Question: Freezing Of Wine Will Damage?

February 22, 2010


Anonymous's picture

Freezing and thawing won't seriously damage the wine itself, although on general principles I wouldn't try it with a treasured rarity. Near-freezing temperatures may precipitate out some of the wine's natural acidity in the form of insoluble tartrate crystals, but most authorities argue that this doesn't perceptibly affect the flavor of the wine. (In fact, although the practice is controversial, some people actually put a half-finished bottle in the refrigerator freezer to preserve it.)

On occasion, wines subjected to freezing temperatures may develop clear, glassy tartrate crystals in the bottle, but these are harmless and don't normally affect the flavor of the wine.
But a more realistic concern is that freezing wine might force the cork out or even break the bottle, and that's not good news. Accordingly, my advice to Peter C. and other correspondents was this: Unless your workplace forbids bringing even unopened alcoholic beverages onto the premises, I'd follow the "better safe than sorry" principle and bring the wine in for the afternoon. Or if you can't do that, schedule your wine shopping after work.
And, contrary to the conventional wisdom about some beers that suffer from temperature changes, there's really no harm in chilling wine, returning it to room temperature, then chilling it again later. If you have wines in the fridge and would like to take them out to make room for other things, there's no need to fret that the wine might be damaged.