ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

You mentioned that putting Champagne in a freezer is a no-no. Is this also true of non-carbonated white wines? I have heard this many times but am not clear on the reasoning. Is it for fear of an exploding bottle, or is this "shock chilling" not good for the wine itself?

—Joe, New York

Dear Joe,

First off, the safest (and fastest, I swear) method of chilling wine is to put it in a bucket of water and ice. It only takes 20 or 30 minutes, and it works like a charm.

I've left bottles of still wine in the freezer only to come back and find them leaking a sticky mess. I believe the scientific explanation is that wine is mostly water, which has a freezing point of 32° F, but the alcohol prevents it from freezing entirely. Still, if you leave your bottle of wine in the freezer long enough, the water will begin to crystallize and expand. And since there's not a lot of room in there for the water to expand, it might leak out through the cork.

—Dr. Vinny


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