Will Wine Bottles Explode In The Freezer?
You need your wine to cool quicker because who can wait for a cool glass of wine, seriously? So, you go ahead and search through the “wine enthusiasts” realm of the internet to find answers - turns out, only some of these are true. Let’s learn about real ways to cool wine, shall we?
Will wine bottles break in the freezer? In some cases, yes. In others, you’ll open the freezer to find an oozing bottle, with frozen wine coming through the seal of the screw cap or even one with the cork pushed out. Is it ruined? We’ll get to that in a bit.
Find out the best “non-exploding” ways to cool wine and other solutions further along with this article.
What Happens When Wine Freezes - Can You Still Drink It?
The horror of finding yourself with a frozen bottle of wine is not just because of the mess, it’s also the fact that you might not be able to drink it.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, you can still consume your wine. It’s best if you can drink it as soon as you can. If you fancy it, you can even create a “frosé” and go all out! If not, let it thaw in the fridge.
Once the bottle freezes, several things can happen. One of the possibilities is the bottle exploding due to the wine expanding. If you don’t drink it after you’ve found it frozen in the fridge, air will seep in and oxidize your wine - turning it into basically vinegar.
Oxidation can happen with screw-on tops or if the bottle has cracked and broken the airtight seal. Freezing the bottle will also make the components start to separate. This is due to the tartrates crystallizing.
It’s a possibility that the freezing process changes the flavor of the wine - in a very subtle way - and will usually go unnoticed unless you’re an award-winning sommelier or just someone who’s very strict about their wine.
If you were to freeze a bottle, don’t worry about it! It won’t harm your wine’s flavor. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge as soon as possible. And we don’t recommend you freeze wine on purpose unless of course, you fancy a “frosé” here and there.
The wine that will explode, however, is the bubbly kind. So NEVER forget a bottle of this in your freezer if you don’t want to find out via a very scary and awkward explosion during a dinner party.
If you’re trying to quickly cool a bubbly wine, you can use the following methods to avoid a big mess.
1. Wrap the Bottle in a Wet Towel
You can wrap the room temperature wine in a wet towel and put it in the freezer. In about 30 minutes, it should be cool enough to drink. It might not be the quickest method, but the thinking behind the towel wrapping is that cooling will be sped up by water evaporation - so they say.
If you need a quick method, this might not be the best option though. If you own a commercial blast freezer, it’ll work wonders, but not everyone does.
A wrapped bottle of wine in a home freezer stuffed with other items, it’s likely the wet towel ends up insulating it and will take longer to cool. Plus, if you were to forget your wine in the freezer, it’s still likely to explode even with a towel wrapped around it.
2. Chill it Horizontally and not Vertically
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a legit method of cooling wine but it is a known trick for cooling wine quicker. Science says it can’t hurt to try this, there are no actual studies suggesting that cooling wine horizontally is best. Turns out scientists are not really into this sort of thing - unless it involves drinking it.
The result of chilling wine horizontally depends on some factors, including a controlled chilling environment, so not your home freezer.
But, it has been proven, in some home tests, that horizontal is better than vertical due to some texts. No huge difference though, unless you count on a supercomputer to make the exact scientific calculations.
3. Add Frozen Objects (Including Grapes) into the Glass of Wine
This is a recommendation that can be found around the internet and consists of popping in a few frozen grapes or wine chilling cubes into your glass of wine without diluting it.
Technically, this works, since it’s basically using ice cubes. Practically, it requires you to invest in special ice cubes which you would need to chill for about 2-3 hours in the freezer - which is longer than it would take a bottle of wine. Not to mention having to interact with frozen items in your wine each time you go for a sip.
Of course, this is a method that truly works for chilling wine. Even if it’s not the most practical way to do so. If you’re someone who likes to consume everything wine - including special ice cubes and other accessories, then go for it!
4. Submerge the Bottle in Ice Water
This is probably the most popular out of all these tips. This method works for sure since it’s one that sommeliers often use at restaurants. Stick your wine in a bucket of ice water.
However, there is one thing you must keep in mind: Submerging the bottle fully into the water. Even sommeliers often forget to do this! This results in a bottle that is warm on top and almost frozen at the bottom.
To successfully chill your wine in an ice water container, follow these steps:
- Fill a container about ? with ice and add some water, remember to leave the room at the top.
- Throw in a handful of Kosher salt, this will lower the water’s freezing point, thus making it quicker to cool things.
- To protect the label, put the bottle in a plastic wrap.
This is one of the most recommended ways sommeliers and wine lovers get to enjoy a cool glass of wine. If you don’t have Kosher salt, no worries. You can still cool the wine without it.
The key to this trick is making sure you have tons of ice. Without salt, it will take approximately 15 minutes for your wine to cool.
5. Remove the Wine from the Bottle
Why does it take so long to chill your beloved bottle of wine? Due to the actual bottle. But this isn’t news to you, is it?
Glass is actually a very bad thermoconductor, plus, it's more than 40% of the weight. So, naturally, it takes a whole lot of effort to cool it down.
Hence, this tip for cooling wine. You can avoid the whole bottle situation and remove the wine from the bottle and into a Ziploc bag. Seal it and toss it into cold ice water.
Just imagine, a single glass of wine in a Ziploc back will take approximately two minutes to reach 50°F. Pretty nice, right?
Another form of this method is pouring the wine into several wine glasses, covering them with a plastic wrap and putting them in the fridge.
The glasses are smaller and thinner compared to a bottle and will naturally chill a lot quicker. Just compare 30 minutes per glass to 90 for the entire bottle.
The benefit of using the refrigerator instead of the ice water is that you are slowly bringing the wine to the desired temperature.
When using a freezer for bottles or ice water, you are making the wine go through extreme temperatures, which might end up causing you to over-chill the bottle to then chill the interior.
This is one of the methods that, in terms of quickness, compares to that of putting a bottle of wine in the freezer.
Final Thoughts & A Word of Advice
You can try any of these methods but most of them will only work under certain circumstances. Yes, that’s the (sad) truth. Wistfully, you will always end up waiting for your bottle of wine to cool in the unfortunate case you forgot to do so beforehand.
If you ever find yourself desperate for a glass, you can move your glass of wine into a Ziploc bag and chill it for two minutes. For large groups of guests, submerge the bottle in ice (tons of it) water and make small-talk. If you have 20-30 minutes to spare, cover some wine glasses and put them in the fridge.
If you’re afraid you’ll end up forgetting about the chilling glass of wine in the freezer, use a timer! It can be really useful for these cases and the “ding” sound will have everyone enthusiastic about having some delicious wine.
It’s important, though, that you never forget your precious bottle in the freezer, unless you want to wake up to a total mess. Leaving it overnight will not just raise the chances of the bottle exploding, but it’s also a horrible way to wake up in the middle of the night.