Buying a wine cooler that fits all your wine-storage needs is not as simple as one might think. With so many features, add-ons, designs and options, buying the correct fridge might seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.
With this perfect Wine Fridge Buying Guide, you will be equipped with all the knowledge on how to store your wine correctly; what to look for when buying a wine cooler and how to compare the different options.
Buying the best wine cellar for your home has never been easier — so be sure to follow this guide, for a hassle-free shopping experience.
Wine Storage Basics
Before deciding on what refrigerator to buy, it is important to know what exactly it is that wine coolers offer and how your wines should be stored. Knowing exactly which conditions are best suited for your wine, will make it easier to compare different coolers and features. So, what exactly do the best wine cellars provide?
One of the greatest benefits a wine fridge (or wine refrigerator) offers is its protection from harmful light. Whether this is in the form of natural sunlight or powerful florescent lights, a wine cooler is capable of protecting your favorite bottle from potential damage. These beams of light can easily affect the aroma and flavor of your wine and leave you bitterly disappointed.
- Storing Temperature
When it comes to good storage conditions, most experts would agree that the cool and consistent temperature is the main factor. In order for a wine to retain its full range of aromas and flavors, the wines need to be kept at cool temperatures, to prevent it from developing cooked flavors. These temperatures should also remain consistent and should not fluctuate — as this can dramatically affect the flavors too. The world’s best wine refrigerators offer the best temperatures to keep your wine good for long-term storage and immediate service.These temperatures to store wine is usually around 55°F (12°C).
- Serving Temperature
Storing wines long-term require vastly different temperatures than the temperatures you would serve it at. This is important to know as many wine coolers offer a larger range of temperatures to cater for both long-term and short-term storage. For red wines, the ideal serving temperature would range between 53 and 66°F(12 – 19°C) — depending on the type of red wine. White wine, on the other hand, is served at a cool 46 – 53°F (8 – 12°C), while sparkling wine should be well-chilled at 41°F (5°C).
A little-known, but highly important fact, is that constant vibration or movement around wine can alter the physical make-up of the wine. If a wine is located anywhere near a standard fridge, freezer-chest or microwave, the constant movement changes the wine’s molecules. That’s why it is always best to invest in a wine cooler or wine cellar to protect your wines.
Along with heat, humidity is detrimental to the condition of your wines. Any humidity in the wine allows for the cork to expand and contract — allowing air to seep through the cork’s small pours. If this happens often enough, oxidation is sure to follow. And for any avid-wine lover, having a wine lost to oxidation is one of the worst things to happen. Most wine cellars offer the added benefit of keeping the humidity intact and maintaining the integrity of the cork. This is not as traumatic with screw-cap wines, but it is still a good rule to follow and prevent any potential damage to the wines.
Why Standard Refrigerators Aren’t Ideal
Wine fridges are specifically designed to give your wine the best chance of maintaining its natural flavors and aromas. The conditions created are precise and perfect. Although standard refrigerators offer some benefit — as it keeps the wine cool and free from direct light, these conditions are not ideal. Standard refrigerators are too cold for long-term ageing and they tend to have quite a bit of vibration from the compressor.
Additionally, a standard fridge is constantly opened and the content of the fridge is always being moved around. Along with the movement, any items with strong odors can impact your wine — as the cork has minute pores where odors can seep through. You don’t want your wine to smell of onion or garlic — so it really isn’t the ideal place to keep your prized wines in.
Benefit of Wine Coolers
The best wine cellars and wine coolers are free from light, vibration, humidity and heat. It is all you truly need for your wine. But these wine coolers come with the added benefit of costing a fraction of what traditional wine cellars would cost. In addition to the costs involved with building a traditional wine cellar, it would be a fixed structure that remains where it is. Modern wine coolers, with their low costs, can also be transported from location to location if it is required.
5 Things To Look Out For When Buying a Wine Fridge
1) Single- vs. Dual-zone
When it comes to deciding which wine refrigerator to purchase, an important difference to take note of is the difference between a single zone and dual-zone cellars.
Single-zone means that there is one temperature throughout the entire fridge. Every bottle of wine -whether red, white or sparkling, will be kept at the same temperature. These are ideal for anyone looking to store one type of wine (either just whites or just reds.) These single-zone coolers are also generally much more affordable than dual-zone ones, and work for first-time buyers.
Dual-zone chillers, however, has separate areas in the fridge which can be set at different temperatures. This can be great to store your white wines separately from your reds — and ideal for collectors who have a range of different wines. Alternatively, it can be used to store your long-term ageing wines at a different temperature than the wine you are planning on consuming soon.
