Wine Refrigerator Buying Guide
What is a wine refrigerator?
A wine refrigerator can be the perfect home for your collection. It is an appliance that cools at warmer temperatures than a beverage or food refrigerator. Other names for this specific appliance are wine cooler, wine chiller, or wine vault. Wine Coolers cool reds, whites, champagnes, and other bubbly wines.
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.
Wine Storage Basics
Here are some factors to consider when selecting a wine storage solution.
- Cooler temperatures are key, but not too cool. Storing wine anywhere with a temperature above 70°F will age wine rapidly and 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 the 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 is 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.
What is the Difference Between a Standard Refrigerator vs. Wine Refrigerator?
You may be wondering whether or not you can store your wine in a standard refrigerator. The short answer is no. There are several reasons why you should 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.
Benefits of Owning a Wine Refrigerator
- A wine refrigerator creates the ideal environment for wine. It stores wine at its ideal temperature, humidity, and stability.
- Wine coolers are budget friendly and generally cost less than a wine cellar, wine cabinet, and standard refrigerator.
- Wine refrigerators are designed with a simple system that costs less to maintain. The individual parts needed to repair a wine refrigerator’s motor are much cheaper when compared to a standard refrigerator or wine cellar.
- With a diverse range of sizes/bottle capacities, both built-in and freestanding designs, wine refrigerators can easily fit into a variety of spaces.
- A wine refrigerator may store other beverages safely without spoiling them or the wine. Some of these drinks include soda water, plain water, lemonade, and other non-alcoholic beverages. Since the wine cooler maintains a temperature warmer than a standard refrigerator, you should not place perishables inside.
What is the temperature range inside a wine cooler?
What service does a wine cooler provide?
What is the difference between long term and short term storage?
Which is right for my storage and entertaining needs; single-zone or dual-zone?
How does a wine refrigerator cool your wine?
What is the difference between thermoelectric and compressor-based wine refrigerators?
The best metaphor would be to say if you are in your car with the air conditioner on, its cooling like a compressor. If you use the fan without the coolant, that is just the fan. Thermoelectric is quieter, and compressor pulls down the temperature more efficiently.
Defining Compressor Wine Coolers and Thermoelectric Wine Coolers
Compressor Wine Cooler
Placing Your Compressor Wine Cooler
red or white wines independently
Thermoelectric Wine Coolers
Placing Your Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Which technology is better for energy efficiency?
What size unit should I buy?
- How much space do I have for the wine refrigerator?
- Will I be placing the unit under a counter, on top of a counter, or free-standing?
- How large is my current wine collection?
- How much wine do I plan to buy in the future?
- On average, most wine refrigerators on the market store between 20-30 bottles of wine
- For those who prefer to store only 1 bottle of wine, there are single bottle options available
- For enthusiastic wine collectors, larger capacity wine refrigerators store between 100 to 300 bottles
What is the difference between free-standing vs. built-in?
What are some common questions I should ask myself before I purchase?
- How many bottles do I purchase vs. drink each month? If you purchase and drink at a similar rate, then a wine cooler for short term storage (wine cooler/refrigerator) is perfect for you.
- Do you store white wine, red, or both?
- How long do you plan to store your wine?
- What is your budget?
Where can a wine refrigerator be installed?
What do wine enthusiasts buy?
What are some common areas to place a wine cooler inside the home?
Are racks different in wine coolers?
What kind of wine coolers are available?
Which wine refrigerator series is right for me?
Element by VinotempElement by Vinotemp offers stylish, economical, space-saving storage and serving solutions for both residential and commercial use.
|Style||Connoisseur Series||Mirrored Series||Butler Series||Eco Series|
|About||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.|
|Price Point||Starting at $1099||Starting at $199||Starting at $259||Starting at $169|
|Storage Capacity Range||28-155 bottles||6-50+ bottles||15-165 bottles||2-48 bottles|
VinotempMaintaining a higher standard of aesthetics, wine refrigerators by Vinotemp are an effective collaboration between form and function.
|Style||Designer Series||Private Reserve Series||Cava Series||Il Romanzo Series|
|About||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 ranging from smaller and larger collections. This series includes the back-lit units that allows you to display your wine using different lighting, and the new Panel-Ready units that allows you to attach panels to the door that match surrounding cabinetry.||Furniture style wine coolers that are perfect for the living or dining room. Utilizing thermoelectric technology, these wine coolers are ultra-quiet and energy-efficient.||Open wine coolers that are perfect for tabletop or countertop use and for those who love to entertain. Single-zone or dual-zone.|
|Price Point||Starting at $1499||Starting at $699||Starting at $1995||Starting at $199|
|Storage Capacity Range||24-300 bottles||7-188 bottles||38-48 bottles||2-8 bottles|
SET UP, MAINTENANCE, & TROUBLESHOOTING
Set Up and Installation
- Your wine refrigerator should be placed in a flat and level location. Do not place it on an incline or decline or somewhere where it will lose footing (example: a staircase).
