We’ve all been there – you’ve popped a bottle of Savvy B or Rosé in the freezer to chill for a few minutes before pouring yourself a glass, only to absent-mindedly leave it there overnight. Upon retrieving it the next morning, you realise you are now in possession of a giant, alcoholic, grape-flavoured icy-pole.
Fortunately, it may not be necessary to throw the entire thing away. Wine is surprisingly resilient and can still be thawed out and drunk if accidentally frozen. However, you may be wondering what kinds of chemical reactions take place, and whether that sweet, sweet nectar still boasts the same flavours it did pre-igloo stage.
Well, wonder no more – we’re dissecting the nitty gritty details of this common household dilemma and showing you just how you can salvage your frozen wine.
First things first: what actually happens when wine freezes?
A common chain of events takes place when a bottle of wine freezes. Firstly, the wine will expand, causing the pressure to dislodge the cork or break the screw-top’s airtight seal. As a result, air can creep in through the cracks and potentially oxidise the wine. This process can be avoided by drinking the wine straight away – if you leave it too long, you may find yourself sipping away on a tasty glass of vinegar.
Will it change the taste?
Frozen wine usually leads to crystallisation – in other words, the water will separate from the other components in the wine. While this can possibly change the flavour of your wine, no shock is involved and therefore the shift will only be subtle. In fruity wines, you may notice that your thawed-out bottle tastes a little more bitter than sweet, and the colour may appear a little murkier. Low temperatures can also strip a wine of its aromas and flavours, resulting in a somewhat duller, less-alcoholic taste.
How long is too long in the freezer?
Ideally, you wouldn’t want to leave a bottle of wine in the freezer any longer than 20 minutes – this should be substantial time to chill a room-temperature bottle. If left for a long period, the wine will become both freezer burned and oxidised – in other words, the air will degrade the wine and the low temperatures will ruin it until it’s just not worth drinking anymore.
Does this apply to champagne, too?
No – never put a bottle of bubbly in the freezer as it will explode, leaving you with the unpleasant task of cleaning up slush and shattered glass.
So, what is the best way to cool down a warm bottle of wine?
If you need to speed-chill a bottle, simply place it in a container filled with 2/3 ice and 1/3 water. Retrieve 15 minutes later and you’re good to go.
You can also opt for a wine cooling sleeve – a nifty little accessory that you can easily pick up at any kitchenware store.
Alternatively, invest in a good quality single or dual zone wine fridge. Not only will the temperature settings actually cater for your wine, and allow you to serve it at its optimal temperature, you’ll also have the extra space to store your precious bottles, therefore removing the need to ever freeze your wine again!
At Grand Cru, we are the wine fridge experts and can provide you with state of the art wine fridges to keep your wine at the perfect temperature all year round.