It does not matter if you are a wine enthusiast, or “just” a novice getting started: A proper wine cooler is a must. I always cringe at the thought of people storing their precious collection at room temperature. At chill it classy, you’ll find reviews of the best wine refrigerators on the market, to avoid this mistake. I don’t have to tell you, that it is of paramount importance, that you serve your wine at the right temperature, right? Feel free to look around! If you are completely unsure what to look for in a wine cooler, read the guide below.
Wine Cooler Buyers Guide
So you want to buy a wine cooler ?
But you don’t know where to start? Read on, there’s help.
You’ve probably gotten pretty used to taking your wine chilled to just the right temperature. In five-star restaurants and hotels, they know exactly how to keep the various kinds of whites and reds chilled just enough to maximize the flavor of the wine and bring out every subtle note for your discerning sommelier’s tongue to parse. But now you need the convenience of chilled wine in your own home.
Before you commit to a Purchase – See what’s Out There First!
But of course, picking and buying your own wine refrigerator is nothing to do lightly. They can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and trying to decide between models can border on so daunting you want to give up. Admittedly, there’s a lot to know, but with this guide, you’ll be able to decide which cooler is right for you, and exactly what features you need to make sure your wine experience lives up to your expectations.
There’s many factors to take into account when buying a wine refrigerator. Here are just a few of the features and aspects you’ll want to consider.
Wine coolers range in size from compact kitchen systems for occasional wine enthusiasts or small-time collectors. Most wine collectors make a fundamental mistake when they buy their first wine cooler, and buy one that reflects their current collection. Remember that wine collection is at its most basic an acquisitive activity, so your collection is likely to do little but grow as time passes. Keep this in mind when you buy a cooler. Unless you’ve got reason to think you’ll be drinking as much or more wine than you acquire, then buy a cooler a few sizes up from your current collection, so it doesn’t fill up quickly and make you want to buy a new one, decreasing your cost efficiency.
The Price will Tell a lot about the Quality of the Product
Of course, along with size goes price. While bigger units will of course generally run more expensive than smaller units, it’s good to keep in mind that price point often has as much to do with features and quality as size. Additionally, the type of wine cellar you purchase will also affect the price point. There are the basic thermoelectric coolers that act like normal refrigerators, and can fit in your kitchen. Then there’s the high-end compressed-vapor models that go well in a garage or a basement. Also take into consideration what your wine refrigerator will look like. If it’s going to be out in the open, then you might as well make the extra investment and spring for a more decorated display model, rather than a simple plastic box that plugs into the wall.
Look for Special Features
Special features: Wine is supposed to be stored on its side, for the same reason we use cork to stop the bottles. When the wine is in contact with the cork, the cork absorbs some of the wine, thereby expanding and sealing the wine against outside air. This protects the aging process, and keeps the wine from aging prematurely or failing to mature properly. For this reason, every wine cooler on the market is designed to lay the bottles securely on their sides. Don’t look for a regular refrigerator-style bottle storage with the bottles upright. They just don’t make them. However, you do have a few options as to what the wine sits on. Some use slide-out wooden or chrome shelves or racks, while others—more commonly—use plastic racks or wire to hold the wine. While there’s a convenience to the pull-out chrome or wood racks, the wire racks will present the cheapest and probably the most familiar option in this category.
Lighting is Important Believe it or Not!
Like beer, wine is very sensitive to light, which often comes along with heat, which can change the taste profile of a wine, and UV radiation, which interrupts the aging process and can leave your wine tasting a little bit like vinegear. For this reason, if you’d like to add mood lighting or functional lighting your wine cooler, some units will have an LED light feature. These lights provide cool, safe lighting that highlights your wine collection without damaging it unduly.
Models that feature a Thermostat
This is a seemingly simple topic with a surprisingly complex range of options. Thermostats range from manual to automatic to one-touch. On the simplest models, you can just select what type of wine you’ll be storing by pressing a button, and the machine will do the rest. On more complex models, designed with the advanced wine drinker in mind, the thermostat may have manual controls, allowing you to fine-tune the temperature (or temperatures) within the cooler to not just the type of wine, but even the particular region, brand, or even year. That kind of power, however, comes with significant responsibility, so keep in mind that manual thermostats are recommended for advanced users only. Wouldn’t you hate to dial your thermostat wrong and ruin wine in the very cooler you bought to protect and enhance it?
How the Temperature affects your Wine
You’ve probably heard that red wine isn’t supposed to be chilled. So wine coolers are just for white wine, right? Not exactly. Red wine, while designed to be consumed at a higher temperature than white wine, is by no means designed for consumption at room temperature. While some cheaper reds may not benefit much from the right chilling, high-end reds like you’re likely to want to put in your new cooler definitely benefit from being served at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or about ten degrees below room temperature. White wines, on the other hand, are normally supposed to be consumed closer to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Wine coolers take this into account. There are single-zone coolers and multi-zone coolers. Which one you’ll need will depend on your drinking habits. Since different wines do require different ambient temperatures, single-zone coolers are typically recommended for those who prefer a particular kind of wine. For those who often entertain others with diverse wine tastes, or who themselves have open-minded wine palettes and taste buds, a multi-zone unit will make the most sense. These units actually keep the inside of the cooler several different temperatures depending on where you are. Some even allow you to change settings that will let you rededicate space from white wines to reds, from reds to Champagnes, or vice versa. Keep your wine from degrading!
Where Your Wine Is Stored Matters!
Not all wine coolers are created equal, and where you plan to keep your wine chiller will have a big impact on what type you need to purchase. Those simple thermoelectric models work well in kitchens—or anywhere you expect people to see or hang out near the wine refrigerator, since they’re visually pleasant, usually small, and whisper-quiet. On the other hand, if your wine goes in the basement, in the garage, or anywhere that’s not climate-controlled or has lots of people, spring for the old-fashioned vapor-compressor models.
They’re louder and usually more expensive, but they can add an ineffable quality to your wine that you may not be able to get with the cheaper living area models. Additionally, venting is a concern. To make sure your wine refrigerator runs at peak efficiency, find the vents that dispose of the hot waste air coming from the cooler. If it vents in the back, as most free-standing models do, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t sit too close to a wall, and that the unit can take in fresh air when it needs to. Don’t put baby in the corner on this one, or your wine might come out tasting flat and at very wrong temperatures.
A wine cooler can blend in with your home décor and become as important an appliance as your microwave or your toaster oven. Many people get built-in models that match their cabinets, or they may very well build the wine refrigerator right into the wall, or into a cabinet. If you have kids or teenagers, you want to check out the various models that include locks—you’re not the only one worried about that.
With the right refrigerator, that fits your wine collection and your drinking style, your wine drinking experience can be even more delicious than it has been. The right refrigerator can spruce up a boring room or party, and provide excellent service to you and to your wines for many years to come.