Should you put champagne in the freezer?
One of the first rules of drinking champagne is to get the temperature right before pouring. But is it ever a good idea to put champagne in the freezer to help bring it to ideal temperature, fast?
Who among us hasn’t found themselves minutes away from a celebratory glass of champagne toast only to discover the bottle is still horizontal on the wine rack without so much as a single bead of condensation on the label? A quick session in the freezer and you’re good to go, right? Not quite…
Can you put champagne in the freezer?
Yes and no. The only reason you’d even conceive of putting a bottle of champagne in the freezer is to quickly bring it to optimum drinking temperature. But the freezer is not even the fastest method of chilling – it can take twice as long to get to temperature than using an ice bucket. Add to this the increased likelihood of ruining it by accidental freezing or over-chilling and it’s little wonder many experts agree that putting champagne in the freezer is best avoided.
So, what can go wrong with freezing your champagne?
At worst, you could forget you’ve put your champagne in the freezer only to later discover a partially frozen, slushy mess or a bottle that’s frozen solid. When this happens, the chances of the bottle exploding are greatly increased as freezing causes the wine to expand – at the very least the cork may be pushed out. But it’s not just the danger of exploding bottles you have to worry about. If your frozen bottle remains intact, you can defrost it but there’ll be a marked reduction in carbonation, so you’ll have lost all those wonderful bubbles that make champagne great. Even if you do remember to take it out, you run the risk of over-chilling – and the flavours and aromas will be muted or lost.
What’s the best way to chill champagne quickly?
The safest and most effective way to chill champagne quickly is to use an ice bucket or vasque. First put the bottle in the empty vessel, then fill two-thirds with ice and top up with water, enough to cover the ice while leaving some room at the top of the bucket or vasque. If you only use ice, there’s a lot of air between the cubes and it will take longer to chill. By adding water you’ll create an icy bath that’s in contact with the entire surface of the bottle. Set aside for about 15-20 minutes to bring to the recommended temperature of 8-9°C and you’re good to go.