This story is bound to be familiar to many.
You pick up a bottle of wine on your way to visit some friends.
Instead of going home that evening, you wind up staying overnight at your friends place and come morning, it turns out the bottle of wine you picked up is exactly where you left it: on the passenger seat in your car, never making it anywhere near your wine fridge!
Many of us have forgotten a bottle of wine in a cold car overnight. Can you leave wine in a cold car overnight? Is it still good or should you pour it down the kitchen sink?
Let’s unpack these questions a little.
At What Temperature Does Wine Freeze?
How cold does it have to get before wine will freeze?
Water freezes at 32°F (0°C) and even though wine is primarily made of water, it also contains alcohol which has the effect of lowering its freezing point.
Most wines will freeze at temperatures between 15 to 20°F (-6 to -9°C), depending on the alcohol content of the wine. Wine with higher alcohol content will have a lower freezing point.
If the temperature remains at or below 20°F, there is a good chance your wine will be at least partially frozen. It’ll likely have the consistency of a wine slushy.
If the temperature is below 5°F, your wine will freeze solid.
Is It Ok to Drink Wine After It Freezes?
Let’s deal with the big question on everyone’s mind. You’ve done the unthinkable, you’ve left a bottle of wine in your car overnight and it froze.
As long as the bottle is intact and the cork hasn’t been pushed out, you can gradually thaw the wine and it will be safe to drink.
Even if the cork has been pushed out a little, the wine is probably OK.
Wine is mostly water. Water expands as it freezes, and the added pressure may push the cork out. If any wine seeps out or air seeps in, it can lead to oxidation.
The wine should be OK to drink and any changes in flavor will be subtle, but you should drink the wine sooner rather than later.
Can You Leave Wine in a Cold Car Overnight?
So, what’s the takeaway? Can you leave wine in a cold car overnight?
A cold car really isn’t a problem. If the temperature dips below 20°F (-9°C), that’s cold enough that your wine might freeze.
Ideally, you’d want to take your bottle of wine into your friends’ house with you. That is why you bought it after all! But if it slips your mind and you wind up with a wine slushy – or a wine popsicle – it’s not the end of the world.
Thaw out your vino and enjoy a glass with friends!