Summer Hack: How to Chill a Bottle of Wine in 3 Minutes or Less

Gabrielle Savoie

Raise your glass if you've ever grimaced at a wine served at the wrong temperature. I, for one, enjoy my red wines cool (at 65 degrees) and my white wines cold (at 50 degrees). Room temperature—especially on a balmy New York night—will just not do. And while I will admit to dropping an ice cube or two in my glass (in a pinch, sue me), I know very well it's not the way to go—and it's certainly not the way to serve guests. But how do you actually chill a room temperature rosé when you want to drink it right now?

If anyone can tell you, it's a master sommelier. The exam to become one is the most gruesome test in the hospitality world—as anyone who's watched the documentary Somm (or passed the actual exam) can attest. With a pass rate of only 1%—one of the lowest in the world—it takes an unrivaled determination to even attempt this three-year process. Fewer than 200 people on the planet hold this extremely prestigious title, but Brian McClintic—Somm documentary film star and master sommelier—has earned his stripes under the watchful eye of a camera crew.

When I met McClintic at WildFlavor, a food and wine event at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, last month, I had to ask him one question: "What actually is the secret to chilling a bottle of wine in just a couple of minutes?" Summer is just around the corner, after all, and having been in a pinch many times myself, this was a self-serving question. "An ice water bath with plenty of salt," he explained. "Works like a charm. The full bottle should be submerged. It's hard to say how much salt—let's just say a liberal amount. What happens is the bottle is encased in ice and therefore comes down in temperature much more quickly." As it turns out, salt reduces the freezing point of water, which allows it to cool down further without turning into ice. To speed up the process, give the bottle a spin when submerged—it will cool down real quick.

Today, McClintic is far beyond his master sommelier examination days. A more debonair and bon vivant version of his former Somm self, he now runs Viticole, a wine subscription service born out of the idea that organically farmed, world-class wines can exist for $35 to $55 per bottle. Naturally, we had to ask him his favorite wines to drink this summer (all available through the Viticole wine club). Here is your ultimate master sommelier–approved drinking list this season—along with foods to pair them with. Cheers!

Next up: Choose the best wine on the menu every time with these nine tips.

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