How to Correctly Chill Wine Fast

Tricks for a Quick Chilled Glass

Wine chilling in an ice bucket

Liliboas / Getty Images

There are lots of reasons to have a trick up your sleeve for chilling wine fast. Whether you have an impromptu celebration at home, found your favorite Chardonnay at the store, or simply carved out the time to have a glass of wine after a long day of work, don't let unchilled wine wreck your plans.

Lydia Richards, certified sommelier and founder of New York-based Vino Concierge, guides people through wine tastings and answers questions they may have been too nervous to ask elsewhere. She has led in-person and virtual tastings, and the number one question she gets is about how to chill wine fast. Second to that is what the correct temperature to serve wine is. As each type of wine needs a different temperature to be experienced at its best, there are certain rules. For example, sparkling wines should be chilled more than fuller-bodied whites, and even fuller-bodied reds need a cooler temperature than what's commonly thought.

We collected useful information with Richards's help so you can always enjoy a glass of wine at the correct temperature in no-time. Starting with the temperature, here is what the Wine & Spirit Education Trust recommends:

  Style of Wine Example   Recommended Serving Temperature
Sweet Sauternes Well-Chilled, 6-8 C (43-45 F)
Sparkling   Champagne Well-Chilled, 6-10 C (43-50 F)
Light, Medium-Bodied White and Rosé Pinot Grigio Chilled, 7-10 C (45-50 F)
Full-Bodied Oaked Chardonnay Lightly Chilled, 10-13 C (50-55 F)
Medium, Full-Bodied Red Shiraz Room Temperature, 15-18 C (59-64 F) 
 Light-Bodied Red Beaujolais Lightly Chilled 13 C (55 F)

The manner in which you chill wine matters: "Wine doesn't really like extreme temperature changes. And because it's pretty delicate and the flavor is ever-evolving, you want to prevent anything from affecting the quality." Putting wine in the fridge the day before you plan to serve it is fine, but storing wines in the fridge for extended periods of time—unless you have a temperature-controlled wine fridge—isn't helpful as it can dry out the cork and leave you with musty wine, or prevent the wines from aging properly.

The Pro Way to Chill Wine Fast

Ice and water is Richards's recommendation. This is how most restaurant sommeliers also chill bottles quickly. Use mostly ice and a little bit of water, and make sure the bottle is immersed in the bucket up to the bottleneck. If you don't have a large enough bucket, plug your sink and fill it with ice and water. Depending on your desired serving temperature, chilling the bottle should take between five and 15 minutes. This method works faster than chilling your bottle in the refrigerator because water conducts heat 20 times faster than air, so the ice bath quickly and efficiently pulls heat from the bottle. If really pressed for time, try spinning the bottle rapidly, but carefully, in the ice bath (due to convection, the transfer of heat accelerates).

While science might say that adding salt to the ice water will help chill the bottle faster—as the freezing point of water lowers—Richards says it doesn't make enough of a difference to warrant the extra step.

Other Quick Methods for Chilling Wine

Ice and water is the recommended method, but other tricks can bring a chilled bottle of wine to your table:

  • Ziptop plastic bag: Although not the best looking, a ziptop bag, water, and ice are all you need. Pour a glass or two of wine in the bag, squeeze out the air, zip it closed, and place it in the ice bath. Because you're nixing the insulation of the glass bottle and increasing the surface area of the wine that's in contact with the ice water, your wine will be fully chilled in about six minutes. 
  • Paper towels and freezer: Wrap your bottle of wine in wet paper towels and pop it in the freezer for seven minutes, laying it horizontally. While this method won't make your wine super cold, it will lightly chill it, so it's great for full-bodied white wines and light red wines. Make sure you set a timer so you don't forget about the wine, only to return to a broken bottle. If you're putting your bottle in a freezer that's packed, your bottle is less likely to cool down in the allotted time because the cold air won't circulate as well. 
  • Reusable ice: Usually made from stainless steel, these chilled rocks, gems, or twirls conveniently kept in your fridge can help you cool down a bottle really fast. Place them in your glass and in 10 to 15 minutes you can enjoy a chilled glass. Remove the rocks before you drink and don't forget to put them back in the freezer.
  • Wine chilling gadgets: There is no shortage of gadgets for chilling wine. The Hyperchiller, originally made for iced coffee lovers to quickly chill hot coffee, will also chill wine and other drinks in just 60 seconds. It's a good investment for wine lovers. Place the chilled hyperchiller in your wine and be ready for your glass a minute later.