Cool Wine Fast With A Wet Tea Towel

Cool Wine Fast With A Wet Tea Towel

Need to chill a bottle of white wine quickly before dinner? Wrap it in a wet tea towel, pop it in the freezer, and it will easily be cold enough to drink within an hour.

I’ve frequently used this trick to get wine into a chilled state in a hurry. The trickiest part of the process is removing the tea towel, which will be frozen on — run it under a cold water tap to help dislodge it, and then hang it somewhere to dry while you enjoy your drink.

Wine purists will point out that you don’t want to drink better wines at an absolutely ice-cold temperature, as some of the subtle flavour variations will be wiped out by the overwhelming sense of cold, so you don’t need to aim for hours of chilling to get the right effect.


  • For those who are far too busy for the above method: Fuss free way to chill wine/champagne and leave tea towel unmolested.

    Open freezer, push bottle in between frozen packets & stuff, shut freezer.

    Come back in 30 minutes or so.

  • big bowl or sink, half full of water. quite a bit of salt, like, 5 tablespoons. as much ice as you can fit.
    chuck in the bottle of whatever it is that you need to chill.
    the salt dissolving in the water lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, which will now start to melt fairly fast. as the ice melts, it draws the heat out of your bottle of stuff that’s chilling. the water gets very, very cold.
    chilled wine in less than 5 minutes.

    to jon – ethanol freezes at -114° celcius. adding water to the mix raises the freezing temperature, but because the freezing point is so low, most household freezers, which go down to -18°, have trouble freezing anything alcoholic. some will, after a very long time, but an hour isn’t anywhere near long enough.

    speaking from gelato making experience, adding anything alcoholic is best done as close to serving as possible, because once you add it, it’s hard to keep the gelato frozen (at home)

    • I didn’t say it would freeze solid, I said it would start to freeze. The ethanol content of the average bottle of wine is < 100ml which leaves a lot of water in there to freeze.

  • I’ve been in a rush to chill some wine/beer a shameful amount of time, never using this method though. I’ve left wine and beer in the freezer for 3-4 hour easily without it freezing (intentionally for the beer, just forgetfulness with the wine :-P). Beer just gets to the point where you can do the ‘freezing beer’ party trick. I’ve managed to freeze wine but only having it in there overnight.

    The reason a tea towel method works (presumably, I’ll do a test next time there is a need for more than one bottle of wine) is because water has a higher thermal conductivity than air, and even higher conductivity again when it turns to ice. This gives you a cooling advantage when you consider the exponential nature of temperature transfer (dT/dt = k ΔT) which will end up cooling the glass faster than simplily air, providing the mass of the water in the tea towel is kept to a minimum.

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