Chill out

The love of cold drinks is almost as old as civilization. There are ruins of ancient Chinese ice houses and 20-foot high conical structures with deep interior pits where Persians stored ice. When Alexander the Great conquered India, 30 ice pits were dug to chill his drinks. And by the 1st century AD, iced beverages, chilled with snow and ice from Italian mountain tops, were all the rage for wealthy Romans.

For millennia, cold beverages were only a dream for the lower classes. All that changed in 1873 when Carl von Linde, a worker at the Spaten Brewery in Munich, devised a system to mechanically produce ice. For him, the invention was in pursuit of better beer. Those of us who favor chilled wine are beneficiaries also.

If you wish, feel free to fill these beautiful antique wine coolers with snow. But, thanks to von Linde, ice is a lot more convenient. Unlike earlier civilizations whose choice was to keep only sweet wines chilled, today we can satisfy our desire for reds to be at “cave” temperatures, too.

For last minute get-togethers, fill your cooler 2/3 full of ice.  Next, add cold water to the top of the ice level and mix in a handful of table salt to lower the freezing temperature. Then, submerge your wine bottles upright. Wait 2 minutes for perfectly chilled red and 7 minutes for frosty white.

Then raise a glass and enjoy your Holidays.

Dutch Wine Cooler above
23″ X 17″ X 8″
Date/Circa:  1780