2) Compressor vs Thermoelectric
When it comes to the actual cooling system of the fridge, there are two different systems that wine coolers offer.
Compressor wine refrigerators have a compressor system installed, similar to those of standard fridges. These compressor systems are able to create and circulate cool air. The compressor is capable of dramatically decreasing the temperature, which is then blown into the cooler using a fan. To ensure the temperature remains constant, the compressor will automatically switch off, preventing any freezing from occurring.
Thermoelectric wine coolers, on the other hand, uses electric currents to create different temperatures inside and outside of the refrigerator. A small fan is also used to blow the cool air into the refrigerator. These types are generally much smaller than compressor coolers and offer a range of benefits that the compressor fridges cannot offer. The cooling system does not vibrate as much a compressor fridge, making it ideal for long-term storage. They also tend to be much quieter, inexpensive and better for the environment.
3) Freestanding vs Built-in
The options for the physical build of the cellars are between a freestanding fridge and a built-in option. The freestanding fridge offers flexibility, as it is able to be moved around any location at any time.
Built-in options, however, are usually placed under kitchen cabinets, which frees up space — but they cannot be moved around once in place. However freestanding coolers can be relocated multiple times.
4. Energy Efficiency
Many modern wine coolers come with the added bonus of being extremely efficient on energy. This comes in the form of triple pan glass, which offers great insulation and keeps your wine cool without needing extra cold air. Wine refrigerators that have thermoelectric cooling are also considered more efficient, as well as the coolers that have cool, LED lights inside.
5. The Correct Shelves
It’s important to note that not all refrigerators that look like wine refrigerators were designed for wine. There are many models that were designed for other beverages — and will have shelves in place specifically for these beverages. So, it is important to find a wine cooler that allows your wine to be stored on their sides. This is an especially important feature for those looking to store their wines long-term. Some options include wooden shelves, which allows for several bottles to be stored inside. Other shelves include metal shelves, which hold individual bottles still, which are great for long-term storage.
Other features to consider
There are so many other features that wine cellars provide, and it is important to know about them and choose those that fit your requirements. These are great additions to know when comparing several types of refrigerators.
Are There Child-lock Safety Features?
Many of the best wine cellars offer a child-lock safety feature, which is always beneficial. For those how do have young children around, the feature would be of great use.
LED Lighting Options
LED lights offer the opportunity to see inside your fridge, without causing any damage to the bottle with every opening of the door. UV rays from the sun and from florescent lights can be avoided, with the addition of a less-invasive LED light.
Size and Dimensions
It is important to consider the space you are looking to fill — and what the actual wine cooler size is. There are several options available, from full-sized refrigerators to mini wine coolers that fit anywhere. Before purchasing a fridge, it is important to consider: how much space you have available; where your wine cooler will be situated; how many bottles you are looking to store and whether you’re looking to buy more wines in the future.
The Volume Capacity
For big wine collectors, it is important to know how many bottles your refrigerator is able to hold at one time. Estimating the number of bottles that can fit, will often mislead you. It is best to find out exactly what those numbers consist of. Generally, standard wine coolers hold up to 30 bottles, while the bigger options can hold up to 300.
Design and Look
Although this isn’t necessarily a feature that will change how your wine is stored, for some, it is an important feature when choosing a wine cooler. Some wine refrigerator designs are simple, with steel doors and frame. This fits in with the ‘traditional’ refrigerator look. However, there are modernized shapes and colors, that fit in with just about any décor. From black exteriors to wooden frames, the style of wine refrigerator you are seeking is likely already available.
Some Options Worth Checking
So all this theory-talk should be able to give you an idea of what to be looking out for. But when it comes to actual refrigerators, it is important to see the different options that provide these ideal conditions.
Wine Enthusiast’s Classic 70 Dual-Zone Wine Cellar is a good example of what a dual-zone refrigerator offers. This is slightly larger than the traditional coolers and can hold up to 70 bottles. And considering it offers different temperatures, it does make use of a compressor.
For single-zone examples, check out this article:
An example of a thermoelectric fridge is the Koolatron 10-bottle wine, freestanding cooler refrigerator. This sleek, modern cooler offers a digital system and an elegant design that is sure to class up your home.
For those who are large wine collectors, this 29-bottle dual-zone cooler is one of the most innovative cooling systems, as it has most of the features a wine cooler can offer. This cooler offers the double-pane doors, which offers extra UV-ray protection and prevents any drying out of the corks. Additionally, it has cool, LED lights and reversible doors. And although the wine cooler does use a compressor, it is designed to be ultra-quiet with minimum vibration and disturbance of the wine.
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