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.
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!