Wine Refrigerator Buying Guide

 

Wine is delicate and needs to be stored properly to ensure its flavors and aromas can reach their full potential. Stored improperly, and a bottle may quickly spoil. 

A wine refrigerator can be the perfect home for your collection. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about storing wine and why a wine refrigerator may be the perfect storage solution for you.

Aging Wine

Only about 1% of wine being sold on the modern market is meant to be cellared. One way to gauge whether or not your wine falls into the elite 1% is its price; if you paid $30 or less, your wine was made to be enjoyed in the near future (within a few months or up to 3 years). Do not fret, if you are not ready to uncork your bottle today, storing it properly in a wine refrigerator will preserve it until you are ready to enjoy a glass.

Wine Storage Basics

Cooler temperatures are key, but not too cool. Storing wine anywhere with a temperature above 70°F will age it rapidly. If the temperature rises higher, you may potentially cook your wine, causing it to lose its flavors and aromas. Conversely, if the temperature is too cold, wine may freeze, causing the liquid inside the bottle to form ice particles, pushing out the cork. A desirable temperature range is between 45°F and 65°F, the “perfect” temperature being 55°F.

Steady temperature is important. Temperature fluctuations are a big “no-no” when it comes to wine storage. Swinging from a cold location to hot causes wine to expand and contract, which means the wine may push out the cork or contract and cause seepage from a dried-out cork. The cork needs to stay moist to maintain a seal.

Light is wine’s enemy. UV rays can prematurely age wine. This is why most vintners opt for colored glass bottles that protect their wine from light. A lightbulb will not age wine, but could potentially fade wine labels if they are exposed for extended periods of time. Since fluorescent bulbs emit a small amount of ultraviolet light, an incandescent bulb or LED light is a safer option.

Humidity is important, but not mandatory. Dry air will dry out the cork of a wine bottle, causing air to sneak in and spoil the wine. If you are storing bottles for 10 years or more, then you do want to maintain an ideal humidity level of 70%. Safe range is between 50-80% humidity, which is achievable in most climates by simply placing a pan of water inside the storage area. Conversely, if there is too much humidity and the cellar becomes damp, mold can begin to form.

Store bottles on their side. Rest bottles on their side for the long term to ensure that the liquid inside the bottle keeps the cork moist. Storing bottles horizontally is also more space efficient. If a bottle is already open, you should store the bottle upright to prevent spillage as most wine stoppers are not perfectly air tight.

The less vibration, the better. In theory, vibrations in the storage area will damage the wine by causing unwanted chemical reactions, thus aging the wine more quickly. Significant vibrations could kick up sediment in older wines, causing them to have a dirty or gritty flavor. Vibration is not as important if you’re storing the wine short term, however, you still want to avoid moving the bottles too often.

Can I store my wine in a standard refrigerator?

No. There are several reasons why you want to avoid storing your wine in a standard refrigerator:

In order to keep your food safe for consumption, a standard refrigerator is set between 32-40°F. While this will keep your juice and milk at the ideal temperature, it is far too cold for wine, which is best stored between 45-65°F.

Your refrigerator is too busy --- if you have an active household, your refrigerator door is more than likely opening and closing constantly. All this activity may cause unwanted vibrations that are harmful to wine.

Food has a distinctive odor that may penetrate the cork of your wine and cause it to have an unpleasant taste.

Standard refrigerators are designed to cool rapidly and decrease humidity, whereas a wine refrigerator maintains humidity and lowers temperature gradually.

One thing that standard refrigerators and wine refrigerators do have in common is they run on compressors. However, the compressors used in wine refrigerators have a unique design that absorbs any vibration caused by the compressor.

What size unit should I buy?

First, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How much space do I have for the wine refrigerator?

2. Will I be placing the unit under a counter, on top of a counter, or free-standing?

3. How large is my current wine collection? How much wine do I plan to buy in the future?

We recommend that you select a wine refrigerator with the storage capacity for 20-55% more wine than what you have on hand. You’ll have sufficient room for your collection to grow and have enough wine on hand to entertain.

Difference between long term and short term storage?

Some experts define long term wine storage as anything over 6 months and short term as anything less than 5 years. At Vinotemp, we define long term storage as anything over 1-3 years and short term as anything less than 3 years.

