Contrary to popular belief, you’re not supposed to drink red wine at room temperature or white wine straight out of the refrigerator. Most whites taste best after being allowed to warm up about twenty minutes after being removed from the fridge, and your better Chardonnays and White Burgundies really shine at cellar temperature, which is about 55°. Red wines generally drink best at close to 65°, which unless you live in my grandparents’ old house, probably is a bit colder than room temperature.
So the easy rule of thumb is to take white wine out of the refrigerator twenty minutes before you eat and put red wine in the fridge at the same time. But easy isn’t exact, and this is after all a techie blog. Let’s add a little rigor to the process!
Enter, my trusty Thermapen instant read thermometer. I reviewed this incredibly useful piece of tech here on Gear Diary in the years before the Great Server Crash of Aught-Eight, so that post is lost to the ages, but here’s a link to another article I wrote about Thermapen at another site.
As you can see, the Thermapen is not only good at telling you how hot something is, but it will also let you know when your wine has reached optimal drinking temperature. That’s where the new Bottle on Ice Wine Cooler comes into play.
Available in four fun colors, Bottle on Ice is basically a portable ice bucket to get your bottle of wine to the proper temperature and keep it there. It would also make a great gift bag to give along with a bottle of Pinot Gris as a host gift at a pool party.
Made from thick insulating plastic, one of the only drawbacks I discovered with this product was a slightly unpleasant smell when I first unwrapped it. But then I recognized this as being exactly the same aroma of an inflatable raft or beach ball purchased from a cheap beachside gift shop, so suddenly it became nostalgic instead of disagreeable.
So how does Bottle on Ice perform compared to my tried and true method of popping the bottle in the fridge prior to opening? The results were surprising. I followed the instructions printed on the side of the bag and added just a few cubes of ice until the bag was filled about 1/8 of the way up. Then I filled the bag with water up to about the ¼ point and placed the bottle in the bag. The insulation on the bag is apparently excellent, so there was very little condensation or sweating through the sides. That would have been a real deal-breaker for me. In fact, the insulation actually prevents the last bit of water from evaporating after cleaning, so you’d probably want to store your Bottle on Ice inverted to help it dry out.
In my attempt to introduce some precision to my scientific method, I inverted each bottle before taking a temperature reading in order to bring the colder water to the top where I could measure it in the neck of the bottle with the Thermapen. After just five minutes in the Bottle on Ice, the temperature of my sample had dropped from 76° to 68°. Five more minutes brought the temp down seven more degrees and after fifteen minutes total, the wine was right at the sweet spot of drinkability at 59°.
By comparison, my control bottle that I left out on the counter had only dropped two degrees over the same time period and was still a tepid 73°. Clearly, that’s no way to make the wine more drinkable. But what about just sticking the bottle in the shelf in the door of my refrigerator? Since most bottles are too tall to fit in the other shelves of my fridge, the door is where I try to cool them.
Surprisingly, this did not prove to be a very effective method. Fifteen minutes in the door only dropped the temperature of the wine by nine degrees to 70°. It took a half hour to even get it down to 65°, which would still have been a little warm for my taste.
I figured that maybe the door wasn’t the best place to cool my wine down, so I laid the bottle down on the main shelf between the eggs and beer. Perhaps my fridge is overloaded with beer, but this actually turned out to be an even worse way to cool the wine down. Thirty minutes only subtracted eight degrees from the temp and left me with some lukewarm wine.
Bottle on Ice is actually a very effective way to chill your wine and keep it cold as you transport it from place to place. The retail for $11.99 including free shipping at the company’s website. In fact they were kind enough to send an extra sample for us to giveaway to a lucky reader.
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell us the name of some good bottle of wine you’ve discovered lately. We’ll draw a lucky winner and you’ll be the owner of your own Bottle on Ice. All you have to do is invite us all to your next pool party!
Bottle on Ice wine cooler bag
What I liked: Fun, effective way to get your wine to drinking temperature and keep it there.
What Needs Improvement: Slightly funky plastic smell. Difficult to dry out after using.