Really cool

There are fewer more bucolic images than those of fisherman relaxing on a riverbank, enjoying the beers they had left in the water to cool earlier. However, unless it is a mountain stream flowing down from cooler altitudes, it is unlikely the temperature will be low enough for the discerning drinker. So what do we do when we want to drink the contents but the bottle needs cooling down before we open it? A crisp white wine or cava at room temperature is ghastly to taste.

The expert will get an ice bucket and half fill it with ice cubes, top up with water, and throw in a couple of handfuls of salt. Guaranteed to bring any liquid down to single centigrade figures in a very short time - providing we have all that equipment to hand - but remember to put the bottle in up to its neck or the first glasses will not be cold enough.

There are those who swear by wrapping the bottle in a damp cloth and putting it in the freezer, but unsurprisingly the cloth acts as insulation, so cooling actually takes longer. It is also worth bearing in mind that a bottle cooled in a horizontal position takes half the time of one that is standing up.

It is really much quicker to cool wine in the glass, so best to keep a tray of ice cubes made from white wine in the fridge, or frozen grapes. In emergency situations we have to ignore aesthetics and just get the damned thing cold enough to drink. In-glass cooling is fast and practical but deprives the senses of the joy of seeing the liquid poured out. Nevertheless, a full glass put in a fridge will take minutes to cool, and if you use a plastic bag, faster still. Plastic is a better conductor than glass. If we have a competition the winner would be the wine transferred to a plastic bag and cooled in the freezer. But we aren't going to do that, are we? From personal experience the neatest and least complicated solution is to use those plastic gel-filled jackets that slide onto the bottle.