What Temperature Does Wine Freeze At?

What Temperature Does Wine Freeze At

Anyone who has ever tried to chill wine, or simply left it out in a cold spot overnight, has asked the question: what temperature does wine freeze at?

Wine freezes between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the alcohol content.

The more complicated answer is that what temperature a wine freezes at, why it freezes, what temperature to store it at, and whether freezing at all is a good idea depends on numerous factors, not just alcohol content.

Understanding these factors is important, since a wine bottle can be ruined, or even shattered, by too much cold exposure.

How Alcohol Content Affects Freezing Temperature

Wine and other alcoholic drinks freeze at a lower temperature than water because they contain, among other ingredients, alcohol. The compounds that make up alcohol are resistant to freezing, so any liquid that contains alcohol takes longer to freeze, or in some cases only the water will freeze while the alcohol remains in a liquid form.

Water freezes when its molecules lose enough kinetic energy and bond together, creating solid ice. The form of alcohol most commonly found in foods like wine is ethanol, which takes more effort to form bonds between molecules meaning it resists freezing. Alcohol can still be frozen, but it takes colder temperatures than water depending on how much alcohol is in the mixture.

Most wines have an ABV of less than 20%, meaning less than 20% of their liquid volume is alcohol. Because of this they will completely freeze between 20 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit where pure water freezes at 32 degrees.So, depending on alcohol content, what temperature wine freezes at can change from bottle to bottle.

How Long Does it Take for Wine to Freeze?

No liquid freezes instantly when exposed to cold temperatures, especially if that liquid contains alcohol. Leaving a bottle of wine bottle in the freezer for a few hours will not cause the contents to freeze, the cold needs to be sustained in order to take effect. Keep this in mind if you are trying to chill or freeze a bottle of wine.

Fully freezing a bottle of wine will take around 12 hours of continuous cold, depending on the alcohol content of the wine. The more alcohol in a bottle of wine, the longer it takes to freeze or the colder the temperature needs to be. Likewise, wine with less alcohol takes less time to freeze or can be frozen on a lower temperature.

If you plan to freeze a bottle of wine consider its alcohol content and how quickly you want it frozen. Freezing a bottle of wine will always take close to 12 hours, however, so you will need to plan ahead if you want to freeze and thaw a bottle in time for, say, a dinner party. It is important to remember what temperature wine freezes at when preparing to freeze it.

Why Freeze Wine at All?

Considering how long it takes to freeze a bottle of wine, one might wonder why you should bother freezing wine in the first place. For a fresh, unopened bottle of wine, you don’t need to bother with freezing, since it will last in that state can last for years as long as it is not exposed to heat during that time.

Open wine, on the other hand, will last at most a week after being opened, with some wines like sparkling wine only lasting three days at best. If you cork and then freeze an open bottle of wine, however, you can get a few more days out of it.

This is because freezing a bottle of wine slows down all of the metabolic processes in the bottle, including the oxidation that causes wine bottles to go bad. By halting these processes, freezing helps wine last longer but not indefinitely.

As a general rule, freezing adds 2-3 days to the shelf life of an open bottle of wine, but if you open or taste a bottle and it smells foul, trust your senses and pour it out. No wine is worth getting food poising over.

The ability to preserve wine by freeze depends a lot on what temperature the wine freezes at, so keep that in mind when saving a bottle for later.

How to Safely Freeze Wine

Generally the best way to freeze wine is slowly, leaving wine in the bottle or another sealed container overnight in a freezer. This way you ensure that the wine fully freezes without being damaged by the cold, since wine can form ice crystal that ruin flavor if left in temperatures that are too cold, or if left in the cold too long.

Depending on the alcohol content of the wine you may need to leave the bottle in for more or less time so the cold does not hurt the taste. Less alcoholic wines take less time to freeze and more alcoholic wines take more time, but both should be around 12 hours to fully freeze, give or take an hour.

If you freeze wine in a bottle, you will need to put the cork or another stopper in the bottle and place it in a bag. Since water expands when frozen, there is a chance the bottle might crack or shatter, especially if it is sealed to tightly. If you use another container be sure that it is freezer safe so it will survive overnight in the cold.

How to Thaw Wine

Once you’ve frozen a bottle of wine, you will eventually need to unfreeze it for consumption or use. The easiest way to do this is just by leaving the bottle out at room temperature to thaw on its own. Taking the bottle out of the freezer and setting it on a nearby counter will have the bottle thawed in 1 or 2 hours.

If you need a bottle of wine thawed quickly, you can run the bottle under cool, gentle water such as in a sink. Do not under any circumstances use warm or hot water, at best the heat will ruin the wine and at worst the sudden, radical shift in temperature will shatter the bottle.

When dealing with wine it is important to remember that heat does more to damage alcohol than cold. Cold can create flavor-destroying crystals and stop aging, but this is the worst damage cold can cause. Heat, on the other hand, can destroy not just the taste but the alcohol content of wine, ruining the bottle and leaving it open to bacteria.

After you have completely thawed your bottle, either by leaving it out or running cool water over it, you will want to check and see if the wine inside is still good. Even if freeze a bottle properly the wine inside might be damaged, so check the color, smell, and flavor of the wine before using it.

If the wine’s color, smell, and taste are still finer, the wine is good and you can still use it. If not, then the wine has been damaged by the freezing, and it may be better to pour the rest of the wine put instead of drinking it.

Conclusion

Anyone who has ever accidentally frozen a bottle of wine, or tried to do so deliberately, has asked the same question; what temperature does wine freeze at? This is generally 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may vary depending on the alcohol content of the wine, since alcohol freezes slower than water.

If wine is frozen slowly and safely, this can be a great way to preserve an open bottle for a few extra days. If not, you may lose a bottle of good wine quicker than you anticipated.