled ice trays, and a bunch of other mysterious foil-wrapped things – the wet towel wrapped around a bottle of wine will actually insulate it because the air is stagnant. Meaning that the towel-wrapped bottle will take even longer to cool than that regular ol’ dry bottle of wine in the freezer.

Adding Frozen Objects to a Glass of Wine

One of the recommendations floating around the Web is keeping frozen grapes or special wine chilling cubes in your freezer for dropping into a glass of warm wine without dilution. This technically works, but practically speaking, it requires more forethought and investment than, say, popping a bottle of wine in the refrigerator at the get-go (the cubes takes about 2-3 hours to chill in the freezer, longer than it takes to chill a bottle). Not to mention the fact that you have to navigate either frozen grapes or clunky metal cubes each time you take a sip.

Chilling a Bottle of Wine Horizontally Instead of Vertically

Bottom line is that horizontal wins out over vertical, but it may not make a huge difference in the real world. Plus, most freezers can only fit horizontal bottles anyway.

Submerging the Wine in Ice Water

The recommendation that happens to be the one that sommeliers use at restaurants: sticking a bottle of wine in ice water. Water is a more efficient thermal conductor than air, at about 25 times the rate.

There is one thing to keep in mind with this method. People, somms included, always forget to immerse bottles fully.

Fill a container about two-thirds with ice, then adding some water (leaving room at the top), and tossing in a handful of salt, which lowers the water’s freezing point (science), on top. You can swaddle the bottle in plastic wrap to protect the label – another sommelier trick. The key either way is lots of ice. Without salt, it should still take only about 15 minutes.

Science Says: This is the fastest method for cooling a bottle of wine quickly.


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