Collectors and enthusiasts would do anything to keep their liquid assets in the best condition. Pride and satisfaction comes with knowing that every bottle is safe and will last. And that their wine will improve with every year more. No bottle should be damaged and it can be deeply upsetting when a much anticipated bottle’s life is compromised due to storage.
For wine collectors, keeping your wine in the top condition means providing the best storage for the wines. Storage is critical to keep the wines in their best taste, especially if the intention is to age the wines.
Providing proper wine storage need not create a hole in the pocket. It is essential to know the different options to be able to make sound decisions.
Refrigerators vs. Coolers
There is already a good old household fridge, is there a need to buy another one for the wines?
If the plan is to keep the wine for a long time, the answer is yes! The regular fridge is not the place for wine collection. The taste and smell of foods can transfer to the bottles. The changes in temperature due to the opening and closing of the door will damage the quality of wines.
A good wine cooler is the best answer.
What is the best wine cooler to buy?
First, know what kind of a wine lover are you. Do you collect wines for long term aging or short-term consumption only? Do you stock-pile on many bottles or handle just a few?
Second, take a look-see on your own available space. How big or small is your place? Where is the most suitable space for your wine cooler? Would you want it in the corner of the kitchen or in between the cabinets?
Your answers to these questions are essential in your final decision.
Consider the basic factors: Light, Temperature and Humidity
Remember to always keep in mind the three critical elements in wine storage: Light, temperature, and humidity.
Your wine cooler must not be placed in an area with strong light sources, such as direct sunlight, as they can damage the quality of the wines. Wine coolers have their lighting system. If possible, get one with UV glass doors that could block light into the cooler so as not to impact the aging of wines.
The cooler should not be near sources of high temperatures, such as a furnace or a piece of electrical equipment that generates heat.
Once you have decided on the location, the next issue is your wine collection. How many bottles do you intend to store in the wine cooler? Choose the type and size of the wine cooler that is best for you.
Types of Wine Coolers
The types of wine coolers available in the market are of varied sizes and designs. Choose which suits best based on your wine collection and available space.
Tabletop or countertop coolers are compact wine coolers. These are for people with relatively few wine collections. Placed mostly on top of existing furniture such as tables or counters, they are easy to access. Because of their size, they are the least expensive in the market, which ranges from $60 to $300. They can only hold 6-8 bottles at a time. These are also mostly for wine drinkers who do not keep their wines for a long time.
Freestanding wine coolers can be big or small. They are flexible and movable to anywhere in the house. You will just connect to an electric outlet and plug the cooler. They can come in single or dual-zone temperatures. Freestanding can vary in height and size and can come in single or double door types. These can accommodate as little as eight or as many as 150 bottles at a time.
Built-in coolers are good if there is a pre-designed space for a cooler in the house. Usually, this is in the kitchen or a bar. While building or renovating the house or kitchen, get the exact measurement where you plan to put the cooler permanently. It creates a flawless look of the kitchen or the bar incorporating the wine cooler.
Fancy racks can also be bought in the market. These wine racks put bottles on an upside-down or upright position. These are alright for wines intended for immediate consumption.
The capacity of wine coolers
Wine coolers come in varying sizes – depending on the number of bottles that it can accommodate. A single refrigerator can be as small for six bottles and as big as for 150 bottles. If you have wines for aging, look for the type that will be easy for you to arrange wines conveniently. Remember wines have their names, date manufactured, etc. information. When arranging them, you must be able to look at this information quite easily.
Single-zone or Dual-zone Coolers
The wine coolers must have a temperature ranging from 46° to 66° Fahrenheit to keep the excellent condition of the wines. Single-zone coolers only have one temperature for the whole cooling equipment. On the other hand, dual-zone coolers have two compartments intended to have different temperatures each. Collectors who have both reds and whites collections prefer dual-zone coolers. Red and white wines have different temperature requirements.
If you collect only one type of wine, there is no need to have a dual-zone cooler. Dual-zone coolers are relatively more costly than the single-zone cooling type. Digital temperature settings are usually displayed outside for easy monitoring and adjustment.
Prices of wine coolers
Small-sized coolers can cost from $60 to $300 each machine and come mostly in single-zone temperatures.
The prices of medium-sized coolers can range from $300 to over $1,000 depending on the brand, capacity, and features. You can have a choice between single or dual-zone temperatures.
Built-in coolers tend to cost a little higher than freestanding or countertop coolers of the same size and capacity. A built-in 18-bottle capacity cooler can cost $200 more than the freestanding design.
Dual-zone types are priced higher than single-zone coolers.
Thermoelectric vs. Compressor wine coolers
Thermoelectric wine coolers are quiet, low vibration, greener, and save more energy. However, they are better for cold climate environments and not advisable for hotter locations. This technology also works better on less than 40-bottle capacity coolers. A unit of this type can cost around $150 to $300 plus each depending on the capacity.
Compressor wine coolers use the same technology as food refrigerators. They are better than thermoelectric in maintaining constant temperatures and humidity – whether in a hot or cold environment. They are a little more expensive than their thermoelectric counterparts. Compressor wine coolers come in more variety of sizes and designs than thermoelectric coolers. Prices can range from $200 to more than a thousand dollars, depending on the brand, type, and features.
Some Recommended Wine Coolers
Based on gathered feedback from various wine websites, here is a shortlist of some recommended brands for wine coolers.
The Magic Chef Wine Cooler
The Magic Chef wine Cooler is a 6-bottle mini wine refrigerator manufactured by Vinotemp. It is a useful item for starters in the hobby of wine collecting. This countertop cooler can fit in on top of any kitchen, bar, or counter. It has sliding racks that provide easy access to the wine bottles. This model has a price of $79.23.
Ivation 12-Bottle Thermoelectric Red and White Cooler
Recommended by a wine expert, this Ivation 12-bottle cooler is compact, quiet, and easy to set-up. With fast cooling time, the refrigerator was able to reach 50 degrees 20 minutes after plugging, which is suitable for restaurants. It is also reasonably priced at $ 130.
Silent 32 Bottle Wine Refrigerator from Wine Enthusiast
A winemaker from Long Island recommends 32 Bottle Dual Zone Cooler from Wine Enthusiast. With big wine collection safely stored in a temperature-controlled basement, he uses the 32-bottle cooler for wines on short-term storage. He said its solid doors and the dual-zone temperature is reliable for his wines. The cooler worth $359.
Wine coolers with lock and key is also an advantage, especially for those who have children in the house. It will keep the cooler secured from unnecessary opening and closing, which can impact the wine.
Lastly, consider the warranty and expert after-sales advice when buying a wine cooler. The longer the warranty, the better.