Just in Time for the Holidays—How to Chill a Bottle of White Wine ASAP

White wine is best chilled, but sometimes chilling room temperature wine in a rush can be a challenge. With some everyday household items and a bit of advice from wine experts, there are ways to cool a bottle of white in less time than you think.


Need a cold glass of Riesling ASAP? Wine expert Mark Oldman, author of How to Drink Like a Billionaire: Mastering Wine With Joie de Vivre, says the first thing to do is fill a third of an ice bucket with ice. “Next, add water,” advises Oldman. “This oft-neglected step is done to create an ice bath that will submerge the bottle up to its neck. The water fills the air pockets between the cubes and pulls heat away from the wine faster than the ice alone. Mixing water with ice also makes it much easier to maneuver the wine in and out of the ice bucket.”

Then consider adding salt. “If possible, add a few fistfuls of salt to the mix,” Oldman continues. “Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water.”

Finally, he said, add your bottle and gently spin it at first and after a few minutes to ensure that all of the wine is exposed to the ice bath.

“In 10 minutes, you wine will be chilled,” affirms Oldman.

Katie Owen, wine director of Winc, a direct-to-consumer online winery, said you can chill a bottle of white using a paper towel and your freezer. “I have found the quickest way to chill a white wine is to wet a paper towel, wrap the wet paper towel around the wine bottle, and then stick the wine bottle in the freezer,” Owen says, “In about 10 minutes the wine should be properly chilled.”

Another unexpected idea is to drop frozen grapes into your wine glass to cool the temperature of your wine, recommends an article on epicurious.com.

You Shouldn‘t Store White Wine in the Fridge

Although it may seem convenient to store white wine in the refrigerator, experts say to skip that idea. Charles Smith, a winemaker is Seattle, says what wine really wants is a dark place with no dramatic temperature shifts and no vibration. In most cases, your closet—or even a north-facing wall that doesn’t get direct sun—works just fine, he says.

“Temperature is, by far, the most important thing to consider when storing wine in your home, but most of us are doing it wrong. It shouldn’t be put in the fridge for longer than it needs to be.” Smith continues. “”Never keep your wine in the refrigerator. It seems really convenient because you want to keep it cool, but it only takes about 20 minutes in the freezer to do the same thing.”

If you have some advance notice, an hour or two in the fridge—or about 20 minutes in the freezer—should be all you need to cool your wine to the right temperature, he says.

Why White Wine Should Be Chilled (But Not Ice Cold)

Also, keep in mind you don’t want white wine too cold. “Good white wine shouldn’t be too cold, by the way,” says Keith Wallace, president and founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia and author of Corked & Forked: Four Seasons of Eats and Drinks. “It should be served slightly chilled. We chill white wine because it usually has a higher level of acidity, which makes white wine taste more like fresher fruit than a red wine. The chill accentuates that fresh fruit flavor.”

Higor Valle, sommelier at The Continental in Naples, Florida, says red and white wines have different chemical compositions that behave and respond differently under certain circumstances. ‘”The way we perceive them on nose and palate is also different, and temperature is one of the most important factors that will influence or vary this perception,” Valle says. “White wine has a higher proportion of interesting chemicals such as aldehydes, esters, and terpenes that are easier to detect at lower temperature. Aromatic varietals such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc will display their signature notes better when chilled [fruit, organic, and non-organic notes: think of green apples, citrus, and slate on Rieslings and grapefruit, fresh herb, and chalk on sauvignon blanc] and it will also accentuate the acid, enhancing the freshness and crisp note on these wines. Around 46 degrees F would be a recommended temperature.”

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.