Sir Lunchalot: keeping it cool

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In the fourth instalment of our advice column, our in-house Agony Uncle advises on how to keep one’s cool in the heatwave – with tips on chilling bottles to perfection

Dear Sir,

It is unquestionably, unbearably, un-English-ly hot. I know we shouldn’t complain, but London transport is seething with very damp bodies; the fridge is packed with anything and everything so that it doesn’t compost on the counter – and I am left with not a drop of anything cold to drink when I need it most. Warm Sancerre offers little refreshment; nor indeed does gently cooked Malbec, for that matter. Please, I beg of you, can you help?

Yours, uncomfortably bothered and rather parched,

Ms White

Dear Ms White,

I feel your pain; particularly for the more portly among us, this weather is most disagreeable. In many ways, a trip to a conveniently close, and ideally air-conditioned, pub (if it isn’t one of the many establishments struggling with the same issues) is altogether more inviting.

The priority, at least for me, is a plentiful supply of ice for G&Ts (if you have the freezer space, pop the glasses in there too to “frost”, offering maximum chill-factor) – because quite frankly there is little that is more refreshing after a ride on the sweltering Central Line than the bite of gin.

If anything needs urgently chilling down, the best thing to do is this: take an ice bucket (or any large receptacle – even the sink or bath, with sufficient ice supplies), fill it with ice cubes, top it up with water and chuck in a couple of handfuls of salt. The water is essential, meaning the surface area of the bottle is actually in contact with something cold, and ice will keep it cooler longer (bringing the water temperature to below 0°C) Chuck a (still sealed) bottle of wine in, and – provided it is nothing too delicate, an old wine, for example – give the bottle a shake intermittently (this will mean not only the liquid closest to the glass, and thus the ice, gets cold, so the whole bottle will chill more quickly).

Unless you have an actual cellar or fancy Eurocave, pretty much any reds will need chilling down in this weather. The old fashioned “room temperature” is much lower than homes that have soaked up the day’s rays (or one that benefits from central heating, for that matter). Twenty minutes in the fridge should bring a red down sufficiently (a little less, the more structured the wine); remember it will warm up quickly once on the table (or when a glass is cupped by your possibly sweaty palms).

In absolute emergencies, there is another option (although not one we at Berry Bros. & Rudd could possibly recommend): the freezer. It’s rather dangerous (especially with sparkling wine), as pressure can build in the bottle and cause it to explode – far from ideal for that Montrachet you were looking forward to with your Dover sole. But, I’ll leave that in your judicious hands…

Should you have a question of your own for Sir Lunchalot, please do email us or leave it in the comments section below.