A Simple Guide to Chilling Wine
Sometimes even the simplest tasks require a complex approach. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about chilling wine as it is not one of those tasks. Just stick to some basic guidelines, and you can serve wine at the optimal temperature like a pro.
But to get there, you need to arm yourself with some knowledge on how to properly chill wine.
First, and most important of all, not all wines can be chilled at the same temperature because they don’t share the same chemical composition. Dessert wines contain various amounts of sugar, red wines are largely influenced by their tannins, whereas acidity is the backbone of all white wines. And in the middle of it all is the temperature that can accentuate or mute wine, based on those characteristics.
Let’s begin with the optimal temperatures.
Fortified and Red Wine
Most red wines need to be chilled at temperatures ranging from 55°F to 65°F, whereas fortified wines such as Madeira and Port are better at temperatures ranging from 60°F–65°F.
If the red wine is too cold, it will feel dull, and if it is too warm it will taste alcoholic and flabby.
Light-bodied red wines such as Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley whose acidity is high, are better suited with lower temps. Ideally, they need to stay in the fridge for about 90 minutes before being consumed.
If it is a full-bodied, tannic wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley or Bordeaux, they don’t need to be chilled that much. For them, it is best to keep them in the fridge for around 45 minutes before consuming them.
Sparkling Wine, Rosé, and White Wine
Same as with reds, whites need to be chilled to their optimal temperature if you want to get the best of them. If they are too cold, their flavors won’t be identifiable.
Burgundy and Chardonnay need to be chilled on temperatures ranging from 50°F to 60°F. The same temperature range is optimal for Sauternes as well.
Fruitier and lighter wines are best chilled at temperatures ranging from 45°F to 50°F. That’s around two hours in your home fridge. Italian wines such as a Sauvignon Blanc wine and Pinot Grigio also share the same temperature range.
Sparkling wines need to be chilled on temperatures that range from 40°F to 50°F. That’s optimal because, within that temperature range, the CO2 is being trapped. Premium Champagnes and Vintage sparkling wines are better chilled at the higher end of the temperature range. That’s because of their weight and complexity. Then there are light-bodied white wines such as Prosecco that are better chilled at the lower end of the given temperature range.
How to properly chill wine?
The key thing here is advanced planning. That way when the guests arrive or when the dinner is ready, your wine is perfectly chilled. The biggest risk is to forget a bottle or multiple bottles in the ice maker. The biggest risk here is that the water can push the cork or the bottle can crack. If that happens, you can kiss your bottle goodbye. So, if you don’t want that to happen, set a timer. That’s the best cure for forgetfulness.
How to chill wine fast?
So yes, you can speed up the process. To do so you need to place the wine bottle into a container of some kind or bucket. Then add ice, water, and table salt. The ice can absorb the heat from the water which will lower the temperature in the container, whereas the salt can lower the freezing point of the water under 32F.
Using this method you can chill a bottle of rose in just 15 minutes.
If you are really in a race with time, pour a glass of wine and let it chill in the refrigerator. Due to its smaller mass, it will chill faster than an entire bottle.
Well, as mentioned in the beginning, chilling wine is no rocket science and it shouldn’t be approached as a science project. It is a simple task that only calls for proper timing and some consideration on your side. And by consideration, we mean the temperature ranges for the particular wine groups. When you got that covered, the only thing left is to enjoy your wines alone or with other people. So cheers to a well-chilled wine!