News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 8, 2014

Grape Sense: Practical, stylish ways to chill your favorite wine

Howard W. Hewitt
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — A bag of ice or the fridge can keep your wines chilled for any summer outing as easy as any geeky wine device. But if you want something practical and even stylish for summer picnics there are lots of ways to chill your favorite beverage.

Wine education should always include some discussion on the proper serving temperature for red and white wine. A general rule of thumb is most people serve white too cold and red too warm. If you put your lighter bodied red wines in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, just to drop them to the upper 60-degree range, you’ll be surprised how bright the fruit will taste.

The proper chilling temperature for white wine is a bit trickier. I recommend putting the bottle in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. You’ll have to experiment. But a word of warning comes with the kitchen appliance solution. Over-chilled wines will not have the same mouth feel or fruitiness as when you get the temperature just right. You want reds in the high 60s, while near 60 is a good temperature for your whites.

But if you’re hosting guests on the patio, picnic table or porch, those wines will warm up in a hurry. A bucket of ice will do the trick but there are some inexpensive solutions which are stylish and fun.

The first of the many outdoor wine chillers is simply the wine bag. These are often give-aways for wineries, wine-related promotions and such. It’s a simple heavy plastic bag big enough for a wine bottle, water and ice. The wine bags are inexpensive, usually about $10. I’ve been given several through the years and they are eye catching on the outdoor table. Perhaps it’s been my bad luck, but the 4 or 5 I’ve tried have all leaked and they’re messy.

The next step up in the bag approach is “Chill It Bags” in colorful combinations and walls made of a safe chemical freezing component. You just throw them in the freezer and they’ll keep your wine in great shape. The downside to these bags is when they freeze you must be careful in opening them back up for your bottle of wine. If you force a bottle into a frozen bag you will probably damage the bag. These bags come in multiple sizes and colors and work well. They are also very affordable at less than $10 up to the mid teens.

The insertable chill devices have been big the past couple of years. The insert device is often marketed as wine chiller, winesickle and more. The devices have a long post which you freeze then insert into the wine. Most have a pour top or a pour/aerator top for a non-messy chilling and glass of wine. The insertable chill devices are usually under $20.

The last chiller is by far the most expensive but guarantees no mess. The Angle33 cement chiller does a great job with style. Yes, it is made of poured cement and weighs about seven pounds.  You put the cement chiller in the fridge for 45 minutes, stick the bottle in the cool concrete and your wine will stay nicely chilled for a long while — no water or ice! The downside to the cement chiller is price at $64.99.

So no matter whether you use one of these nifty devices or a bucket and ice, get outside and enjoy those summer white and dry rose’ wines!

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes about value wine every other week for more than 20 Midwestern newspapers.