I Forgot to Chill My Champagne

by Wendy VanHatten


I know I’ve been in this situation. My guests are having a good time and I go to the refrigerator for the next bottle of bubbly. But…I forgot to chill it down.

When that happens, don’t panic. Here are a couple of ways to chill that bubbly before your guests even know what happened. According to my sommelier friends, they work.

Place your bottle in a bucket large enough to hold some ice all around it. Put the ice in a large bowl or another bucket. Sprinkle that ice with a palm full of regular table salt and stir it around to coat the ice. Pour the salt covered ice over the bottle. Fill the bucket with cold water. If you’re trying to chill down still wine, not bubbly, you can move the bottle around to help the process. If your wine came from your wine cellar or wine chiller, this will only take 7 to 10 minutes, possibly less. If it was warmer, it still should only take 10 to 15 minutes.

Another way you may have heard of is the dish towel method, which works with non-cotton dish towels. Wet and wring a linen dish towel, wrap around the bottle and throw in the freezer. If you don’t have a linen dish towel, just throw it in without the towel. The reason not to use cotton is that it is not a great thermal conductor and adds mass, which can actually slow down the cooling process. Make sure to lay the bottle horizontally, and you’ll have a cool bottle in 20-30 minutes.

Have you tried either of these? Did they work for you?