The Fastest Way to Chill a Bottle of Wine (for Celebratory Emergencies!)
Today: How to chill a bottle of wine so quickly, your guests won’t even notice their glasses are empty.
You can prepare all you want for a party — make lists, buy bags of ice, chill your wine, make everything in advance — and still find yourself, a little after 10 PM, with a room full of thirsty people and a fridge that’s been raided of all its chilly Grüner or Prosecco. Here is how you fix that problem:
To chill a bottle of wine in a jiffy, you just need an ice bucket — or a less classy but equally large receptacle — plus some ice, water, and lots of salt.
First, toss your ice with a handful or two of salt, and distribute it evenly. Place your bottle in whatever vessel you’re using, then dump the ice over it. (If you’ve been drinking, you will spill some ice. Accept this.) Pouring ice over a bottle is much easier than trying to shove a wide bottle butt into a bucket of ice.
Then fill your bucket with cold water, as high as the neck of the bottle, so that it is surrounded by a mixture of salty, ice-filled water.
Why does this work? In order for your wine to cool, heat (energy) needs to move out of the bottle and into its surroundings — which is why you surround it with cold things. Liquid transfers heat more quickly than the pockets of air that sit between ice cubes, which is why water is key here. The salt helps to lower the freezing point of your ice-water mixture — in the same way that you salt your driveway in winter. This way, there’s more ice melting in the mixture; melting requires energy, and the closest place to find that energy is your bottle. Energy leaving your wine more quickly means chilled wine, tout de suite.