- Avoid heat and sunlight
- Avoid placing the unit in a location easily accessed by pets or children
- Avoid carpet. While spills and leaks do not happen very often, if they do, they may cause mold or odors. If you must install your refrigerator over carpet, place a plastic mat between the unit and the carpet.
- Keep the cooler away from water, dust, and other environmental factors that may deteriorate the unit.
- When your new cooler is delivered, allow the unit to sit for several hours unplugged and with the door open. This will allow any odors from fresh plastic and painted metal will not interfere with your wine.
- Allow the unit to rest upright and unplugged for a minimum of 24 hours before plugging it in.
While installing your new wine refrigerator:
- Review the instruction manual thoroughly to learn your unit’s specifications. Failure to follow the instructions within the manual will greatly affect the functionality of your wine refrigerator.
- Follow the clearance guidelines carefully to ensure your unit can exhaust properly.
- Check the legs of the wine cooler and make sure it is stable.
- Before loading the cooler with wine, allow it to run for a few hours empty. If the unit is functioning properly, load it with wine.
- Pay close attention to the size of the refrigerator to ensure it will fit in the space allotted.
Maintenance and Cleaning
- You may need to replace the internal lights and wirings over time.
- Before you clean, turn off the unit to avoid electrical shock and remove the wine bottles.
- Use non-abrasive cleaners and cleaning agents.
- Clean out the water tray periodically.
- Wipe the inside and outside of the cooler with a damp cloth.
- If you must use a detergent, use a homemade mild and non-toxic solution.
- Check the exhaust periodically and ensure it is free from dust and debris
- Handle the racks with care as you do not want to damage these.
- Clean up any spills inside the cooler right away
- After cleaning, allow the unit to “air out” before loading with wine.
- You should do a deep cleaning of your wine cooler at least once or twice a year.
- Never use a flammable cleaning agent to clean as this may cause a fire.
If the cooler does not turn on:
- Double check that the cooler is plugged in properly
- Ensure the switch is turned on
- Check the electrical socket
- Check the manual to ensure the wine cooler is installed properly
If the wine refrigerator is not cooling properly:
- Ensure that your wine refrigerator is receiving the correct voltage
- Check that the temperature is set to the desired level.
- Check the exhaust and vents to ensure they are not blocked and proper clearance guidelines are followed
- Avoid opening the door of the cooler as much as possible as this will cause unwanted temperature fluctuations.
- Noise can occur when the unit is not steady and even on the floor.
- Compressors can be louder and a trick is to pad the feet with carpet, to help muffle the vibration.
- Improper ventilation can raise the noise level and heat up the unit, so it’s important to make sure there is enough venting, so that the compressor isn’t working so hard.
- Air circulation around the one unit is also helpful to reduce noise so that the unit is not vibrating on something else.
- Very loud noise would be a trouble shooting problem.
- Frost build up can be assisted by unplugging the unit and allowing the frost to evaporate. If it continues, the unit needs to be troubleshooted.
- You can turn the unit back on and see if by unplugging it the situation is fixed.
If none of this works, please contact customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org, 800.777.8466, or submit a support ticket through Vinotemp.com.
- Be careful of damaged electric wires. If your cooler has a damaged electrical wire, have it replaced immediately.
- Pulling at wires or handling it harshly may cause damage to the unit.
- Never try to bypass the ground prong when plugging in the cooler. Doing so will increase your risk for electrical shock.
- Make sure there are no loose connections.
- Do not touch the cooler when your hands are wet.
- Carry out regular checks to ensure your wine refrigerator is functioning properly. If it is not and you are unable to troubleshoot using the instructions in the manual provided, unplug the unit.
- If your unit is not built in, be aware there is a possibility it may tip over. It is important to not pull all of the racks out at the same time.
- We recommend you anchor a free-standing unit, to avoid such a possibility.
- While a free standing and non built-in unit needs ventilation, this doesn’t mean it can’t be anchored.
- Servicing your unit should be something to consider periodically. Always check for dust build up, keep the exhaust areas clear and clean.
- Servicing your unit like a refrigerator is quite important to keep your unit functioning correctly, we do have Wi-Fi enabled devices available to advise if the temperature is off. Please visit www.vinotemp.com to find the Wi-Fi option
- Our appliances are rated by either ETL, UL or CSA, make sure that you see this type of seal before any purchase.
- We are here to protect your investment, whether a short term or long-term storage and proper temperature for red, whites and champagnes.
- Keep children and animals away from your wine or beverage cooler. You do not want to use an electrical cord that is frayed, it could cause issues like electric shock.
- Install a safety lock to keep kids and pets from opening the door. Sometimes your unit will include a lock.
- When you are disposing of your appliance, make sure to remove the door, so no animal or child is stuck inside a unit. Have the coolant/refrigerant removed and disposed properly by a certified technician, they will know how to dispose of the refrigerant in an environmental manner.
- Please be cautious with the packaging materials. Remove all plastic, staples and pins. Recycle them in your selected recycle bins.
Please contact us if you have any further questions. Our wine storage experts are happy to help!
1-800-777-VINO or email@example.com
Download the (PDF) version of the Wine Refrigerator Buying Guide