October 28, 2011
Friends are on their way over, but your wine is warm: Here's a tip

polar bear.jpgI was tempted to say this is a cool new tip, but that would just be corny, although this is about chilling wine in a hurry. I just read it in Cook's Illustrated, which is always tackling geeky things to make our lives in the kitchen a little easier. Here it is:

To chill a bottle of wine, you can just pop it into the freezer, but it will take a while to cool down (in our tests, it took about an hour to bring a bottle of room-temperature wine to 50 degrees, the ideal drinking temperature). We've also recommended submerging the bottle in a salt/ice-water solution, which will chill it in about half that time. (When salt is added to ice water, its freezing point and temperature decrease to well below 32 degrees.)

Now we've discovered an equally effective (and less messy) technique for quick chilling: Simply wrap the bottle in a wet kitchen towel before placing it in the freezer. Since cooling occurs when heat is transferred away from an item, the water in the towel--a much more efficient conductor of heat than air--will quickly freeze, dropping the temperature of the wine to 50 degrees in only 30 minutes. (Note: Once the wine is fully chilled, the towel will be frozen solid. To release it from the bottle, just place it briefly under warm running water.)

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