Whether you forgot about a bottle you slid into the freezer to cool or want to transform leftover rosé into frosé, there comes a time when you think, “Wait. Does wine freeze?”
The short answer is yes. If kept below a certain temperature for enough time, wine freezes.
“Wine, like all liquids, will change phases from liquid to solid when subjected to low enough temperatures,” says Byron Elmendorf, head winemaker at Macari Vineyards. “Although wine contains a dazzling array of organic compounds, it is the water and alcohol that mostly determine the freezing point of wine.”
The trick is to avoid freezing a beloved bottle accidentally. Or if your intent is to freeze your wine, how to create the right conditions to safely do so.
At What Temperature Does Wine Freeze?
Wine freezes between 15–25°F, depending on its alcohol by volume (abv) and other factors. This is lower than the freezing point of water (32°F), and higher than the temperature needed for liquors like vodka to become solid (below 16.6°F).
Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water. So, the boozier your bottle, the colder it will need to freeze.
Most wines have between 11–13% abv. Red wines tend to contain more alcohol than white, rosé and sparkling bottles.
Sugar content can also affect a wine’s freezing point.
“Dissolved sugar will lower the freezing point of a liquid, so sweet and dessert wines will also tend to freeze at much lower temperatures,” says Elmendorf.
How Long Does It Take Wine to Freeze?
Wine will freeze in approximately five hours if your freezer is set at or below 0°F, as is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its consistency will start to be compromised within 1–3 hours as the water molecules within wine start to solidify.
Does Freezing Wine Ruin It?
Wine that has frozen is safe to drink, but its aromas, flavors and nuances will be irrevocably altered. It isn’t ideal to freeze a wine with sentimental or economic value, but frozen wine isn’t necessarily “the end of the world,” says Kevin Farber, sommelier at Restaurant Latour and Crystal Springs Resort Wine Cellar in Hamburg, New Jersey.
“Let the wine thaw and warm up to service temperature, and then taste the wine,” he says. “If it is still enjoyable, even if [it’s] not expressing exactly as it should, fill up your glass.”
Elmendorf agrees. “It really depends on the extent of the freezing, but to be honest, I’d rather see most wines subjected to a brief period of cold temperature than hot… That being said, completely freezing a wine certainly could drive other undesirable changes.”
When Should You Freeze Wine?
Freezing the remainder of a bottle of wine that might otherwise go to waste is a great way to give it life.
“Leftover wine that is not going to be drunk can be frozen into ice cubes as a convenient way to have cooking wine on hand without having to open a new bottle,” says Elmendorf.
Best Methods to Freeze Wine
Even if you’re blessed with unlimited freezer space, you should never put an entire bottle of wine into your freezer.
“Just like a frozen ice cube expands above the level that it was poured to as water, the water in the wine will expand as it freezes, risking either compromising the closure—pushing out a cork, or breaking the seal of a screw cap—or even shattering the bottle,” says Elmendorf.
Sparkling wine bottles are especially dangerous in the freezer since their contents are already pressurized.
Instead, pour the wine into freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays and leave ample room for expansion. Within a few hours, your frozen wine will be ready for whatever adventure that awaits.
Published: August 15, 2022