Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chilling white wines with salt?

Last weekend, I was hosting a party at home and some of my guests decided to arrive earlier to help me in my preparation. I suddenly realized that I am racing against time to cool down the white wines. Then, I remembered my college Physics about how salt will lower the freezing point of water (don’t ask why I thought of Physics in the middle of cooking), I quickly emptied half a packet of salt (the small packet that you can find from Cold Storage) into three wine buckets filled with ice cubes and some water. I left the 4th bucket with just ice cubes and water. With two digital thermometers that are always there to ensure that the wines are served at the ideal temperatures, I asked my guest take readings of the temperature of the two buckets – with and without salt. The results seem to prove that this theory has a direct application in this occasion. Here’s how it works:

First, we must all agree that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees C). So, those ice cubes we have in the bucket are supposed to be at the water freezing point. When salt is sprinkled onto the ice cube and water mixture, it lowers the freezing point of the mixture to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. So, ice cubes will begin to melt. As the salt water is diluted in the process, the freezing point start to rise and the water will refreeze but this time, the equilibrium temperature is lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Theoretically, the more salt we add, the lower the equilibrium temperature.

Now, back to our ice bucket experiment. I asked my guest to take temperature readings of the two different buckets in an interval of 1 minute for 10 minutes to get a statistical representation. The salted water bucket has an overall lower temperature than the unsalted water bucket. The delta is about 2 degrees C, and what impact does it have on the wine bottles? I suppose the ‘salt water bucketed’ white wine will be cooler than the ‘unsalt water bucketed’ white wine. Well, my guests seem to agree and we used up all the salt in my kitchen throughout the night!

Copyright of Wine Treasures Pte Ltd

By Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd



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