Freezing is a well-known method of prolonging the shelf life of food. A freezer is also a great place to put drinks if you want to chill them quickly. The question is—does it work the same way with Champagne?
Champagne freezes, just like wines and other liquids. It reaches its freezing point at approximately 15 - 23 ⁇ F. Since this process is not normally done to Champagne, one wonders what effects the drink will have afterward.
Here are some details about the occurrence and whether freezing Champagne is a good practice or not.
Why can Champagne Freeze?
When freezing Champagne, it can either transform into a slushy or a piece of rock-hard Champagne ice. There are several factors why this happens. Let's start with the composition of Champagne.
Champagne comprises approximately 70 - 75% of water, with a freezing point of 32 °F. On the other hand, most Champagne bottles contain about 12% ABV (alcohol by volume). The alcohol found in wines and other alcoholic drinks is ethanol, which has a freezing point of -173.38 °F.
Taking these two together would bring Champagne to a freezing point of 15 - 23 °F. The second factor is the temperature of the freezer. Most household freezers are set at a temperature of 0 °F or even lower.
The alcohol clearly takes a considerably low temperature for it to freeze. So, if a freezer is set at the standard temperature, the alcohol acts as an anti-freeze component.
Since Champagne has a typically low ABV and most of it is composed of water, we can say that it can definitely be frozen in cold environments. In other words, while the 12% alcohol slows down the freezing process, the water content of Champagne allows it to freeze, given a sufficient time.
We can get out of this information that Champagne's freezing point varies upon every ABV in various Champagne bottles and the freezing time and temperature.
If a freezer is set lower and the bottle is left in it longer, you'll most likely get a completely frozen sparkling wine. Otherwise, the Champagne will only form ice crystals or have a slushy consistency.
The Effects When a Bottle of Champagne is Frozen
If you're certain that your bottle of Champagne has become frozen, the first thing you need to do is be calm, and whatever you do, don't open it. If you do, you might be greeted with a boom of Champagne slush.
Just like water, wine expands when frozen, and there's a big chance that the bottle will crack. Plus, the pressure inside is pretty much still existent and can prompt the cork to explode.
Don't worry; frozen Champagne can still be thawed. After thawing a frozen bottle of Champagne, you may notice that some crystal-like objects have fallen out. These are just tartaric acid crystals, which are safe to consume.
If you drink frozen or thawed Champagne, the very first thing you'll notice about its condition is that its carbonation will have significantly decreased. It also affects the quality of sparkling wine.
The low temperature tampers with the drink's notes as it takes on a more bitter and oxidized flavor and the fresh fruit and floral notes fade to nothing. Furthermore, the cold may also cause the sparkling wine to become less potent.
This is because when Champagne freezes, its water molecules freeze first, which pushes and separates the alcohol content. Plus, the alcohol is susceptible to evaporation when the bottle isn't sealed properly during the thawing process.
Is it Advisable to Freeze Champagne?
Does freezing Champagne ruin the drink? It depends on the situation. If you intend to drink Champagne and enjoy all its elements, freezing it is not recommended to get the sparkling wine chilled. This method kills the bubbles and prevents the flavors and aroma from releasing.
But, if you have leftover Champagne and you don't want to throw it out, you can definitely opt to freeze it. To benefit from your leftover Champagne, try freezing them in ice cube trays.
Don't freeze the sparkling wine without transferring them to plastic or silicone containers. If you don't transfer it, the thick glass bottle can still crack or explode in the freezer and make a dangerous mess.
When they're already hard, you can put them all together in a ziplock bag. This will be convenient when you want to add a trace of wine to your dishes.
It works conveniently when you want to deglaze a pan to make a sauce, make French onion soup, risotto, and more! However, if your dish is to be cooked low and slow, you may need to melt the little cubes of Champagne first.
Taste of Frozen Champagne When Thawed
Drinking frozen then defrosted Champagne is believed to equate to drinking watered-down spirits. Like what is mentioned above, it is definitely still safe to drink. However, you might not be able to keep up with its dullness.
Like all wines, if the temperature of Champagne is altered, its chemical composition also changes, as well as its flavors and qualities. In all likelihood, you won't find the rich aromas and complex flavors anymore. It'll turn into a flat and boring Champagne as all its distinct characteristics have already disappeared.
This is why most people don't like to drink frozen Champagne because the wine drinking experience won't be as enjoyable.
Freezing Champagne FAQ
1. What are better alternatives to chill or store Champagne?
If you intend to drink your Champagne rather than mix it into food, then you know that freezing it is not a viable option.
Thankfully, there are other ways to chill your best Champagnes. The answer is simply an ice bath that'll only require you an ice bucket, ice cubes, cold water, and salt. If you're wondering why salt is included, it all boils down to basic science.
When salt is mixed in your ice bath, it lowers the water's temperature below -20 °C, which is an even colder environment than your freezer. This means that it will also take a shorter time to chill the wine than in the freezer.
Plus, an ice bath is one way to ensure that you chill Champagne evenly. With this, the whole bottle is submerged into the cold water instead of placing it on one side of the freezer.
The ice bath method is excellent before serving Champagne. But if you are to store Champagne for the next day or so, you can try the Champagne wine refrigerator way, among other methods.
2. How to freeze Champagne?
Aside from saving you from the dangers and mess of exploding slushy Champagne, it is pretty helpful and versatile. It's as easy as making regular ice cubes. Pour the Champagne onto the tray, cover, and freeze it overnight. Then enjoy it the next day!
3. How long until a bottle of Champagne freezes when put in the freezer?
As mentioned, the outcome will depend on the sparkling wine's freezer temperature and alcohol content. But it will take approximately 20 minutes to get a slushy consistency.
If you leave it chilling for over 20 minutes, the bottle can get totally frozen or even explode.
4. How to remove a frozen Champagne bottle and let it thaw?
If your frozen Champagne is completely stuck to the floor of your freezer, one brilliant idea to remove it is to put salt around where it's stuck.
Salt is a secret weapon to melt ice. It does its magic by preventing the occurrence of a "re-freezing" since it can lower the freezing point of water. This phenomenon is called freezing point depression.
You can also try to turn off the plug of your refrigerator, open the doors, and let it defrost on its own. Once the ice in the freezer has melted, carefully remove the bottle. Ensure that the cork is facing away from your face.
Moreover, the safe and correct way of thawing a frozen bottle of Champagne is to place it on the counter vertically and let time do its job. It's of utter importance that you remember not to use heat to thaw the bottle.
5. Can a Cold Car explode Champagne?
We know that Champagne in the freezer is something to avoid. But, one must also be careful when keeping Champagne in a car. In winter, or at night, the weather can get cold enough to freeze Champagne.
So, if you have a Champagne bottle in your car, it is essential to take safety precautions. Don't open it while you're still in the car, as it may explode and cause a mess. Bring it to your house or any area where it can thaw adequately.
We hope this article has cleared the concept of Champagne's ability to be frozen. Whether it is beneficial or not depends on the purpose and circumstances.
If you still want to drink your Champagne, you can look for other means to store and chill it. But, if you're going to repurpose it, such as make Champagne-based drinks or food, you can freeze it safely in proper containers.
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