Tips for Transporting Wine in Cold Weather

January 05, 2016

frozen wine bottle damaged cork

For when the weather outside is frightful: tips for transporting wine in cold weather.

Over the summer Europe was hit with record heatwaves. Back then we did a blog post on Tips for Transporting Wine in Heat to help circumvent cooked wine. Of course we are now entering the timeframe that is the antithesis - transporting wine in cold weather. 

So close to Christmas and New Year’s a lot of people transport wine for their holiday festivities. Whether your planning airline travel, road trips, or shipping wine, it’s important to know how to make sure you don’t freeze your wine. It can have just as much of a negative affect on your juice as cooking it.  

Understanding wine temperatures  

We know that water freezes at 0 °C / 32 °F. Wine is primarily water, made up of somewhere between 12 and 15 percent alcohol. That said, wine freezes at temperatures between -9 to -6 °C  / 15° to 20° F. What’s the big deal, you ask? Wine exposed to extreme cold conditions can have muted scents and flavor. In addition, the bottle itself can crack, and the cork may be comprised, both leading to oxidation. 

So, how do you ensure the health of your bottles when transporting wine in cold weather? 

1. Take wine inside. The easiest way to safeguard your wine is to make sure they are not exposed to cold conditions. Temperatures drop dramatically from night to morning, and without the protection of your warmed up car, they are sure to be affected in freezing conditions. 

2. If you are on a road trip and don’t want to lug your bottles into an overnight stop, package them in a styrofoam wine packing container. Studies have shown that these boxes are insulated enough to deter significant temperature fluctuation. On trips we pack our wine in the Lazenne Wine Check. They come with a styrofoam shipping container that protects the bottles, and the wheeled bottom makes it easy to get them from the car, inside, and back again. 

3. If you are shipping your wine, use a shipper that uses heated vehicles so the bottles aren’t left in the cold overnight or during an extended stop. If you can’t be sure of either, hold the wine until temperatures increase.   

There is nothing better than opening a nice red in front of a fire on a cold night, so keep that wine at its best with these tips. If you have other tips for traveling with wine in cold weather, please leave them in a comment below. 

We recently learned about this issue first hand when shipping some wine and Champagne, from France to Poland. With the temperature well into the negatives, some of our bottles simply froze, pushed up the cork, and leaked. Our decision to ship the bottles, instead of taking them with us on the airplane (shipping was more expensive, but less luggage to and from the airport), was regretful and we have learned our lesson. We will be using our wine luggage from now on. 

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