Cold stabilization

Does freezing wine hurt wine? It depends.

If you freeze some leftover wine to preserve it and there is plenty of space in the bottle, you likely will not have problems.

If you freeze a full bottle, there is chance the juice will expand and some will leak out of the cork. If it is a screw top or wire-caged cork, there is a chance the bottle will break.

In any event, when you return the wine to room/drinking temperature, you may find crystal sediments in the wine. The tartrate crystals are harmless—they are natural part of the wine—and you can consume them without fear.

Some wineries chill their wines on purpose, a process called “cold stabilization,” and filter out the tartrate crystals prior to bottling. They do this because many people figure something is wrong with the wine if there are crystals suspended in the wine. Note, however, many winemakers believe filtration for whatever reason removes some of the character of the wine.

Once the crystals form they do not dissolve back into the wine. Like other sediments, they often sink to the bottom of the bottle, so you can pour slowly and leave them in the bottom—the punt—of the bottle. You also can pour through a coffee filter. Or just drink the wine crystals and all.

All that said, freezing wine is not a best practice. There is no reason to freeze an unopened bottle of wine. If you are preserving a partially consumed bottle, the temperature in your refrigerator can buy you several days, although the wine likely will be less lively and bright the next time you pour. The same thing will happen if you freeze the wine. As you might expect, this situation is exceedingly rare at my house. If not me, someone else will “take one for the team” and finish off the bottle.

Tasting notes:

• Conde de Velázquez Don Raphael Reserva Chardonnay 2015: Clean, uncomplicated, very nice citrus–acidity chardonnay at very nice price. $9-12 Link to my tasting notes

• The Hess Collection Artezin Zinfandel, Mendocino County 2016: Classic, fruit-forward, exceptionally smooth, very easy drinking Mendocino-Sonoma zinfandel. $17 Link to my tasting notes

• Pedernales Cellars Texas GSM Mélange 2015: Bold, black-fruit-dominated wine with earthiness and some attitude. $23-30 Link to my tasting notes

Last round: I am not self-medicating. The guy at the wine store gave me a prescription. OK, he called it a receipt. Semantics.

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