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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have several bottles of red wine (Cabs, Zins and Pinots) that were nearly frozen. No bottle breakage, no corks popped. Is the wine still drinkable? It is a lot of wine to drink—am I still able to cellar the wine?
I think your wines will be fine. Keep in mind that wine has to get really cold to actually freeze—down to about 15° to 20° F for an extended period.
The concern about freezing wine—and why you should never leave a bottle in a freezer unattended—is that if the bottle really gets that cold, the water content will expand as it freezes. There’s not much room in a sealed bottle for that expansion, so it can put pressure on the cork or even crack the bottle. You could end up with a mess in your freezer, or if the corks push out, that means some air could get inside the bottle.
Some of my colleagues actually freeze their leftover wine on purpose. I’ve tried the results, and the wines taste good—actually quite fresh for a leftover. I’ve done my own experiment with freezing a bottle of wine topped with a screwcap, and I’ve also done an “experiment” where I forgot a bottle of rosé with an apparent leaky cork in the freezer (it made a mess, and I don’t recommend it).
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