Picture this: a long week has ended and all you’re thinking about is finally tasting that bottle of wine you hid somewhere. You get home and pop it in the freezer for a quick chill. Along the way, you get sidetracked by one thing or another and a few hours later, you suddenly remember your wine! As you head into the kitchen, there’s just one question on your mind— does wine freeze?
How Wine Freezes?
To answer this question in a nutshell— yes wine freezes! However, it’s a little more complicated than what you’d expect.
Water has a freezing point of about 32ºF and, while wine does contain water, it also contains ethanol alcohol. Pure ethanol freezes much lower, at -173.2ºF. Wine, therefore, freezes somewhere in-between, depending on its alcohol content.
Wine’s alcohol by volume (ABV) ranges anywhere from 5.5% to 23%. On average, wine has a 12.5% ABV, with an estimated freezing point at 22.5ºF. This isn’t always the case, since the exact figure will vary from wine to wine.
But you’re probably not going to bother with temperatures if you just want to chill your wine. To keep it simple, leaving your wine in a freezer for more than two hours leaves a high possibility of freezing.
When your wine freezes, it expands. It could push out the cork or bust the screw cap open. When this happens, it’ll be exposed to air and could oxidize. This might be one of the most critical dangers of accidentally freezing wine. Oxygen could alter your frozen wine’s flavor and, in some extreme cases, the bottle could break and crack.
However, forgetting your wine in a freezer isn’t as damaging as leaving your wine in your car on a hot summer day and many people intentionally freeze wine for a variety of reasons, with no amount of wine wasted.
Why Some People Freeze Their Wine?
Freezing wine is usually done with unfinished bottles. This is because an open bottle of wine is compromised anyway. The longer it’s open, the more oxidized it can get, transforming a complex and refreshing wine into something a whole lot less pleasant. So if your unfinished bottle is wasting away anyway, why force a hopeless case? Instead, people freeze their wine for cooking.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson points out that since many delicious recipes require small measures of wine, freezing your leftover wine for cooking is a clever trick to make full use of it!
We don’t recommend freezing your wine in the bottle, since it takes up space and can be dangerous and difficult to retrieve the wine. Instead, you can pour out your (still liquid) wine into soft ice cube trays and molds. Once it’s frozen, keep it in a ziplock in your freezer.
When your recipe calls for it, you won’t even have to thaw the cubes. Just slip it straight into where you need it. You can store frozen wine for around three months. This is an economic alternative to forcing yourself to empty a bottle past its prime drinking window.
Troubleshooting Your Frozen Wine
All that said, not everyone can save their leftover wine for a fancy home-cooked meal. Many neither cook nor experiment with recipes calling for wine. Some might not even have a proper stovetop at home or, if they do, it could be a huge fire hazard with the,. This makes cooking your frozen wine isn’t the best (or safest) choice for everyone.
Accidentally freezing your wine also means that you were going to drink it. If cooking isn’t an option, here are some ways you can salvage your bad wine and still drink it:
If your wine opening is still secure and no wine has spilled out, you might have caught your wine before it reached the point of no return. Since it’s still unopened, that means it likely hasn’t been exposed to oxygen yet.
In this case, you can leave out your wine bottle to thaw. Be patient since you’ll need to leave it alone. Don’t expose it to hot water, don’t microwave it, don’t even uncork it yet! Heat can shock the glass and break it while opening it will oxidize it before you could even drink.
When it’s ready, test the wine’s quality and, if it’s okay, know that you’re one of the lucky ones. If not, try these other tips.
Wine slushies are a great path to go down if your wine has frozen. It’s easy enough to do and it doesn’t need much. You won’t experience it the way it was designed but this is one of the closest alternatives.
If your wine has frozen in the bottle, you’ll need to find some way to get it out of there. You could try a soda spoon to reach in and scoop it out or try something long and thin that’ll poke in and crush up the wine into small pieces you can pour out. Simply place these pieces into a glass with a teaspoon. Simple and easy!
Frosé is another thing you could try! It’s basically a wine slushie but you’ll be mixing rosé with other sweeteners and fruits. It’s a great summer staple, easy to do, and is super fun to take pictures of.
Just need to blend your frozen wine with a sweetener. If your wine isn’t frozen, freeze it in a pan and break it up with a fork once your sweetener is ready.
Bon Appetit recommends making your own fresh strawberry syrup for a sweetener. You could also add ice to this or lemon juice, to mask any possible bitterness in your wine.
Sangrias are another way to cover any unpleasantness in an oxidized frozen wine. The wine will melt quickly once it’s out of a chilled space, meaning that making sangrias is even easier. This gives you the choice between scooping out the frozen wine or allowing it to thaw in the bottle first before you turn it into sangria.
Sangria is a wine favorite that encourages all sorts of creativity with satisfying results. Throw in your favorite fruits, mix it with some juice or cider, and taste as you go. It really helps make the most out of frozen wine while still having fun with it.
Homemade Wine Pops
Make some wine pops! These got extremely popular a few years back and, while it’s not as trendy as it used to be, it’s still handy to have during the summer and is fun to make.
Simply take your wine, thawed or not, and mix it in with fruits, sweeteners, and anything else you want. Run it through the food processor until you get your desired consistency before pouring it into ice cream molds. There are a bunch of recipes for great wine pops, and you could even recreate some of your favorite wine cocktails!
Wine Ice Cubes
Try making some wine cubes. Instead of drinking the wine right away, this method saves your wine for another day. It follows the same logic as using coffee cubes for iced coffee, to chill your drink without watering it down. Having wine cubes handy for your next room temp bottle could also help prevent you from accidentally freezing another precious bottle!
You could do some fancy things with it, like boiling it down with fruits and spices that will hide away the oxidized taste. After that, freeze it in an ice tray and put it in your next glass of too-warm wine.
Accidents happen but that doesn’t mean it can’t come out with happy endings. Freezing wine isn’t the norm but it gives your wine another purpose and saves it from being tossed out. Your frozen wine once opened, won’t be the same as before. Luckily, you won’t need to waste a single drop of wine with the help of our tips.
The next time you’ll need to chill a bottle down fast, try placing your wine in a salted ice bath instead. If that’s not your thing, at least now you know what you can do if you freeze your wine!