How to Chill Wine Fast (10 Methods Tested)

How to chill wine fast and easy. I test out 10 different methods and one drops the temperature almost 50 degrees! 

How to chill wine with 10 methods tested. One trick drops the temp 40 degrees in just 30 minutes! Plus the perfect serving temperatures for red and white wines.

Chilling whites can help amplify their aromas and acidity, but over-chilling them can mute those same flavors. And when it comes to red wine, serving it too cold can make it taste hella acidic. There is a balance to serving wine. However, personal preference is also key. I like my whites a little warmer than what most wine makers would suggest. And that is okay. You do you, amiright?

Here are the basics on wine temperature, and some tricks for chilling them quickly, using everything from a plastic bag to salt. The winner may surprise you! 

Wine Temperature

Red wine is traditionally served warmer than white wine. It’s a myth that red must only be served at room temperature. If it is served too warm, it can taste unbalanced. Again, these are just guard rails, you do you.  

Serve sparkling wines, rosés, and light dry white wines at 40 to 50 degrees F. Whites with high acidity also taste great in this temperature range. Bigger and buttery whites do well a little warmer, like 48 to 60 degrees F. 

Lighter and fruitier reds like it cool, around 55 to 60 degrees F. Full-bodied reds are great at 60 to 65 degrees F. 

Now with our temperature goalposts laid out, let’s get to chilling. 

How to Chill Wine

Now if you are lucky enough to have a wine fridge, this problem is solved for you because you are fancy AF. 

Wine fridge

Wine fridges, of course, are a fantastic method for storing wine. They’re designed to maintain a consistent internal temperature, control humidity, and protect the wine from UV damage. If you have access to a wine fridge, use it. But if you don’t, or just don’t have any in your regular fridge, there are a few ways to chill your wine quickly. 

Testing Methodology

Drawing on research and my personal experience, I selected 10 different methods to chill a bottle of wine and ran experiments to measure how effective each one was. 

For each chilling method, I started with a standard white wine bottle around 80 degrees F (it was August and hot AF in Sacramento) and then measured the temperature at 5-minute intervals throughout. I used bottles with a screw cap and all the same brand and varietal. Each method worked but there was significant variety among the methods. 

Will you be able to guess the winner? Here are the 10 methods:

  1. Refrigerator (upright) – The bottle stored upright in the fridge. 
  2. Refrigerator (horizontal) – The bottle laid down in the fridge. 
  3. Freezer (upright) – The bottle upright in the freezer. 
  4. Freezer (horizontal) – The bottle laid down in the freezer. 
  5. Freezer with Towel (horizontal) – The bottle wrapped in a wet towel, laid down in the freezer. 
  6. Water Bath – The bottle in half water and half ice. 
  7. Water Bath (agitated) – Same as the Water Bath but the bottle is moved around. 
  8. Water Bath with Salt – Same as the Water Bath with 2 cups of salt.
  9. Water Bath with Salt (agitated) – Same as the Water Bath with Salt but the bottle is moved around.
  10. Ziplock Bag – Transfer wine to a zip top bag and pop it in the freezer. 

Refrigerator Methods

The most straightforward way to chill your wine is by sticking it in the fridge. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare before uncorking time, this set-and-forget method will work just fine. 

I tried placing the bottle in the refrigerator in both the horizontal and vertical positions to see if it made a difference. While there was some variation in cooling between the two positions, ultimately the wine chilled about 11 degrees after 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Not a bad method if you just want to add a little chill. 

Freezer Methods

One step up from the fridge is the freezer. This method starts to deliver some rapid chilling effects but comes with risks. If you’re going to place a wine bottle in your freezer, remember to set a timer. Wine can fully freeze if left in the freezer, ruining the wine’s flavor or even worse, the bottle explodes! 

With that warning made, I also tried the horizontal vs vertical positions with this method. A wine bottle stored horizontally in the freezer will chill slightly faster than a bottle stored vertically, though both will deliver around 23 degrees of cooling after 30 minutes. That’s certainly an improvement over the refrigerator, just remember, set a timer.

There is another method that involves wrapping a wet dish towel around the wine bottle before setting it in the freezer. I have been told this is the best method FOR YEARS! While it sounds good, this actually caused the wine to chill more slowly than the standard freezer method. The towel acts more like a blanket, trapping the “warmth” of the wine bottle in rather than super-chilling it. If you do proceed with this method, expect a poor 19 degrees of chilling after 30 minutes.

Water Bath Methods

Now onto more radical methods. If you really need to chill a bottle of wine down quickly you’ll want to use a water bath. Your water bath will be composed of about half water and half ice in a bucket. Simply submerging your wine bottle in a water bath will net you 25 degrees of chilling after 30 minutes, or slightly more than the freezer method. 

But by spinning or agitating your wine bottle in the ice bath, you can speed up the cooling process considerably. After 30 minutes of agitating your wine bottle in an ice water bath you can chill an 80 degree bottle of white wine down to its serving temperature of 47 degrees.

To supercharge the water bath method, you can also engage in a little light chemistry. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, allowing ice to turn into supercooled water. This mixture will envelop your wine bottle and accelerate the cooling process. Simply stir in 2 cups of salt to your 50/50 mixture of ice and water to begin. 

By submerging your wine bottle in a saltwater bath for 30 minutes, you can chill a room temperature bottle down to 45 degrees. But spinning your bottle in the saltwater bath delivers the maximum cooling results. After just 15 minutes of spinning in a saltwater bath, I brought an 80 degree bottle down to a servable temperature of 51 degrees. If you really need to cool a bottle of wine rapidly, this is the way to do it. 

Why does moving the bottle help? Well, as thermal conduction occurs between the glass bottle and the super-chilled salt water bath, the water around the bottle is going to get warmer as the glass bottle is going to get cooler. So there will be warm water around the bottle and cold water closer to the side of the bucket.  Moving the bottle around mixes these waters together, therefore cooling those warmer water faster. When the bottle is stationary, we have to wait for those different water temperatures to even out. After moving the bottle around, the glass, now at a lower temperature, is again surrounded by cold water and the process starts all over again. And as the bottle chills, convection occurs within, chilling the wine over time. 

Forbidden Ziplock Bag Method

There is another hack floating around that, while effective, lacks the grace and refinement of the other methods. The thick glass wine bottle serves as an insulator for the wine inside, slowing the rate of temperature change in both directions. By removing the wine from the bottle and placing it in a less insulating container, say a Ziplock bag, you theoretically accelerate the cooling process when submerged in a simple ice bath. I tried this theory myself and got 20 degrees of cooling after 30 minutes. Not much better than the freezer or regular ice bath method, but way better than the fridge, with the added tackiness of putting your wine in a plastic baggie.

Chilled to the Max

This is a comprehensive rundown on how to chill your bottle of wine quickly. I hope I’ve inspired a few ideas and dispelled a few myths. Now at your next dinner party, you’ll not only have immaculately chilled wine but also a few wine-chilling tricks to teach your friends.