Frozen wine bottles can be unsightly, not to mention leave you without a glass of vino when you want one. Properly defrosting your wine fridge is one of the first steps in keeping it in tiptop shape, but too often we neglect this part of wine fridge maintenance or don’t know how to do it correctly.
We’re here to help! In nine simple steps, let us show you how to defrost your wine fridge safely and effectively so you can get back to enjoying your favorite vintages with ease!
Step 1: Unplug
It’s always best to let a wine fridge defrost naturally. However, if you’re eager for cold wine quicker than that, unplug your refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours. This will let the ice inside melt and drain out of your wine fridge.
After it’s drained, turn your refrigerator back on. You’ll know it’s defrosted when condensation forms on any glass panels or windows.
Typically 24-36 hours is enough time for most people. If you live in a very warm climate however or have little ones who like warm milk and juice at bedtime, you may want to give it a full 48 hours for safe measure.
Step 2: Open the Door
The next step is super easy. All you have to do is open up your wine fridge door. There’s no turning back now—you must defrost your fridge!
The longer you wait, though, the more time it takes and so I wouldn’t recommend waiting until a few hours before you want to enjoy some wine (unless, of course, you want wine slushies).
While many people choose to leave their fridges open all day, I chose not too because we have three cats and didn’t want them eating any of our perishables (yes they eat fish… I don’t understand either). Feel free to leave your door open if you are okay with that risk.
Step 3: Remove All of the Cans
The cans will be frozen, so pry them out of their slots with a butter knife or a flathead screwdriver. Don’t worry about dents—they won’t impact anything once they’re taken out.
Once all of your cans are removed, use more hot water and a sponge or rag to wipe away any leftover chunks. Empty your crisper drawers (the drawers on either side of your main cooling unit) of any food and set it aside so that you can defrost it later.
Step 4: Get Some Disinfectant Wipes
You will probably want to give your wine fridge a good cleaning after it’s defrosted. That means wiping down all of its surfaces with some disinfectant wipes.
Wiping down your wine fridge will not only keep you from tasting traces of old food that might have been left behind, but it’ll also prevent any pathogens or bacteria from growing on its surfaces and keeping it fresh for longer periods of time.
Basically, these wipes will get rid of everything nasty that’s been lingering around inside your wine refrigerator and help preserve that expensive bottle of cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay you bought for just such an occasion as thawing out your home bar wine unit.
Step 5: Clean the Seals and Bottom Rack
After your fridge has defrosted, it’s important that you take a look inside and reorganize all of your wine. With a big block of ice gone, there is room for more bottles and glasses so now is a good time to tidy up. Everything should be neat and organized for easy access.
Chill Those Glasses: Although you have plenty of room now, it will fill up quickly once you start bringing home wines for entertaining or sharing with friends. Take 15 minutes after finishing Step 6 and get all your wine glasses ready for when company comes over—label them if necessary! Step 8: Celebrate!: You did it!
Step 6: Reorganize and Reassemble Everything
The moment of truth is near. The wine fridge will have spent at least a day and maybe up to three days with its door open, depending on how long it took you to completely defrost it.
Now is when you need to go back through all your steps and make sure everything is where it belongs—if not, then now’s your chance!
Once everything is properly reorganized and reassembled, turn on your fridge again, wait for an hour or two for everything to come back up to temperature and enjoy!
Step 8: Wait 5 Minutes
If you’re thinking about investing in a wine refrigerator, you probably already know how useful they can be. They can keep your wine cool and ready for years at a time, allowing you to age wines and enjoy them on their own terms.
Most of these appliances are fairly compact; they take up less space than most full-sized refrigerators. If your home or apartment is small or if you just don’t have room for one of these fridges, there are plenty of other options available that will still allow you to maintain control over your selection of fine wines.
It all comes down to finding a solution that works for your particular needs—but whatever option you choose, it’s important that it gets done correctly and efficiently.