Can You Freeze Wine?

champagne chilling in ice bucket

If you’re simply wondering ‘does wine freeze,’ the answer is yes. Under the right temperature and storage conditions, you can freeze wine. It’s worth discussing the hows and whys of freezing wine, however, to be sure you get the best results. Are you trying to chill your wine to get it to the right drinking temperature? Hoping to freeze leftover wine for cooking? Or, are you taking a crack at making frosé for the first time and wondering if it’s really going to work? We’ll cover these and other wine freezing tips.

Quickly Chilling Wine Before Serving

Last week I posted about wine serving temperatures and why they’re important. I know lots of people that put a bottle of white wine in the freezer with the idea that it will chill quickly. I always advise against this because:

  1. You might forget about it. The changing pressure in the bottle as the wine freezes might eject the cork and it will make a mess in your freezer. (We sometimes say the wine will explode in the freezer. It’s not quite as dramatic as that, but it’s still a pain to clean up.)
  2. You might get nervous about it exploding and check on it constantly. This means your wine won’t be chilling anyway. Everything else in your freezer will slowly warm up every time you open the door.
  3. There are faster ways to chill wine. The best way is to fill a container (a chiller or ice bucket is ideal) with ice and enough water to make it slushy. That way, the icy cold water will be against the entire surface of the bottle. This is the quickest and safest way to chill a bottle of wine.

Does Wine Freeze as Fast as Water?

No, wine freezes more slowly than water due to the alcohol content. Water freezes at 32°CF (0°C), and most kitchen freezers are at 0°F (-18°C). The time and temperature to freeze a wine will vary depending on its alcohol content, but most wine will freeze at about 15-20°F.

Just like water, wine freezes gradually and expands as it turns solid. That’s part of what increases the pressure inside a wine bottle chilling in the freezer. The cork may crack or get pushed out as the freezing wine takes up more space inside.

What if I Accidentally Freeze a Bottle of Wine?

If the bottle didn’t explode in your freezer, you’re lucky! You can probably give the wine a careful thaw and still drink it, though freezing the wine could change its flavor.

To slowly thaw a frozen bottle of wine, you can put it in your refrigerator. If you want to thaw it a little more quickly, fill your sink (or an ice bucket) with room temperature water and place the frozen bottle in it. Resist the urge to use hot water. Just be patient and thank your lucky stars it didn’t blow up in your freezer.

Note that if you accidentally froze a bottle of wine and it didn’t break open, the pressure inside the bottle had to go somewhere. Likely, there is a small crack in the cork or seal that allowed the pressure to escape. This means that the wine will be in contact with oxygen, which is the same as opening the bottle. You should plan to drink the wine soon after thawing so it doesn’t spoil.

Obviously, if there are any cracks in the bottle itself, you should not drink it.  It is sad to lose a bottle of wine, but the prospect of accidentally consuming broken glass isn’t worth it.  Toss the bottle in the bin and go get a new one. (Chill it in an ice bucket this time!)

champagne and glasses on ice

Freezing Wine for Cooking

This is one case where I think intentionally freezing wine is a great idea, especially if you’re not a regular wine drinker. The best way to do this is to use ice cube trays. Simply pour wine into the tray, just as you would with water, and freeze. Then either cover the tray with plastic wrap or pop the frozen wine cubes out into a ziploc bag to help keep them fresh. The next time you’re making a pasta sauce, just pull out a frozen cube and thaw it before using.

Because wine has a lower freezing temperature in water, this process takes longer than you might expect. The cubes might be a little soft, too. I’d recommend letting it go at least 24 hours in the back of your freezer to get them as solid as possible. Also keep in mind that smaller cubes will freeze solid more quickly than larger ones.

How to Make Frosé

A few summers ago, frosés were all the rage. If you love these frozen rosé slushies, then you’re in luck. They’re pretty easy to make at home and are a great make-ahead drink for parties.

One of the simplest and tastiest recipes for frosés comes from Bon Appetit.  You’ll need:

  • One bottle of rosé.  They recommend choosing a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé.
  • ½ cup sugar.
  • ½ pound strawberries, hulled and quartered.
  • 2-½ ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice.

You’ll also need a freezer, a stovetop (for making the strawberry syrup), and a blender.  

To prepare the frosé:

  • Pour the bottle of wine into a 13 x 9 inch pan.  This increases the surface area to promote freezing, though it may not freeze solid due to the alcohol content. Let it sit in the freezer for at least six hours.
  • Prepare a sugar syrup. Place the sugar in a saucepan with ½ cup of water and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly as the sugar dissolves.
  • Infuse the syrup with strawberries.  Add the fresh strawberries to the sugar syrup and remove the pan from the heat.  Let it infuse for at least 30 minutes and then strain it, though do not press the solids through the strainer.  Cover the strawberry syrup and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  • Blend all components.  Combine the frozen rosé, 3-½ oz of strawberry syrup, and the fresh lemon juice in a blender along with one cup of ice.  Blend and then freeze for 25-35 minutes to thicken. Blend once again before serving.

Enjoy!

pink frozen cocktail