Can wine get too cold? – Ask Decanter

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Can wine get so cold that it actually damages the wine? Tony Aspler answers that question for Decanter.

Image: Canadian ice wines presented at Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter
Image: Canadian ice wines presented at Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter

Ask Decanter: Can wine get too cold?

Richard Cross, from Bicester, Oxfordshire, asks: In the cold, dry winter of 2012 we had major house renovations which led to me moving my wine cabinet into an outhouse in which electricity had not yet been connected. I put a small thermometer in the cabinet and recorded consistent temperatures below freezing, going down to -7°C. Can these conditions spoil the wine? I’ve opened many bottles since and haven’t found any faults yet.

Tony Aspler, for Decanter, replies:

Before checking your wines, I’d check the accuracy of your thermometer. Wine begins to freeze at about -6°C (the higher the wine’s alcohol content, the lower the freezing point). If ice forms in the bottle, the pressure through expansion will push the cork above the lip of the neck. In extreme cases this could break the hermetic seal, cause leakage and allow air in, which will oxidise the wine.

Inspect the capsules of your wines for bulging and wetness; if they look flat and dry you won’t have a problem. (Even though grapes for Canadian icewine have to be picked at -8°C, the finished wine is not impervious to freezing if temperatures are cold enough!)

Tony Aspler is is the Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Chair for Canada

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