We Tested 3 Wine Chilling Hacks To See Which One Works Best

Unless you have exceptional planning skills (teach us your ways), this scenario will likely sound familiar: the table is set, dinner is in the oven, friends are popping by soon — and the rosé you picked out is sitting on the counter, still at room temperature. As they say in rosé's homeland, "Merde."
Ideally, rosé (or bubbly, or white wine) has a couple of hours to chill in the fridge before its opened. But, for those other times, we resort to desperate measures to get the wine cold, and fast. The internet (and our friends) will always suggest different methods, from trips to the freezer to ice baths. To see which ones really work when time is of the essence, I stacked them up side-by-side.
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The Test
I decided to test three different methods of fast-chilling wine, alongside a bottle directly in the fridge for comparison. To ensure that the results were as accurate as possible, I bought four bottles of the same exact kind of wine. I chilled the wine for fifteen minutes, then tested additional temperature drops every subsequent five minutes after that, using a rapid-read pen thermometer. The wine I used had a screw top, making it easy to re-test throughout.
The methods were as follows:
Ice Bath: Place a bottle of wine in a bucket deep enough to cover most of the bottle, then fill it in with ice, then top it off with water.
Freezer: This one is pretty self-explanatory: pop the wine directly into the freezer.
Freezer + Wet Dishcloth: By wrapping the wine in a wet dishcloth, you'll actually speed the cooling time.
Ideally, white wine should be enjoyed at around 49-55° F, which is probably a lot warmer than your fridge is keeping it (fridges are typically around 35-40° F), and thus, probably a lot warmer than you're used to drinking it. With that in mind, I kept an eye out for both recommended drinking temperatures as well as what what many drinkers are used to.

The Quick-Chill

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The first fifteen minutes made up the initial "quick chill" test when you need cold wine FAST. A much-heralded method is using a wet dishcloth wrapped around a bottle of wine to get it chilled rapidly, since water transfers temperatures faster than air. However, in my test, I actually found the wine in the dish towel chilled the second-slowest after the bottle that was just in the fridge. The coldest was actually the one placed just in the freezer. I was at first confused, since this ran counter to what I had read online. Then I realized that our freezer, fully stocked with Trader Joe's meals, bagged ice, frozen dumplings, and all the various, sundry leftovers, provided immediate chilling effects, whereas the cold (but not frozen) wet cloth took a while to chill. In fact, the wet cloth method only made it slightly colder than the bottle placed straight into the fridge. If I had placed the wine by itself on an empty freezer rack, the results might have varied.
The ice bath also got the wine down to nearly-exactly recommended drinking temperature in exactly 15 minutes.
4. Fridge: 62.1°
3. Dishcloth: 61°
2. Ice bath: 55.1°
1. The Winner: Freezer: 50°

The (Slightly Longer) Chill

After the 15-minute chill, I measured the temperature of the bottles every 5 minutes until it got to 30 minutes total chill time. The subsequent temperature tests showed the original order held, with a steady drop of 2-5 degrees every five minutes. However, at the end of 30 minutes, every method except for the fridge got the bottle below the recommended 55 degrees. The bottle just in the freezer got the coldest at the end, at 39°, while the ice bucket was close behind at 43.8°. The fridge only got down to 59°, losing only 3 additional degrees from the initial chill.
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4. Fridge: 59.3°
3. Dishcloth: 49°
2. Ice Bath: 43.8°
1. Still The Winner: Freezer: 39.4°

Conclusion

If you really want cold wine fast, try packing it in with a lot of cold things in your freezer — not just letting it sit by itself. However, the ice bath was a close second, and would have been fine to drink as soon as 15 minutes after putting it on the bucket. Considering that wine left in the freezer too long will eventually explode, it might be the safer method. However, it does require using a lot of ice and having a bucket on hand that will fit a bottle of wine, so it ultimately comes down to preference.
If you really need wine in a flash and can't even wait 15 minutes, consider mixing up wine spritzers for your guests — that's cold wine in as little as five minutes, no freezer time needed.
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