Wine Refrigerator Buying Guide
The path to complete and utter satisfaction with your wine refrigerator purchase is simpler than you may believe. The secret to wine refrigerator happiness is taking into consideration your living and wine drinking style. When you match your style with your needs, your wine refrigerator will be literally the coolest appliance in your home and bring you and your wine years of happiness. Whether you choose to spend $100 or $1500 on a wine refrigerator, the key to enjoying your wine refrigerator is to first asses how you are going to use your wine refrigerator and what wine storing and aging needs are most important to you.
Wine Refrigerators and Location
Wine refrigerators can be large or small, wide or narrow, built-in or freestanding. Sometimes wine refrigerators have noisy compressors, others are whisper quiet. With so many choices, how do you determine which model is right for you? In order to insure you get the wine refrigerator that best fits your needs, decide where you will be placing your wine refrigerator: in a living area or a utility area?
Living Area: Wine refrigerators that will be inside your home or living area will become as much a part of your home decor and function as any other piece in your house. For this reason, you definitely want to consider the noise level of your wine refrigerators cooling system. If you are looking into a smaller wine refrigerator, consider purchasing one that uses thermoelectric cooling as opposed to a more traditional compressor. Thermoelectric wine refrigerators are extremely quiet, reliable, and energy efficient plus they eliminate any possible vibration normally associated with compressor units. No vibration means the sediments in your wine will not be disturbed. For more on thermoelectric cooling vs. compressors click here.
Utility Area: If you are planning on placing your wine refrigerator in a garage or basement, your primary concern will be with the efficiency of your compressor as opposed to any noise it may make. Because garages and basements can experience extreme temperature fluctuations, you will want to be sure to choose a wine refrigerator that has a strong compressor system insuring the temperature in the wine refrigerator stays cool and consistent. While slightly louder than thermoelectric coolers, they provide more power and stability thus ensuring your wine is not affected by the temperature surrounding your wine refrigerator. However, it is always good wine storage practice to place your wine refrigerator in a location where it has access to ambient fresh air in order help keep humidity and temperature fluctuations to a minimum.
Wine Refrigerator and Storage Needs
In addition to deciding where you are going to put your wine refrigerator, it is important to asses the following wine storage needs before purchasing:
Built-in vs. Free-standing Wine Refrigerators: Wine refrigerators are basically available in two storage categories, free-standing and built-in. Free-standing wine refrigerators stand independent of cabinets and walls in which units with built-in capabilities are placed. The advantages of a free-standing wine refrigerator include greater size variety such as models small enough to fit on a counter top or units large enough to store wine collections of 250 bottles or more. Built-in units are perfect for people who wish their wine refrigerator to blend in with their home decor as they are designed to sometimes match cabinets or fit right in with your kitchen style. Built-ins vent to the front of the unit as to insure temperature remains ambient in its surrounding location whereas Free-standing units may vent in the back. If this is the case, be sure to place your wine refrigerator in a location where the vent is not touching or too close to a wall and the unit has access to ambient fresh air.
Bottle Capacity: One of the most important storage features you can decide on when purchasing a wine refrigerator is bottle capacity. Wine refrigerators varieties include units designed to store anywhere from 6 to 260 wine bottles. Even if you wine collection is relatively small at the moment, you will want to think about how much it may expand 5 to 10 years from now and if you wine refrigerator will be able to accommodate this expansion. In addition, bottle capacity is directly related to the type of racking you choose as certain racking options lend themselves to greater storage capacity than others.
Racking Options: Wine refrigerators are equipped with several different styles of wine racking options such as slide out wood or chrome plated shelves, interchangeable chrome wine racks, built-in plastic wine racks, and flat wire shelving units. All forms of wine refrigerator wine racks are designed so that your wine bottles lay securely on their sides insuring that the wine is always in contact with the cork for proper preservation and aging. There is a measure of convenience with slide-out wine racks as they allow you the opportunity easily view your wine, access your wine, and place your wine in the unit. Built-in wine racks on the other hand are convenient because they allow you to store more bottles in a smaller unit due to the fact you can stack wine bottles on top of each other. This can also come in handy if you have larger bottles that may not fit in designated pullout shelves. For more Wine Refrigerator Racking, click here.
