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Frozen wines during transit

Frozen Alcohol free wines in transit

An educated response to: Freezing Non-Alcoholic wines

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Globe&Mail Article
HomeĽ LifeĽ Food & WineĽ Wine & Spirits
(Mark Swallow/iStockphoto)
I accidentally froze a bottle of wine - is it still okay to drink?

The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 09 2012, 11:54 AM EST
Last updated Monday, Jan. 12 2015, 2:01 PM EST

The question: I accidentally left a bottle of wine in the trunk of my car and it froze. Is it still fine to drink

The answer: Welcome to winter in the Great White North. Mercifully, your wine should still be okay.

Many liquids are reasonably tolerant to freezing. Fruit juice and milk, for example, suffer little. Itís the same with wine. Some people maintain they can taste a difference, but any change in flavour will be extremely subtle. Iíve known people to advocate freezing a half-empty bottle as a way to prevent it from spoiling in the presence of air. Frozen wine certainly isnít dead. But Iíd be less inclined to store a previously frozen wine in a cellar for the long term.

The cork leaked on a fine wine - what's to blame?
How long can a box of wine last once opened?
Does no foil on the bottle mean the wine's in danger?

The more crucial concern in this case is with the seal on the bottle. Wine is mostly water. As water freezes, it expands. This can force the cork up and slightly out of the neck, allowing air to creep in. Because air is corrosive to wine, itís important to drink the bottle sooner rather than later. The same issue applies to screw caps, which may become deformed if the frozen liquid reaches the rim, breaching the airtight seal.

Incidentally, freezing can cause a visible change in the wine in the form of potassium tartrate crystals. Sometimes called ďwine diamonds,Ē these resemble little shards of glass but are perfectly harmless. Tartaric acid occurs naturally in wine, and when the liquid is chilled, the acid combines with potassium to precipitate out of solution. The crystals will usually drop to the bottom of the bottle, but occasionally a few will adhere to the surface of a freshly pulled cork.

If youíve accidentally frozen a wine, either in the trunk or because youíve chilled it too long in the freezer (Iíve been guilty on both counts), let it thaw at room temperature. Under no circumstances should you microwave it, at least not with the cork still lodged in the neck. If you mistakenly set the timer to, say, two hours rather than two minutes (am I the only person who finds microwave control panels unnecessarily complicated?), you could end up dealing with a mess of real glass crystals.



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