Reader mailbag: chill out

Salil in Singapore: Was just wondering about whether it’s OK to keep a bottle of white wine in a freezer for a short period of time (e.g., 10-15 minutes). We’re quite fond of having a lot of our white wines very cold (particularly in the tropical summer heat in Singapore).

HG in Moscow: how long can/should you keep a white wine in the fridge?

* * *

Purists would probably say that wine should slowly be brought down to cellar temperature. Although they’re right, it’s not always practical.

Around the Dr. Vino world headquarters, when the summer heat is on and no bottle is sufficiently cold, we often use a gel sleeve from the freezer. But the tried and true method from the restaurant trade is a bucket of ice, water and a fistful of salt (don’t ask me why the salt). That will chill a bottle in 10 minutes. The freezer works but it’s just air surrounding the bottle and water actually wicks the heat out of the bottle’s core faster.

How long should that sauvignon blanc be rolling around on the bottom shelf of the fridge? Well, hopefully not too long. Ideally, try to stick it in the fridge 60-90 mins before serving. The trouble with leaving the bottle in there for days on end is that it is then served too cold. The average fridge is 38 degrees (3 deg C) but serving a white wine at those temperatures can really mute the aromas–those purists with their cellars really have the ideal temperature (55 F; 13 C). If it’s just been a day then you can uncork, pour, wait a few minutes and the wine will warm up sufficiently. But if it’s been in the fridge for a month, it might have lost something. Try the ice water and salt trick instead.

One last note on chilling wines is that it’s not for whites alone. I mentioned chilling a syrah recently and that made it a better summer red. Similarly, cru Beaujolais or other light reds can make for chilled summer refreshment.

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One Response to “Reader mailbag: chill out”


  1. The salt causes the water to have a lower freezing point, so it can actually be colder than zero degrees and thus cool the bottle faster, or something like that…


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