We Tested 6 Different Methods for Quickly Chilling a Bottle of Wine — And the Winner Only Took 15 Minutes
Chilling a bottle of wine isn’t a big deal — as long as you remember to put it in the fridge ahead of time. But things happen (read: We forget, or we run out of fridge space). Then what? Well, then you need to a chill a bottle of room-temperature wine and you need to do it quickly. That’s where this post and I come in. I tested six different methods (including two popular gadgets!) in order to find your very best bet. Read this and remember it the next time you’re in a pinch.
How I Tested the Different Methods
I started with six room-temperature bottles of wine (at 69°F), set up the methods, and took the wine’s temperature every five minutes. I stopped taking the wine’s temperature when it reached the target temperature (45°F — a thoroughly chilled drinking temperature) or when it appeared like the temperature was no longer dropping.
The ratings: Each method received an overall rating, with 1 being my least favorite and 5 being the best. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one considered the final results, ease, and price. Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes.
Wine-Chilling Method: Corkcicle Air
- Ease: 5
- Price: 3 (the Corkcicle Air costs $24.95)
- Speed: 0 (at 67°F after 80 minutes)
- Rating: 2
The method: To use the Corkcicle Air, you simply freeze the liquid-filled wand for at least 90 minutes and, when you’re ready to use it, pour out a bit of wine before inserting the wand. Note: Pouring out some wine is important, as the wine will overflow if you try to use the Air with a full bottle.
The results: The Air wasn’t able to chill the room-temperature wine down much, as the thermometer still read 67°F after 80 minutes. To be fair this gadget really isn’t meant to chill wine by tens of degrees. It does, however, shine when it comes to chilling reds to cellar temperature (65°F) and maintaining the temperature of an already chilled bottle, like if you bring a bottle of white out to the patio for dinner.
It has another cool feature, too: A portion of its cap comes off, revealing a spout. So, you can pour from the bottle without removing the Air, which “aerates your wine as you pour, introducing just the right amount of oxygen for your wine’s subtle flavors to really peak,” the company says. Will I be using this tool to quickly chill a bottle? No. I am, however, keeping it stashed in my freezer for what it’s actually intended for (chilling reds and maintaining temps of cold bottles).
Wine-Chilling Method: Vacu Vin Cooler
- Ease: 5
- Price: 3 (the Vacu Vin Cooler costs $22.87)
- Speed: 1 (at 54°F after 80 minutes)
- Rating: 2.5
The method: To use the Vacu Vin Cooler, you place its cooling sleeve (picture a floatie-shaped ice pack) in the freezer for at least six hours. When it’s time for happy hour, twist open the base of the Vacu Vin’s plastic outer shell, add the sleeve, and put the base back on. Then, you slip in a bottle of wine.
The results: The product’s listing says it “chills wine within 5 minutes and keeps it cold for hours.” However, I didn’t find this to be the case. After 80 minutes, the wine had dropped just 15 degrees. So, while, yes, it does work, it’s not as quick or thorough as needed. Again, I think this is another product that works well at maintaining the temperature of already-chilled wine, but not quickly chilling it.
Wine-Chilling Method: Damp Towel
- Ease: 5
- Price: 5
- Speed: 2 (at 49°F after 80 minutes)
- Rating: 3
The method: For this method, I thoroughly dampened a kitchen towel and wrapped it around the bottle of wine. Then, I placed the whole thing upright in the freezer.
The results: We all have a kitchen towel hanging around, right? I loved the simplicity of this method! The idea behind it is that the water in the damp towel will transfer heat more quickly away from the wine than just air, so the wine will chill quicker than if it was just placed in the freezer on its own. This did work — just more slowly than I wanted. After about 80 minutes, the wine was at 49°F, which is a few degrees away from the target temperature.
Wine-Chilling Method: Zip-Top Bag
- Ease: 3
- Price: 5 (assuming you already have some gallon-sized zip-top bags on hand)
- Speed: 4.5 (at 42°F at 20 minutes)
- Rating: 4
The method: I poured an entire bottle of room-temperature wine into a gallon-sized zip-top bag, placed it flat on a quarter sheet pan, and popped it in the freezer.
The results: After 10 minutes the wine was at 55°F, and after 20 minutes it was at 42°F. If you want to quickly chill a bottle, this works. However, you run into the issue of how exactly to serve this newly-chilled wine. I took the wine baggie and poured it through a funnel into a carafe. Of course this isn’t difficult, but it is an extra step and it does require the use of a plastic bag.
Wine-Chilling Method: Ice Water
The Method: I filled an ice bucket with ice and added enough cold water to ensure the bottle of wine would be almost entirely submerged.
The Results: While I waited and took the temperature of the wine, I periodically lifted the bottle up, agitated the ice bath, and set it back down. This worked fairly quickly and, while it was a touch slower than the above method, there was no decanting the wine into or out of a plastic bag. A win!
Wine-Chilling Method: Ice Water + Salt
The method: I filled an ice bucket with ice and added enough cold water to ensure the bottle of wine would be almost entirely submerged, then poured in two cups of salt.
The results: This was, hands-down, the fastest of all the methods. Again, I periodically lifted the wine bottle up, agitated the ice bath, and set it back down as I waited for the wine to chill. After just 15 minutes, the wine was perfectly chilled. Why does this work so well? Salt lowers water’s freezing point, which means that salty ice water gets colder than regular ice water. A win for science and chilled wine.
Do you have a favorite wine chilling method? Let us know in the comments!