The Basics for buying a Wine Refrigerator / Cooler
The Basics for Buying a Wine Refrigerator / Cooler
August 10, 2020
The Silent Killers of Quality Wine
Temperature: The optimal storage temperature for wine is around 55° F, with a range of 50° to 58° F generally considered okay. If wine is not stored within these temperatures over a period of time, there is a large risk of negatively altering the taste and smell profiles of your wine. We also advise against storing your wine collection in other beverage refrigerators, such as a beer fridge. Storing your wine in a refrigerator that is not specifically designed for wine can lead to exposure to much cooler temps. These cool temps can impede the aging process, dry out the cork, and lead to refrigerator smells that seep into the bottle.
Light: Light exposure is a commonly overlooked factor causing a major danger to wine. Similar to some beers, too much radiation from Ultraviolet light can cause harmful chemical reactions and lead to “skunky” aromas and flavors. Wine refrigerators with dark glass or a solid door will drastically limit the light exposure to your collection.
Humidity: As a general rule of thumb, you always want to store your bottles on their sides in order to keep the cork moist, reducing the chances that oxygen will enter the bottle. Standard refrigerators are low humidity environments that can negatively impact the cork by drying it out. The ideal humidity level for wine storage is around 70%. If oxygen were to get into the wine bottles, a chemical process called Oxidation would occur. Oxidation causes the aromas and flavors to change in an irreversible process.
Now that we have reviewed the important environmental factors for optimal wine storage, let’s talk about the refrigerators themselves. We find that the first big mistake people make when buying their first wine cooler / refrigerator is misjudging the necessary capacity. For the average wine collector, your passion will almost always naturally grow to exceed the capabilities of an 18-24 bottle wine refrigerator. Even for the vast majority of collectors, large 100 bottle or more cabinets are generally unnecessary and challenging to keep full. We like to recommend refrigerators that store around 50 bottles as the best size for the average wine collector.
Additional factors to consider when choosing your refrigerator:
Warranty: As with all large appliance purchases, you should be able to find a quality wine refrigerator with a one-year warranty on some components and a five-year warranty on the cooling system. Make sure that you keep a record of all customer service numbers and interactions if you have issues with your wine refrigerator.
Wine Cooler Reliability: Unfortunately, we find that the vast majority of issues facing people buying wine coolers arise during the initial delivery and installation. If a unit is successfully delivered and installed properly, you can generally expect between 5-10 quality years of use. Of course, various environmental factors can have large impacts, such as if the unit is stored outdoors or your home has been exposed to any natural disasters or long stints of power outages. As with any refrigeration unit, you’ll want to be diligent about understanding how much clearance is required in the area around the unit to vent properly as well.
Cooling Technology and Energy Efficiency: Some wine refrigerators are more energy efficient than others. The most energy efficient wine fridges—and typically the best suited for small living spaces like a studio apartment or condo—are Thermoelectric units. On the other hand, compressor units tend to last the longest and can function in more varying conditions. Nevertheless, compressor units tend to be louder and less energy efficient than Thermoelectric units.
Noise: As with any large appliance with a fan, there will be noise. Within the price range and design that we have in mind while writing these, we estimate that the general noise level should be between 25 and 45 decibels. This is similar to the noise level of a quiet conversation. Before purchasing your wine cooler, think about where you will be placing it. If it is in a prime entertaining space, you may want to consider investing a little more money to purchase a quieter model. However, if it is outside or in the garage, this will likely be a factor that you do not have to worry about.
Bottle Size Flexibility: When you see the wine capacity numbers on a wine cooler, they are typically referring to Bordeaux style bottles. We assume that the avid wine collector reading this blog will have bottles that range in size and shape. Make sure that you do your research prior to buying so that you are not disappointed when your favorite bottle doesn’t fit due to its unusual shape or size. Champagne and Burgundy bottles typically have a fuller, rounder base, while Bordeaux style bottles are more rectangular in shape. Flue-shaped Riesling bottles have longer tapered necks. For all of you worldly travelers that have wines from many different regions, we recommend that you invest in some extra flexibility in the interior shelving system.
We hope that this post was beneficial for you and that you have all of the information that you need in order to find the right Wine Refrigerator / Cooler for your collection. As always, feel free to reach out to our support team if you have any more questions. Contact Us and check out our store for the best Wine Refrigerators / Coolers on the market!