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Does Wine Freeze?

Erin O'Reilly - Certified Specialist of Wine

Do you live in a place where the weather map drapes itself in swaths of purple and blue? Where salted roads and snow tires are a necessary part of your mid-winter wine delivery service? If so, it’s time to learn about frozen wine.

Remember, if your wine bottles from your wine club shipments ever arrive damaged during transit, reach out to our Customer Service and we’ll give you a hand.

Bottle of red wine sticking out of the snow

How and why wine freezes

To understand why and how wine freezes, we need to understand the different components that make up your wine.

We know the percentage of alcohol in a bottle of wine because it’s conveniently located on the label, so anywhere from around 11%-15% of the total volume. A very small percentage, about 2%, is the secret sauce, your aroma and flavor compounds. The rest of the bottle is good old H2O, water comes in at around 85% of the total volume, and we know water freezes at 32˚F. But let’s go over a couple common questions:

What temperature does wine freeze at?

Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, and wine will freeze around 22˚F. The higher the alcohol content, the lower the wine’s freezing point.

How long does it take wine to freeze?

Your wine will need to be at 22˚F for a solid 4-6 hours to fully freeze, and even at that temperature, you may still have a small amount of liquid at the bottom of your bottle.

Frozen red wine bottle with frozen wine coming out of the top next to a wine glass

What happens when wine freezes?

Let’s say your wine sits in a delivery truck on a particularly chilly night and the temperatures drop for an extended period of time. Here are two clues that the wine froze:

• Cork slightly protrudes out of the bottle

• Flakes floating in the wine like a snow globe

A protruding cork happens when the liquid changes to solid form and expands. This may push the cork out, not entirely, but enough to notice.

Snow globe flakes are harmless tartrate crystals, more noticeable in whites than reds. These flakes form if the winemaker decided not to “cold stabilize” during winemaking. Cold stabilization prevents this very thing from happening, which can be disturbing to consumers unaccustomed to finding something floating in their wines. Your bottle just went through a natural cold stabilization process.

Fear not! You can let them settle in the bottom of the bottle before pouring. These crystals will not affect your experience and are a reminder of the cool chemistry involved in winemaking.

Related: The Gritty Truth: Why is there Sediment in my Wine?

Hand holding a glass of red wine with snowy trees in the background

Does freezing wine ruin it?

In most cases, no. If you accidentally froze wine by trying to chill it quickly in the freezer, or if the wine froze during transit, you can bring it slowly back to its liquid state in the fridge or by leaving it at room temperature on your kitchen counter if the room isn’t too warm.

Be patient! Don’t try to heat your wine up in the microwave or leave it on a heater vent. Let this process happen naturally to re-integrate your flavors.

Open the bottle and give it a taste. Most of us, myself included, won’t be able to perceive any changes in the wine’s quality.

Saving wine in the freezer

Want to freeze your wine for later? You can pour off wine from your main bottle into a half-bottle and keep it in the freezer to enjoy another day. Just remember to leave enough headspace for the liquid to expand when frozen. If you want to freeze wine for cooking (I use an ice cube tray), make sure to put it in the back of your freezer where it’s coldest.

Remember, if your freezer temperature is below 32˚F, but above 22˚F, your wine is unlikely to freeze.

Help! Something’s Off...
Winter can be brutally cold in some parts of the country. If your wine bottle broke during transit, or if you notice off flavors in your wine club delivery, give our Customer Service a call and they’ll happily give you a hand: 1-800-266-8888

Cheers & stay warm!


Erin O'Reilly Author Bio Image Author Bio: Erin O’Reilly is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and a long-time lover of all things fermented grape. She pens her work from Monterey wine country where she raises a glass to the growers and producers crafting wines that transcend time.