What is the difference between thermoelectric and compressor based wine refrigerators?

The chart below shows a comparison of the 2 different kinds of wine refrigerators. One kind is not necessarily better than the other. Your personal preference, budget, and the needs of your collection will be important factors that help you choose which kind of cooler is best for you.

  Compressor Thermoelectric
Cost* Higher purchase cost, lower operation cost. Lower purchase cost, higher operation cost.
Temperature Able to reach colder temperatures and adapt to changes in ambient temperature. Coldest temperature achievable is approx. 20 degrees cooler t han ambient temperature.
Capacity Able to cool a larger collection. Perfect for smaller collections.
Noise  Sound comparable to standard food refrigerator (compressor cycles on and off to cool, more moving parts).  Whisper quiet due to fewer moving parts.
Installation  Variety of installations. Units with front exhaust can be recessed into cabinetry. Units with rear exhaust are for free-standing installation only.  Units have rear exhaust and are for free-standing installations only.
Ecological Impact  Contains refrigerant. Must be disposed of using proper precautions.  Contains no harmful substances or emissions. Proper precautions must still be taken when disposing of a thermoelectric appliance.
*Operation cost is largely dependent on the size of the cooler and the number of bottles stored.

 

Free-standing vs. Built-In Wine Refrigerators

Free-standing. If a unit is specified as free-standing, this means that it should not be recessed into cabinetry. Its exhaust is located at the rear of the unit and in order to operate properly, it requires ample space to “breathe”. You can learn more about the specific installation requirements of free-standing units by referring to the helpful guide linked below.

View the Free-Standing Installation Guide >>

Built-in. If a unit is built-in, this means that the refrigerator can be recessed into cabinetry while still following specific clearance guidelines to ensure it exhausts properly. Guidelines on how to install a built-in unit are provided here while unique installation instructions specific to your wine refrigerator can be found in its manual.

View the Built-In Installation Guide >>

Which Series or Brand is Right for Me?

Element by Vinotemp

Element by Vinotemp offers stylish, economical, space-saving storage and serving solutions for both residential and commercial use.

 

Connoisseur Series

Mirrored Series

Butler Series

Eco Series

Cava

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Description

Element by Vinotemp’s most distinctive line features sturdy wine racking with stainless lip, sleek curved handles, honeycomb front exhaust, seamless/stainless steel doors, and compressor cooling.

A unique series featuring mirrored trim doors, a variety of installations from free-standing to built-in, thermoelectric and compressor based cooling.

Element by Vinotemp’s largest series comes in a wide variety of styles, black or stainless, compressor based cooling, free-standing or built-in.

An eco-conscious series that does not use CFCs or HCFCs. Available in a variety of colors. Variety of installations --- counter top or floor. Single-zone or dual-zone.

Furniture style wine coolers that are perfect for the living or dining room.

Price Point

Starting at $1099

Starting at $179

Starting at $259

Starting at $139

Starting at $730

Storage Capacity

28-155 bottles

6-50+ bottles

15-165 bottles

2-48 bottles

18-300 bottles

 

Vinotemp

Maintaining a higher standard of aesthetics, wine refrigerators by Vinotemp are an effective collaboration between form and function.

 

Designer Series

Private Reserve

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Description

Vinotemp’s most exclusive series features high-end details that will elevate your wine collection. French key with lock, curved or pole handles, seamless/stainless door frame, charcoal filter (for humidity and odor control), Low E glass (UV protection), smooth gliding racks or tempered glass shelves are all included in this collection.

 

Unique storage solutions for smaller collections starting at 7 bottles. Includes the new Panel-Ready series that allows you to attach panels to the door that match surrounding cabinetry.

Price Point

Starting at $1499

Starting at $699

Storage Capacity

24-300 bottles

7-24 bottles

 

Conclusion

Whether storing 6 bottles or 300, Vinotemp and Element by Vinotemp offer a variety of wine refrigerators that make it easy to store your wine stylishly and efficiently.

Please contact us if you have any further questions. Our wine storage experts are happy to help!

1-800-777-VINO or info@vinotemp.com

 

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