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So, i popped into my basement to do some laundry this morning and noticed what I thought was a leaf on the bottom of my 40 bottle wine fridge.  Upon opening, it turned out that it  was not a leaf, but a small puddle of red wine.  Upon further inspection, it turned out that my wine fridge went haywire and some how tried to turn itself into a freezer.  

So, the (hopefully good news) is that the only really fancy stuff that I have are about 15 bottles of Ridge Monte Bello from between 2008 and 2014.  These appear to have gotten really reallycold, but do not appear to have frozen.  The bad news is that the remaining 20 bottles or so have gotten at least partially frozen, with a number of them partially popping their corks.

So, two questions:

1)  What is the likely damage to the Monte Bellos and the couple of other bottles that didn't freeze?  I wasn't likely to drink the first of these for at least another 10 years, so I assume that this will be at least a bit of a mystery until then.  However, if the effects of the cold will do something to the aging, then I guess that I'll drink them now.

2)  Are the bottles that did actually freeze toast?  Is there any difference if they didn't pop their corks and remained unexposed to outside air?

Thanks for any advice.  I suppose that if worst comes to worst, I'm going to be drinking some pretty fancy sangria and mulled wine this weekend.

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Call me heretical, but from past experience, I can assure you that not only can you freeze wine, but you can also microwave it to thaw it out. 

Granted, I haven't done this with any *really* expensive wines, but for things such as new vintages of Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, etc., I've never had a problem with it - BEWARE of sediment, however, as white wines in particular throw off crystalline matter when you freeze them (they're heavy, so they'll sink - just be careful pouring them).

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Don, thanks for the advice!  You weren't kidding about the "crystalline matter!"  All of the dozen or so wines that we drank this weekend that had popped their corks had significant sediment that looked like sand.

I had one additional question, though.  At least one of the wines that we drank this weekend didn't show any visible signs of the cork popping, but were clearly wet on top, so we are likely to open a few bottles of the young monte bellos to see how they fared.  Do you have any advice on how best to enjoy a red that you weren't planning on drinking for 10-20 years?  For example, is it a good idea to decant it a few hours in advance of drinking?

Thanks!

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3 hours ago, Cooter said:

Don, thanks for the advice!  You weren't kidding about the "crystalline matter!"  All of the dozen or so wines that we drank this weekend that had popped their corks had significant sediment that looked like sand.

I had one additional question, though.  At least one of the wines that we drank this weekend didn't show any visible signs of the cork popping, but were clearly wet on top, so we are likely to open a few bottles of the young monte bellos to see how they fared.  Do you have any advice on how best to enjoy a red that you weren't planning on drinking for 10-20 years?  For example, is it a good idea to decant it a few hours in advance of drinking?

Thanks!

Get a Coravin.

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4 hours ago, Cooter said:

Don, thanks for the advice!  You weren't kidding about the "crystalline matter!"  All of the dozen or so wines that we drank this weekend that had popped their corks had significant sediment that looked like sand.

I had one additional question, though.  At least one of the wines that we drank this weekend didn't show any visible signs of the cork popping, but were clearly wet on top, so we are likely to open a few bottles of the young monte bellos to see how they fared.  Do you have any advice on how best to enjoy a red that you weren't planning on drinking for 10-20 years?  For example, is it a good idea to decant it a few hours in advance of drinking?

Thanks!

I think that optimally, all [serious and expensive] reds should be decanted - the young ones for a few hours, the old ones to get rid of sediment.

Did the wines survive the freezing? Did you microwave them, or let them thaw?

I've actually microwaved wines *too hot*, and then had to put them back in the freezer for ten minutes! Believe it or not, they were fine.

I think in an absolutely chemical sense, the "crystalline matter" the wines throw off is probably some type of flavoring agent, so I have no doubt that the wines suffer somewhat, but I just haven't had much of a problem with young wines freezing - they don't seem to lose any fruit. I should also add that I've only kept them frozen overnight, and have never had a cork pop out.

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Thanks, again, guys.  

The wines "survived" freezing and tasted fine for the most part.  A half bottle of 2013 Lynch-Bages which popped its cork was pretty blah, and a 2013 Beaucastel which did not pop the cork lacked any sort of body, but I'm not sure if that's a function of freezing.  Highlights of the rest of what drank last weekend were a 2008 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay, which was perfect, and a 2009 Ridge Estate Cab.  A 2013 Pierre Bourée Fils Gevrey-Chambertin was also really good, but had a weird, but not necessarily bad, grapefruit flavor.  We don't drink a lot of old world wines, and especially don't drink very much red burgundy, so maybe that's a normal thing?

We did open a 2014 Monte Bello last night, despite it not appearing to have frozen or have cork damage.  Due to a snafu with our decanter, we drank it over about three hours straight from bottle to glass.   It was pretty great after an hour or two.  The last glass had a fair amount of pretty fine sediment which I'm not sure is from the cold or naturally occurring.  I'm a little worried about these having been damaged, either directly from the cold or from having pushed the cork, so I'm thinking that I will likely drink the Monte Bello that we have left over the next few months.  :-(

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21 minutes ago, Cooter said:

Thanks, again, guys.  

The wines "survived" freezing and tasted fine for the most part.  A half bottle of 2013 Lynch-Bages which popped its cork was pretty blah, and a 2013 Beaucastel which did not pop the cork lacked any sort of body, but I'm not sure if that's a function of freezing.  Highlights of the rest of what drank last weekend were a 2008 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay, which was perfect, and a 2009 Ridge Estate Cab.  A 2013 Pierre Bourée Fils Gevrey-Chambertin was also really good, but had a weird, but not necessarily bad, grapefruit flavor.  We don't drink a lot of old world wines, and especially don't drink very much red burgundy, so maybe that's a normal thing?

We did open a 2014 Monte Bello last night, despite it not appearing to have frozen or have cork damage.  Due to a snafu with our decanter, we drank it over about three hours straight from bottle to glass.   It was pretty great after an hour or two.  The last glass had a fair amount of pretty fine sediment which I'm not sure is from the cold or naturally occurring.  I'm a little worried about these having been damaged, either directly from the cold or from having pushed the cork, so I'm thinking that I will likely drink the Monte Bello that we have left over the next few months.  :-(

Oof, you're talking classified-growth Bordeaux - I winced when I saw Lynch-Bages ... the things I'm talking about are $15 bottles of Cotes-du-Rhone and the like. It could be the 2013 vintage (which I'm not recalling off the top of my head), or it could be that freezing altered the tannins. Interestingly, I've probably had more Bourée than any other producer of Burgundy (my good friend was the largest buyer in America for several years) - he's good, not awesome, but good ... very ageworthy, but also somewhat muddy and rustic.

2013 Vintage (this is the first thing I found - it's for Bordeaux, but all of France *sometimes* follows a general weather pattern (cf: 2003); or, like 1964, right-bank and left-bank Bordeaux can be vastly different).

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