Wine Refrigerators and Temperature Zones
Temperature is of paramount importance to the successful storing and aging of your wine and is one of the most important value added characteristics of wine refrigerators. Wine cooler refrigerators ensure that your wine is stored in the ideal aging range generally agreed to be between 55° and 59° Fahrenheit with little or no temperature fluctuation.
Single Temperature Zone: Single temperature zone wine refrigerators keep the entire unit at a stable and constant temperature of your choosing which will usually be somewhere between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, wine will not prematurely age or be stunted in its maturation process. Since white wines, champagnes, and red wines are often stored and served and different temperatures, a single temperature zone wine refrigerator may be best for those who drink predominately one variant of wine over the other.
Dual Temperature Zone: Wine refrigerators with dual temperature zones make storing different wine varieties with different storage temperature needs extremely easy. For example, rich red and full bodied wines are usually served at 59°-68° Fahrenheit while lighter reds are served at 54°-57° Fahrenheit. In addition, dry whites, rosés and blush wines preferred serving temperature is between 46°-57°. To account for these temperature variations, dual temperature zone wine refrigerators either come equipped with independent compartments that feature manual temperature control for each zone or with wine racks placed specifically in the wine refrigerator where temperatures are either colder (towards the bottom) or warmer (towards the top).
Wine Refrigerators and Design Features
In addition to temperature, cooling unit, racking capacity, and location, it is a good idea to consider what sort of design features you would like your wine refrigerator to have. Special or additional design features to consider include locking options, internal lighting, reversible door hinges, door design, and thermostat options.
Wine Refrigerators and Locks: For added security and protection, you may want to consider a wine refrigerator that comes equipped with a lock. Locks usually come in the form of a lock and key combination.
Wine Refrigerators and Internal Lighting: Wine is extremely sensitive to natural light containing UV rays and to other lighting such as incandescent light which may heat wine bottles causing damage. However, LED light found in wine refrigerators is a gentle and safe form of light which can enhance the look of your wine refrigerator as it illuminates bottles making it easy to read wine bottle labels. We recommend LED lighting over other bulbs found in wine refrigerators as it eliminates the danger of raising the temperature in your wine cooler.
Wine Refrigerators and Reversible Door Hinges: A helpful feature to be aware of, reversible door hinges allow you the option to change which way your wine refrigerator door opens. Reversible door hinges potentially open up more storage locations for your wine refrigerator as you may be able to place the wine refrigerator in an area which previously obstructed the wine refrigerators door when opened. If you are able to switch directions, than obstruction is no longer and issue!
Wine Refrigerators and Door Design: An important design feature to consider when purchasing a wine refrigerator is the type of door your wine cooler has. Some are solid stainless steel, others have a wood finish, and many are made from tempered glass. Tempered glass, like a solid wood or stainless steel door, are effective means of protecting your wine bottles from harmful light and UV rays. The benefit of a solid door is that is offers total protection however a tempered glass door allows you to view and show off your wine collection.
Wine Refrigerators and Thermostat Options: In addition to light, door hinge and door design, you will want to consider what type of thermostat your wine refrigerator uses when operating its cooler system. Thermostat options include manual, electronic, and one-touch systems. Manual temperature adjustment allows you the ability to set the temperature to specific wine collections however this can take a bit of work and research insure the temperature is accurate. Electronic and one-touch systems have digital temperature readouts that are easy to view. In addition, adjusting the temperature is as easy as pushing a button for up and one for down. Usually electronic and one-touch systems limit your temperature range settings to pre-determined ranges that are deemed proper for wine storage such as 40°F- 65°F.
Additional Buying Guides
- Protecting Your Wine With A Wine Refrigerator
- Aging Your Wine With A Wine Cellar
- Should I Buy A Wine Refrigerator or a Wine Cellar?
- Wine Racks Buying Guide
- Wine Cellar Buying Guide: Wine Cellars & Your Budget
- Wine Cellar Buying Guide: Wine Cellars & Bottle Capacity
- Wine Cellar Buying Guide: Wine Cellars & Racking Options
- Wine Cellar Buying Guide: Cooling Systems
- Wine Cellar Buying Guide: Where to Place Your Wine Cellar