Can't Finish a Bottle? Freeze it

May 18, 2007

My friend Richard, who’s new to wine but catching up fast, asked me about how long you can keep an open bottle, which is an important consideration if you’ve spent a lot of money on a wine and don’t drink it all in one sitting.

I simply cork reds and drink them the next day. Whites can age longer if they’re kept cool in a refrigerator. I’ve had bottles last more than a week and still be in great shape.

I also rely on an old trick: freezing the wine (red or white). Just make sure that the cork isn’t in too snug and that you leave enough room for the wine to expand. (When you're ready to revisit the bottle, the wine will thaw like a can of orange juice, in a couple of hours at room temp.) I’ve kept wines for up to a week in the freezer, and they've tasted fine. I had to get through quite a bit of sediment in one hearty red, but other than that it was as fresh and lively as it had been the day I opened the bottle.

The subject of freezing wine came up again the other day. I was talking with Scott McLeod of Rubicon about the challenge of comparing wines made years ago with those made today. He wondered whether he could freeze a young wine, say his 2006 Cabernet, and keep it for 10 or 20 years as a way of comparing it to a future wine.

I’m not sure if anyone’s tried freezing a wine for years. But I would be interested to know if it’s possible and whether it would serve a winemaker’s desire to effectively freeze a wine in time.

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