When you don't have time to wait for a bottle of wine to chill in the refrigerator, here is a method to cool it down in a hurry.
In the summer months, we tend to get busy tending the grill—and often forget to pop a bottle of wine in the fridge before company comes over. Here’s a way to chill beverages in a hurry, borrowed from a method for making ice cream in an old-fashioned churn: Make an ice bath and add salt to it. When ice cubes are placed in plain water, they will absorb heat from their surroundings until they melt at 32 degrees. When salt is added to the mix, the freezing point and temperature decrease, lowering the ice’s melting temperature (which is the same as its freezing temperature) to well below 32 degrees. The result is a brine significantly colder than plain ice water that can rapidly chill or even freeze liquids (such as cream for ice cream).
To find out just how quickly an ice brine works, we chilled three bottles of 75-degree white wine in three different environments: in the freezer (the usual desperate approach to quick chilling); submerged in a 50-50 mix of ice and plain water; and submerged in 1 quart water mixed with 4 quarts ice with 1 cup table salt stirred in. We checked the temperature of each wine every 5 minutes to see how quickly it reached 38 degrees (the typical temperature of chilled beverages in the fridge). The wine in the ice brine took 34 minutes, compared with 67 minutes in the freezer and 105 minutes in the plain ice water.
The next time we need to transform a drink from lukewarm to icy cold, we’ll reach for the salt.
| CHILLING METHOD | MINUTES TO REACH 38° | | --- | --- | | Salted Ice Water | 34 minutes | | Freezer | 67 minutes | | Plain Ice Water | 105 minutes |