Chilling Wine 101

wines chilling in ice bucket on table

The heat is on – so break out the ice bucket and make some room in the fridge. This cheat sheet is your definitive guide to properly chill wine, from sparkling to whites, rosés to reds (yes, even reds!). If you need a chilled bottle super quick, whether it’s after a long day at work, or due to impromptu guests, we have some tips that will help you cool down FAST.

Why should one bother to chill wines? Serving temperature dramatically influences how a wine tastes and smells. Every wine has an ideal temperature range for which it should be served for its optimal sensory enjoyment. Keep in mind that serving a wine cool will continue to warm up in the glass, while a wine served warm will stay warm. However, this information is meant as a guide, not a rule book. If you like to sip your Cabernet Sauvignon with ice cubes, or enjoy your Sauvignon Blanc at room temp – as long as you find your wine tasty and enjoyable, that’s all that matters!

 

Sparkling Wine

An ice-cold temperature keeps bubbles in nice, uniform, bubbly shape – which is the whole fun of a sparkler! The perfect temperature for sparkling wines is 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. After you’ve popped the cork and poured a few glasses, place the opened bottle on ice until finished.

Fridge: 2.5 hours

Freezer: 20 minutes

Ice bucket with water: 10 minutes

 

White Wines or Dry Rosé

For rosé or white wines with a high level of acidity (like a Sauvignon Blanc) a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit will help retain the wine’s light fruit flavors and ensure they stay refreshingly crisp. White wines on the rich, fuller-bodied side of the spectrum (like some Chardonnays) can do with less chilling time and can be served around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fridge: 2 hours (rich whites); 2.5-3 hours (high acidity whites or dry rosé)

Freezer: 25 minutes (rich whites); 30-35 minutes (high acidity whites or dry rosé)

Ice bucket with water: 5 minutes (rich whites); 10 minutes (high acidity whites or dry rosé)

 

Red Wines

Personal temperature preferences really come into play with red wines, yet some reds truly are better when chilled. A bold red with heavy tannins can do with a short stint in the fridge, while a light-bodied young red can chill for longer. That being said, a little under room temperature works best for all types of red wine. A serving temperature of around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit mimics the effects of a cool wine cellar. Remember that the wine will continue to slowly warm up to room temperature as it sits out.

Fridge: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Freezer: 5-10 minutes

Ice bucket with water: 3-5 minutes

 

Dessert Wines or Sweet Rosés

Sweetness is accentuated at warmer temperatures. Chilling a dessert or sweet rosé lets some acidity shine through to counterbalance the sweetness. A temperature range of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for a sweet, dessert-style wine. Rather than keep it on ice after opening, like a sparkling, leave it out on the table to allow its characters to change as the wine warms up to room temperature.

Fridge: 2.5 hours

Freezer: 20 minutes

Ice bucket with water: 10 minutes

 

3 TIPS FOR A QUICK CHILL: 

Let’s face it, we don’t always have the time to patiently wait for our wine to chill in the fridge. We have things to do and wine to drink! If you need a glass of perfectly-chilled vino pronto, these tips will help shave off precious time.

 

ADD SALT – Salt reduces the freezing point of water, letting it get colder without turning into ice. Simply mix a handful of salt into your ice and water bucket (or more salt, depending on the size of the bucket and how many wines you’re chilling) and your wines will chill quicker than ever before.

 

THROW ON THE TOWEL – Wet a clean dish towel so that it’s damp, not soaking wet, and then swaddle the bottle like the precious thing that it is. Place it in the fridge or even the freezer, for a faster chill. The towel retains the cold temperature and helps distribute it throughout the bottle. If you’re worried about drips or condensation in the fridge, place it on a baking pan or cookie sheet.

 

DO THE TWIST – For non-sparkling wines only, simply twist the bottles around every few minutes as they sit in the ice and water bucket. This light disturbance moves the wine around in the bottle, letting more of it come into contact with the cold glass.

 

Please keep in mind that after a couple of months in a regular food refrigerator, the wine cork starts to dry out, prematurely oxidizing the wine. Though we can’t fathom why one would have delicious wines waiting in the fridge for two months, here are some ideas and inspiration to make use of that wine for cooking, wine cocktails and more