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Food & Wine I left a bottle of white wine overnight in the freezer by mistake. Is it too late to save it?

The question

I left a bottle of white wine overnight in the freezer by mistake. I’ve taken it out now, but is it too late to save it?

The answer

No, it’s not too late! Don’t sink that bottle yet, by any means. I’ve touched on various aspects of this issue in the past. Suffice it to say that frozen wine is in no way dead wine. In fact, freezing an already-open bottle of wine is one of the best ways to preserve that leftover liquid. Just let it thaw and then swirl it a little to reintegrate components that may have pooled away from each other, the way you’d stir a soup or stew.

One complicating factor is the seal, however. When a water-based liquid freezes, it expands in volume by about 10 per cent. That’s enough in some cases to push a cork partway out of the bottleneck. In the case of a screw cap, it can distort the metal and cause a leak. This means your bottle has had its oxygen seal compromised and thus is unfit for further long-term storage. Basically, you should consume it within a few days, after which it will degrade in flavour. So, you’re left with one of the best excuses ever to drink wine.

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If your wine was not fully filtered and cold stabilized at the winery (fine wine often is not), if could, upon freezing, develop tartrate crystals, sometimes called "wine diamonds.” Although they may look like glass shards, these are harmless, perfectly natural particles, which form when the natural tartaric acid in grape juice binds with potassium to form potassium bitartrate. You can decant your bottle off this sediment, but there’s no harm in consuming the crystals if they end up sinking to the bottom of your glass.

Remember, heat is by far the bigger enemy where wine is concerned. So don’t store your chardonnay in the oven.

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