Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Sacre Bleu! You forgot to put a bottle of wine in the fridge earlier! It takes a good 3 hours minimum to chill down a bottle of wine in a fridge, so how can you satisfy your urge for a nice chilled glass of wine, pronto? Here's all you need to know:
1. The Best Method: Fully submerge your bottle in iced water
It's no good if there's just ice in your bucket; you need cold water in there too so that as much of the surface area of your bottle is in contact with the icy cold water as possible. A bottle of wine fully submerged in ice water will chill down in around 15 minutes.
What about salt? You need handfuls of salt to keep the water cold so unless you're prepared to do this, I would skip it. However, if you're setting up a cool box that you want to keep cool for a longer period, then lots of salt will help achieve that, the physics of which is explained here.
2. The Risky Method: Freezer
If you don't have loads of ice, another tactic is to put the bottle in the freezer. SET A TIMER! This should only take 30 minutes. Do not leave your bottle in there for longer as you will eventually end up with frozen wine and cracked or even exploded glass.
Wrapping your bottle in a wet cloth before sticking it in the freezer? I've seen this doing the rounds as a life hack so I did a little research. Turns out this only works in a commercial blast freezer with lots of circulating air to evaporate the moisture. In a packed home freezer this isn't really the case. It's more likely to simply insulate your bottle from cooling down as quickly. So give that technique a miss.
3. The controversial method: Ice in the glass
Some people hate it, others love it. My view? For simple summery rosé or every day white wine that I'm drinking for chilled refreshment and planning to quaff away? Absolutely no problem. A fine wine I'm planning to savour with food - I wouldn't. The ice will melt and dilute the wine, and in many cases the wine doesn't need to be that cold anyway and probably shouldn't be. On another note, some simple summery Rosés can be on the slightly higher alcohol side (13%+), a quality that you will perceive more on a hot day, so a little bit of ice may even help to balance things out and lighten everything up.
It's also becoming more common to be even offered ice with your white or rosé in Mediterranean restaurant and bar terraces. Wine brands Moet and Freixenet have even launched products that are designed to be drunk over ice, supposedly taking into account the ice dilution and developing a flavour profile to suit, though more likely a very smart marketing move.
4. The Australian Method: The 'Tea Bag'
Aussie wine bloggers The Wine Wankers came up with this clever hack, which works if you just need one emergency glass of wine, while the rest of the bottle is chilling, perhaps.
Half fill your wine glass with ice (to measure the correct amount of ice)
Put that ice into a small plastic bag and put the ice bag in the glass.
Fill the glass to the top with wine.
Wait 3 minutes, remove the ice bag and voila!
Just be sure to use a clean bag!
5. The pre-planners method: Frozen Grapes.
Of course this requires foresight, the lack of which got us into this mess in the first place. However, it's a smart little trick because the grapes won't dilute your wine as ice cubes will. They are also quite delicious! Try it with Muscat grapes (if you don't mind seeds) - it makes a delicious little snack!
6. The Italian Method: Cold sliced peaches
Again, requiring a little foresight, but this is a beautiful way to serve simple white wines, as seen in Positano, Italy, as featured on The Londoner, where jugs of local fruity wine are topped with cold peaches. Again, like the ice, I wouldn't do it with all wines and not with anything oaked or aged. But for young, fruity wines I'm down. Here's a rule of thumb for you - apply a little 'what grows together, goes together' philosophy: if the wine is made where you would also imagine growing peaches, go for it. Fiano, Greco de Tufo, Falanghina, Verdicchio Dei Castelli Jesi etc.
Image from The Londoner
7. The Snobs Way: Old School Wine Etiquette
Some people in the industry (read: a few high profile, mouthy people on twitter) get cross when people hold their glasses by the bowl, not the stem. While I don't share their indignant anger, it is a good thing to bear in mind because a) it stops the bowl getting greasy and grubby and b) it does avoid the warmth of your hand heating up the wine. But don't worry if you forget - even Heads of State and Monarchs fall foul of #stemwatch at the best of times.
How not to hold your glass:
The other wine etiquette to observe is small pours. If an over zealous waiter or friend keeps trying to keep your glass topped up, bear in mind your wine will warm up faster in the glass than in the bottle. When in a restaurant this is often a trick to get you to re-order a bottle of wine faster than you otherwise would, so it's one to keep an eye our for anyway!
PS. A note on ideal serving temperature:
Red Wines: 12 - 16 degrees (a good deal less than a modern day room temperature, typically).
Whites Wines: 8-12 degrees (warmer than most fridges which are set to around 5 degrees).
Sweet & Sparkling Wines: 5-7 degrees (More like fridge temp).
In weather like this though, fridge temperature and below is just the ticket - light, summery reds will also shine when served around 8-12 degrees. Wine with oak influence, whether white or red would be served at the higher end of the recommended range.
Stay cool, wine lovers....