Yes, you can freeze wine for cooking! Here are some tips, as well as pros and cons of different methods.
Let’s say you had a party, and the next day you have a few half-empty bottles kicking around. Or you opened a bottle for a recipe, but you’re not a drinker, and now you have all this wine you hate to waste.
Hail, freezer! Freezing is the solution. Yes, you can indeed freeze wine.
HOW TO FREEZE WINE
Some recipes call for a lot of wine, and some call for just a few tablespoons. Here’s how to freeze wine for either:
- Large amounts of wine: If you are partial to dishes like coq au vin or beef bourguignon, which often call for a few cups of wine, then freeze your wine in a freezer-safe plastic tub or glass jar. Be sure to label on the container with the amount. That way you’ll know what you’re working with those weeks or months later, when you actually cook with it.
- Small amounts of wine: If you just want a quarter-cup of wine to add to a skillet when making a quick pan sauce or pasta sauce, an ice cube tray is your ticket. That way you can grab as few or as many cubes as you need. To measure the amount of one wine ice cube, fill the ice cube tray with water first and measure how much liquid one cube holds. Make note of this for future reference.
CAN YOU FREEZE BOTH RED AND WHITE WINE?
Yes! And pink wine, too (or rosé, if you want to be fancy about it). Fortified and aromatized wines like port, sherry, and vermouth have a longer shelf life, so don’t bother freezing those.
WILL THE FREEZER RUIN THE WINE’S FLAVOR?
It’s true that wine that’s been frozen is not as nuanced as wine from a bottle opened that day. If your wine is a $50 bottle, just call some friends over and drink it.
But if your wine is ten or six bucks, then preserving every aspect of its personality is probably not one of your worries. You’re gonna be cooking with this stuff, adding salt and butter and garlic and god knows what else.
Besides, an open bottle of wine oxidizes over time. The freezer will be kinder to your wine’s integrity than refrigerating that re-corked bottle for days or weeks.
TO THAW OR NOT TO THAW
If you’re pulling a few cubes out, don’t worry about thawing them. For a cup or two, it’s a good idea to let those thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours.
WILL THE WINE RUIN MY ICE CUBE TRAY?
This is probably not the answer you want to hear, but it depends on your ice cube tray. And also how long the wine will be in there.
I have a cheap plastic ice cube tray, and red wine has not discolored it or left any aroma behind, but I can’t promise that will be the case with your ice cube tray.
A FEW OTHER TIDBITS
Wine has alcohol, and the freezing point of alcohol is lower than water. It’ll take longer to freeze than water, and not be as hard. For that reason, I like to keep the wine cubes in the ice cube trays instead of popping them out and sticking them in a freezer bag, where they tend to fracture and break apart.
CAN I DRINK THAWED FROZEN WINE?
Sure, but don’t expect it to be quite the same as it was before you froze it.
That said, you could use the thawed wine to make sweetened or spiced drinks like mulled wine and sangria. You’re often adding flavor-forward things like citrus juice and other liqueurs to punches and hot beverages to such concoctions; I don’t like to use forceful wines in these drinks in the first place.
We’ve not tried it, but some folks freeze cubes of wine to put in pitchers of sangria to get them extra-cold without watering them down. We’ve also seen wine slushies made from blended cubes of frozen wine.