Expert Tips for Storing and Chilling Wine
As a collector of wine for almost 20 years, I’ve learned a few things about storing and serving wine. The tips below are helpful for anyone, regardless of your wine storage capacity at home. They’ve come in handy at many times during my life, whether I’ve had a temperature-controlled wine cellar or not. I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I have.
Tip: How to keep wine cool without a wine cellar or fridge
One of the best discoveries I made was while I lived in Australia bearing one of their notoriously hot summers. I was storing my beloved Penfoldscollection at my first apartment which was nearly as warm inside as it was outside. I tried many tactics to keep the bottles cool, from wrapping them in aluminum foil, covering them in towels, I even tried storing them in the bathtub… which I don’t recommend. That’s when the lightbulb went off, store the wine bottles in terracotta pots!
It might sound crazy, but it works! You can pick up terracotta pots at any local home improvement store. The reason this works so well is that porous clay is naturally cooling. In fact, it was used to cool food and beverages long before refrigeration existed. Place a towel over the pot with the wine inside to protect it from sunlight. If the pot needs extra cooling, add a small amount of sand and water to the bottom of the pot. The evaporation cools the inside of the pot even further. I’ve even used this trick as overflow for wine that won’t fit in my Eurocave.
Tip: How to preserve the label on a wine bottle
I’ve seen many labels begin to fade and even lose their adhesive over time. But in all honesty, I use this next tip most often when I have a very special signed bottle that I want to keep intact. Say you have that precious bottle of 2015 Kerr Cellars Reserve Red signed by Cristie Kerr. Even if it’s in a temperature-controlled cellar, you still want to keep it safe. Wrap the entire bottle in Cling wrap, this will protect the label and wine forever. I have done this for years and it works perfectly.
Tip: How to quickly chill a bottle of wine
We’ve all been there, you’re in the mood for a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc and none of your bottles are chilled. No one has time to wait for it to cool in the fridge and putting it in the freezer is risky… and still slow compared to what I’m about to tell you.
Grab an ice bucket and fill it halfway with cold tap water and then to the brim with ice. Submerge your bottle in the ice water. Now, here’s the important part, sprinkle the top with lots of salt. Kosher salt is perfect for the job, but any salt will work. The salt reacts with the ice water mixture, snap freezing the top of the ice bucket. Your wine will be chilled to perfection in 10-15 minutes.
Tip: How to quickly chill a glass of red wine
This is a trick I learned years ago while enjoying one of those rare summer days in London. A friend of mine opened a lovely bottle of 1995 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, one of the great wines of Bordeaux. As I sipped the wine, I knew it had all the right signs of brilliance, but it was too warm to fully enjoy. I grabbed a fresh, empty glass and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. The glass cooled down quickly and I poured the wine into the chilled glass. It immediately dropped the temperature of the wine to the perfect degree. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this trick since.
Wine is one of those extraordinary things that we’ll do anything to enjoy properly. You might need to get creative at times. But as I’ve learned, where there’s a will to drink wine, there’s a way to do it well!
Written by Matthew Lane, Kerr Cellars Executive Vice President