The Ice Bucket Mistake To Avoid While Chilling Wine

Whether it's a red or white wine, a reserve, or something from the lower shelf, you'll almost always have a better time drinking it if it's chilled. Cooling your wine can make its flavors shine, making the sweet and flowery notes more vibrant and even dulling some of the bitterness. That's why wine lovers often invest in fancy wine coolers, but if you don't have a special cooler and just want to have a nicely chilled bottle of wine ASAP, the age-old trick of giving it an ice bath still works!


It's straightforward as can be: Dunk your wine bottle into a bucket filled with ice, and in a few minutes, you'll have a perfectly chilled drink ready to enjoy. This trick also comes in handy when you want to keep your wine cool at a party until it's time to open it and serve.

The simplicity of the trick doesn't mean no one can get it wrong, though. Many people dump ice into the bucket first and then place their wine bottles on top (to the ire of many bartenders). When done this way, only the bottom half gets properly cold. The right way is to put the bottle into the bucket first, then shovel the ice in around it!

It's all about surface area

The order you put the ice and wine bottle in your bucket is crucial; if you start by placing the ice first in the bucket and then set the bottle on top, only the lower part of the bottle makes contact with the ice. So, only half the bottle — the part that makes direct contact with the ice — gets chilled. Meanwhile, the upper portion is still exposed to room temperature and, as such, will still be warm. The result is only a partially-cooled wine bottle that's only a bit cooler, but not nice and refreshingly chilled like you'd probably want it to be.


A far better approach is to put the bottle inside the empty bucket first. Then, add ice around it until the ice covers the bottle up to its neck. This ensures that the bottle is evenly surrounded by a coat of ice — a larger surface area in contact with the ice means heat can more quickly and evenly transfer away from your wine bottle — giving the wine a more consistent cooling effect.

Add water to the ice bucket for even faster cooling

For those moments when you need your wine chilled in a pinch, here's a pro tip: Once you've shoveled the ice into the bucket, top it with water. The icy water enhances the cooling effect by increasing the surface area in contact with the bottle even further, helping it chill faster. Just dunk your wine bottle neck-deep in the icy mix, and it'll hit the perfect sipping temperature in no time. Remember, also, to give the bucket a good stir after adding the bottle. This ensures that the water circulates evenly, giving every part of the bottle an equal chill.


Need your wine chilled even faster to drink with your dinner — whether that's a steak or chicken marsala – while it's still hot? Sprinkle a bit of salt into the ice water! Salt makes the water chill even more effectively by dropping its freezing point beyond the standard 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is this a fantastic and quick method to chill your wine, but we imagine it's also a neat conversation starter. Your guests will surely come around asking when you bring out your salt jar and sprinkle it into your wine-cooling bucket!