Can I drink a red wine that has been frozen?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a climate-controlled cellar, but it doesn’t work well. Some of my good red wines were frozen. Can I still drink them?

—Marcel, Netherlands

Dear Marcel,

I think they will be probably be OK. But I’m surprised you said your wine froze because, while it depends on the alcohol content, a wine needs to get down to about 15° to 20° F and before it will freeze. If you’re setting your cooler to the ideal 55° F temperature, that’s quite a malfunction! The biggest concern with freezing wine in a bottle is that as the water content in the wine freezes, it expands, which can either put pressure on the cork or crack the bottle itself. If your bottles are still intact and it looks like your corks haven’t been pushed out (which could mean some air got inside the bottles, prematurely aging the wine), I say drink up.

Some people actually freeze their wine on purpose; either to preserve an open bottle that they can’t consume right away, or to save leftover vino for cooking later down the road. In any case where a wine has been exposed to an extreme temperature, while I think the wine should be fine to drink up after it defrosts, I would feel less confident about the aging potential of that same bottle down the road.

—Dr. Vinny

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