What's the best way to chill a bottle of wine before I serve it?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What do I do to keep Zinfandel wine cold before opening it?

—Lise P., Riverdale Park, Md.

Dear Lise,

A food refrigerator is perfectly acceptable for chilling down a bottle of wine before serving it, I just don’t suggest you use one for long-term storage. The inside of a standard refrigerator is cooler than recommended wine serving temperatures, so you can take the bottle out, say, 30 to 60 minutes before serving and it should be fine. Alternatively, an ice bucket—or something close to an ice bucket, like a big bowl—filled with a combination of ice and water will get a bottle chilled down in 20 to 30 minutes. Some folks invest in a wine cooler, which looks like a small refrigerator and will keep wines at a perfect serving temperature.

You’ve asked about Zinfandel in particular, which I want to point out is typically a red wine, and red wines are usually served closer to room temperature than whites. Too cold, and their flavors become muted. You might be thinking of “white” or rosé Zinfandels, and in that case, yes, they’re often served chilled like a white wine. It should be pretty easy to figure out by looking at the bottle if you’re dealing with a red version or a pink version!

—Dr. Vinny

Serving Wine Rosé Red Wines Zinfandel Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

If a cork gets pushed into a wine bottle, is the wine ruined?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny puts a reader's fears to rest and offers tips for how to …

May 24, 2019

How do you clean wineglasses to a spot-free, clear shine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for cleaning fine stemware.

May 22, 2019

What does the word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "unctuous," typically ascribed to …

May 20, 2019

Are collectible wines still collectible after the wine has gone bad?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks to Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago about 50-year-old …

May 17, 2019

Why aren't bottles stored on their sides at wine stores?

Wine's Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine bottles need to be stored on their …

May 15, 2019

Is there a polite way to tell a winemaker that I'm not enjoying their wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny suggests a few etiquette tips for kindly declining an …

May 13, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search