Storing wine has its caveats – it stands to reason that serving wine does too. The temperature of wine makes a marked difference to how it tastes, and while the ideal temperature ranges of reds, whites and rosé vary, the universal similarity is that they’re all better served chilled. But how to maintain that temperature once the bottle’s out in the open, being poured out between intermissions and as glasses run empty?
It’s all very well to bring out a bottle fresh from your wine cooler or cellar, but it’s actually a bit of a faux pas to serve some wines straight out of cooled storage, or leave them lying about at room temperature for too long, even though making sure they stay chilled and delicious is just as crucial to make sure you enjoy every sip. It feels like the dilemma of all dilemmas, but thankfully, our ancestors had anticipated this very problem, and come up with an enduring solution we still use today – ice buckets.
Whether you’re using one to keep ice cubes ready and at hand for champagne or soda glasses going around, or you’re planning to keep a bottle of wine chilled as your meal and the conversation flows, the right ice bucket can make the job so much easier. Specifically, we’re looking at insulated ice buckets – double-walled options that come with two layers making up the exterior, separated by a vacuum or gas to keep the chill inside from escaping. Here are our top picks for the best insulated ice bucket.
Oggi Double Wall Ice Bucket
A modern, stylish ice bucket that will not only complement and enhance your table setting but also makes sure your ice doesn’t readily melt, our top pick is a stainless steel and acrylic option equipped with a steel scoop for picking out ice more efficiently than possible with most tongs. Capable of holding roughly 4 quarts of ice, this bucket also works just as well to keep a bottle of wine chilled and at the ready for 2 to 3 hours on end, making sure it is serve-ready when you need it without anyone needing to leave the table or picnic spread for the cooler in the middle of a meal. The double wall construct of the bucket keeps ice from melting as quickly, with a flip top you can flick closed if you’re using the bucket to store up ice for your punch bowl or bar.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Wine Enthusiast Iceless Wine Bottle Chiller
We love the clean, minimalistic but stylish flair of this bottle chiller – which makes our job easier for us by not actually requiring any ice to keep our wine cool, so we don’t have to deal with fighting for space in the chiller to get our bottle to seat into the cubes, and all those puddles of melted ice. Simply take out you pre-chilled bottle of wine from the fridge or wine cooler and place it into the chiller, the insulating double walls keeping heat from trickling in or the cold from leeching out.
The insulation prevents any condensation from slicking up the outside and melting into a puddle on your table, with no soaking through the tablecloth or leaving rings in your wooden picnic bench or bar top, keeping your drink perfectly cool for up to three hours straight. The clear acrylic of the chiller gives the same clean cut impression we’d expect from a glass jar, but with the durability, toughness and flexibility we love in this transparent thermoplastic, and a polished stainless steel rim to tie together the classy modern feel. Thermal insulated and with an ingenious design both aesthetically and functionally, this chiller is a great value for money grab, earning its place despite being a bit of a cheat, considering it’s technically not an ice bucket.
LUCKYGOOBO Mini Stainless Steel Ice Bucket Portable
Combining a classic, timeless design that goes well be it on your minibar or your dinner table, this stainless steel, chrome finish ice bucket comes with a pair of tongs just right for picking out ice cubes and a custom holder on the lid to hook it to. The lid also comes with a classic sizeable knob to lift it off, with a sturdy carry handle attached to the sides of the bucket, so you can actually carry a bucket of ice with you for an outdoor picnic or backyard dinner with ease.
We love the inclusion of the strainer lid to let melting ice trickle off, so you’re not left fishing for ice cubes swimming in water if you’re going to use this to stock up on ice – which isn’t going to melt anytime soon either, thanks to the double wall insulation of this rugged but tasteful bucket. Capable of holding up to over a liter of ice, this bucket is also perfectly suited for keeping a chilled bottle of wine in, keeping it cool and ready to go for hours on end.
Mr. Ice Bucket 705-1 Regency 3-Quart Ice Bucket
The sheer range of bright attractive colors and subtle neutrals already has us intrigued by these buckets, but the double wall insulation and 3 quart capacity easily win us over. What with the cheerful colors available, from ‘Apple Green’ to ‘Turquoise’ to a lively sunny yellow, we think this is a refreshing take on the metallic or clear acrylic glass designs we tend to see around. Don’t get us wrong, we love us a classy silver centerpiece to steal the limelight on our table setting, but these colorful buckets can also accent up the picnic spread or Sunday brunch with some vases of flowers and checkered tablecloths and napkins, perfect for a casual get-together rather than a fancy-shmancy dinner with all the silverware out.
Aesthetics aside, we also love that this affordable, rugged ice bucket doubles just as well as a wine chiller, helping keep our reds and whites the right amount of cool to pour out and enjoy straight off the bat. The sturdy acrylic handle makes the bucket easy to carry about, the versatility of design letting you use it not only for ice and wine, but also chips, pretzels and other snacks.