How Long To Chill Wine (White Or Red) In The Fridge For The Best Results

In a perfect world, we'd all have expansive wine refrigerators with a broad array of wines chilled to the ideal temperature, all set to pair with any meal. But since most of us live in the real world, we're just as likely to buy a room-temperature bottle on our way to pick up carryout, leaving us setting timers so we don't accidentally have an exploded bottle we forgot to remove from the freezer. On days when we can plan ahead, knowing how long it will take to chill your wine in the refrigerator can be helpful.

Both whites and reds (and rosés, of course) benefit from being served cooler than room temperature. Sparkling wines should generally be served the coldest – around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. White wines are best around 45-55 degrees; there's a range here because lighter whites can be served cooler than fuller-bodied whites. Light-bodied reds fare best when served around 55 degrees, and full-bodied reds around 60 degrees. While there are quicker methods for chilling wine, there's none easier than getting them in the refrigerator with enough time to chill to the proper temperature. Here's a hint: It's probably longer than you think.

How long will it take to chill wine in the refrigerator?

When we polled Tasting Table readers about their favorite way to chill wine, putting it in the refrigerator won by a landslide. Getting wine chilled to the ideal serving temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit takes about two-and-a-half hours. White wines will take about three hours in the refrigerator to reach the proper temperature of roughly 45 degrees. 

It's worth noting that not all parts of your refrigerator are equally cold. The refrigerator door tends to be warmer than the interior shelves, so if your wine is there, it may take a little longer to be properly chilled. Also, if you're opening your refrigerator a lot, the interior temperature will rise, which means your wines need a little extra time to chill, so chase away hungry but indecisive looky-loos. 

If you're seriously pressed for time, the quickest method for chilling wine is in an ice bucket filled with ice water and some salt, which will bring reds to the right temperature in just 10 minutes and whites in a mere 20 minutes. The freezer will work, too, though you should always set a timer to remind you when it's time to take the bottles out. Reds need about 40 minutes in the freezer, and whites need roughly an hour.