So you have searched BeverageFactory.com's selection of Wine Refrigerators and Wine Cellars; perhaps you have even read our comprehensive Wine Refrigerator and Wine Cellar Buying Guides (If not, what are you waiting for!). For some reason you still feel like something is missing. Despite the offerings and the information, you are a little unsure and you cannot help but wonder whether a wine cellar or a wine refrigerator will be best for you and your wine. After all, they are both perfectly focused and dedicated wine environments and provide excellent protection from temperature extremes, vibration, harmful light, unwanted smells and excessive noise. While wine cellars and wine refrigerators share many similar characteristics and wine protective properties, asking yourself the following questions will help you determine how best to store, age and enjoy your wine.
What kind of wine are you buying?
The type of wine you buy is directly related to what type of storage unit in which you should invest. If the majority of your wines are under $20 chances are the wine falls somewhere in the category of "should be consumed while young." After all, over 80% of the world's wine production is designed to be drunk soon after bottling. In this case, a wine refrigerator will serve your needs perfectly as it offers the perfect conditions to protect your wine and keep the integrity of your wines flavor until it is time to pop the cork! In addition to price, the variety of wine is important to noting aging times. Generally white wines are not designed for prolonged aging like certain reds. If this is the case and especially if the majority of your wines are under $20, you will probably be very happy with a wine refrigerator since they provide stable temperatures and a perfect environment for storage before serving.
Do you want to age your wine?
If you are buying a lot of red wines or wines over $20 or wines you have simply researched and know will age well or are planning on storing them over 5 years, then you will want to consider buying a wine cellar. Wine cellars are superior to wine refrigerators when it comes to aging wines, as they set a constant and ideal humidity, something wine refrigerators do not do. Humidity ensures your cork does not dry out and that oxygen never reaches your wine. You can store your bottles in a wine cellar for 5, 10, 15 years and rest easy at night knowing your wine is gently and safely aging and taking on new characteristics, flavors and aromas that you could never had imagined upon the wine's purchase.
Will your collection be expanding over the years?
A good way to make sure you get the most out of your wine storage purchase is to imagine yourself 5 years in the future. If future self is in possession of so many wine bottles that you actually fear they developed some way of duplicating themselves of their own accord, then BeverageFactory.com highly recommends purchasing a wine cellar. While wine refrigerators can accommodate up to 260 bottles, wine cellars can accommodate up to 900 bottles, giving you room to expand and allowing you the freedom to age wines without feeling pressure to make room (i.e. drink) for new wines you may have purchased.
Where are you going to put your wine storage unit?
To achieve maximum enjoyment of your wine storage unit, you must consider where you are planning on storing your wine cellar or wine refrigerator. Wine refrigerators tend to meet the demands of those squeezed for space, as they can be installed conveniently under the counter, placed on top of the counter and so forth. Wine cellars, especially the larger units will generally take up more room; therefore, you must make sure you have a good place to put it so that it is easily accessible and so the doors open wide when you are searching for your favorite vintage. Wine cellars require air to vent either out the back, front or top of the unit. This vent must let out into an open space in order to function properly and efficiently; thus, you must consider these parameters when placing your free-standing wine cellar or when purchasing, as not all wine cellars are equipped to change their direction of ventilation.
Are you the "buy a case of wine" type?
If you are the type who enjoys buying a lot of a certain vintage from one producer or a case of wine, then a wine cellar is your best option. Unless you are a restaurant owner or are throwing some serious house parties, chances are you will not finish an entire case anytime soon. In fact, half the fun of buying cases is to try and compare the same wine over the years and note how it evolves with age. This kind of fun will come to full fruition with a wine cellar that allows you the room to store and the conditions to age for years.
What is your budget?
Sad but true. You may be forced to make a decision on wine storage based on budget constraints. No doubt you can buy a great wine refrigerator for less than you can buy a wine cellar. However, it is again prudent to think of future self. Is it better to invest in a slightly larger and more expensive wine cellar or wine refrigerator now as opposed to buying a new one two years from now in order to meet your growing collection? Only future self can answer that one for you (and today self's wallet, I suppose).
Are you into the decorative thing?
If you are searching for a wine storage unit that will not only properly protect your wine but perhaps add a touch of decorative flair to your home, then a wine cellar may be your best option. Available in furniture styles such as the ones offered by Vinotemp, wine cellars offer vintage charm and old world style. However, for a modern and sleek look, wine refrigerators are an excellent decorative option.