Can Wine Freeze? Exploring the Effects of Freezing Wine

Can Wine Freeze? Exploring the Effects of Freezing Wine

McKenzie Hagan |

If you’ve ever opened one too many bottles of wine at a dinner party, you may have wondered, “Can you freeze wine?”

Or perhaps, in an attempt to quickly cool a bottle to a more desirable temperature, you have left your wine in the freezer too long, only to discover a wine slushy in the morning. Should you drink it, or is it destined for the trash?

In this article we’ll tell you all you need to know about cooling, freezing, and thawing wine. If the unexpected happens, you’ll know what to do.

So, Can You Freeze Wine?

Technically, yes. You can freeze wine.

If you’ve attempted to chill a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and you’ve accidentally frozen it, there’s no need to pour it down the sink. It won’t hurt you, it's completely safe. The wine shouldn’t be completely frozen either, due to the alcohol content, so you won’t even have to tackle a giant wine popsicle.

While we understand these accidents happen, and we hate to waste perfectly good food or drink (especially wine!), we wouldn’t recommend freezing wine on purpose. Just because you can freeze wine doesn’t mean you should.

Why You Shouldn’t Freeze Wine

While thawed wine is perfectly safe to drink, purposely freezing wine can have some less than fantastic consequences.

First of all, the wine will expand as it freezes. This means that before long the wine will either leak out around the cork, completely push the cork out, or smash the bottle. Not only will this waste your wine, but you’re going to end up with a mess in your freezer — possibly a dangerous, glassy mess.

Secondly, if the cork is pushed out in the freezer, air will enter the bottle and oxidize your wine. Over time the steady oxidation will cause the wine to turn to vinegar -— not so refreshing on a warm summer’s day. Screw top wines aren’t safe from this. Oxidation can also occur if liquid breaks the airtight seal.

Another reason not to freeze wine is to preserve the flavor. If you refer to our article on how to store wine, you’ll see that if there’s one thing wine hates, it’s drastic changes in temperature. Freezing causes the organic chemical compounds in wine to crystalize, which can change the flavor of the wine. If you’ve bought a really nice bottle, don’t risk altering the subtle flavors winemakers have worked so hard to create.

Finally, while freezing white, dessert or red wine should leave you pretty unscathed, freezing sparkling wine is dangerous. A frozen bottle of sparkling wine can become explosive.

If you’ve accidentally frozen a bottle of bubbly, don’t panic, but don’t whip it open either — you’re basically dealing with a wine hand grenade. Instead, remove it from the freezer, aiming the head of the bottle away from your face. Take it to a safe place away from people or pets, like your backyard or patio. Leave it to warm up and walk away.

Better Ways to Chill Your Bottle of Wine

Accidentally freezing a bottle of wine when you were trying to cool it is an easy mistake to make. Trust us, it happens to the best of us. To make sure you never come up against this problem again, we’ve found a few alternative ways to chill your wine in a hurry.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Submerge your wine in a bucket filled with ice and water, then add the secret ingredient — salt! Salt brings down the freezing temperature of water, keeping your ice icy for longer.

A Grape Idea

While we wouldn’t advise you to put ice cubes in your glass (as they melt they’ll dilute your wine), freezing a few grapes is a great alternative that won’t spoil your drink. Wait until they’re frozen solid, then pop a couple in your glass.

Check out even more ideas for how to quickly chill wine.

Using Frozen Wine in Cooking

can you freeze wine: wine on in an ice bucket

Just because we don’t think you should drink your frozen wine doesn’t mean we don’t have a few other ideas of what to do with it.

Cooking with your frozen wine is a great way to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. While it may be past being enjoyed on it’s own, you could always add a splash to your risotto.

Once you’ve thawed your frozen wine, portion it out into an ice cube tray. You could even go the extra mile by measuring each portion out to the exact amount you need for each recipe. When it's time to add it to your cooking, you can throw the wine cubes straight into the pan.

Using Frozen Wine to Make Vinegar

Another way to make sure your lovely bottle doesn’t go to waste is to use it to make vinegar. White or red wine vinegar is a delicious condiment — it’s the perfect way to jazz up a salad. It’ll taste even better when you know you’ve made it yourself!

To make vinegar, you’ll need a vinegar mother. Preserve and Pickle defines it this way:

“A vinegar mother ... is a gelatinous membrane called a biofilm that forms on top of a liquid being made into vinegar. It seems like a strange substance but it is completely natural and is actually a form of cellulose created by bacteria that produce acetic acid, the acid that is in all vinegar.”

While you can make these yourself, you can also buy them. However, for a super quick and easy fix, simply buy vinegar which has bits in it.

Then, combine three parts leftover wine (or wine that’s gone bad) with one part vinegar in a jar. In a month’s time you’ll have your very own red or white wine vinegar. 

Using Frozen Wine to Make Sangria

The ultimate Spanish drink, sangria is a delicious mix of red wine, sugar, fruit, and sometimes brandy.

While it is the perfect party punch, using a nice bottle of wine to make sangria is a punishable offense in the wine world. However, if you happen to spoil your wine through accidentally freezing it, then making a jug of sangria is a great way to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

To make your own sangria:

  • Combine a bottle of wine, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of orange juice, and 1/3 cup of brandy in a large jug. 
  • Add orange and apple slices to garnish.

Waste Not, Want Not

multiple wine on bucket filled with ice

Can you freeze wine? Sure, you can. However, we don’t recommend it. While it’s perfectly safe to drink, freezing your wine may compromise the flavor or even turn it into vinegar. Worse yet, freezing sparkling wine may give you a ticking time bomb in your freezer.

If you do accidentally freeze wine, there are a few things you can do with it to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Frozen wine is perfectly good for cooking, turning to vinegar or making a refreshing sangria. So, don’t despair, it’s not the end of the world!

For other tips on how best to store, serve, and discover wine check out some of our other articles on the Usual Wines blog.