Wine Refrigerator vs Standard Refrigerators
The key differences between a conventional refrigerator and a wine refrigerator are temperature, humidity and vibration.
Temperature: A regular fridge drops temperature rapidly, whereas a wine fridge lowers the temperature gradually. Regular fridges also go a lot colder then the temperature wine should be kept at. Wine needs a temperature-controlled environment, whether the storage is long term for aging or short term for chilling. Temperatures range from 38 degrees fahrenheit to 65 degrees fahrenheit.
Humidity: An everyday fridge is designed to keep your perishables cold and dry at an average temperature, which is too cold and too dry for the fragile makeup of wine and can cause the cork of the wine bottle to shrink and become porous. This lets surrounding odors to seep into your wine and spoil it.
Vibration: All-purpose refrigerators run on compressors, causing a vibration that interrupts wine maturation process. Wine fridges have a special vibration adsorption system to reduce the impact of tremors and noise that their compressors can create. This allows wine to mature at a natural pace.
Wine Refrigerator Configurations
Built-In: These units are built into a cabinet or enclosed space with front venting fans. They are flush mounted and typically seen in kitchens or home bars. Built in wine refrigerators are available in stainless trim, glass doors or even a wood overlay.
Freestanding: These stand independent of cabinets or walls are finished on the sides provide greater size varieties such as models small enough to fit under a counter top to full size wine towers, which can store 250+ bottles.
Single Zone – These are good for a novice collector that does not have a very expansive collection of wines. Ideally you would use this fridge if you are using it for one purpose.
Dual Zone – These are ideal for strong wines with different serving temperatures. They are separated in half and each side can provide a different temperature. White wines should be served between 45-52 degrees Fahrenheit and reds between 58-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Size Should You Buy?
There are a few different factors you have to consider when deciding on what size unit you will need:
• How much space will you need?
• Where do you plan to put the unit? Under the counter or on top of the counter?
• How large is your wine collection and do you have plans to grow it?
Generally you should aim for a unit with at least 25-50% more space than the amount of bottles you currently have, to enable for collection growth. If you like to entertain often or have a family get together that digs into your wine collection, it’s a good idea to have that extra space to store those additional bottles.
Locks: This adds a level of security and protection to your wine. Locks usually come in the form of a lock and key combination.
Internal Lighting: LED lights are a gentle and safe form of lighting that can enhance the look of your wine refrigerator and make it easier to read wine labels without compromising wine integrity.
Reversible Door Hinges: This allows you the option to change which way your wine refrigerator door opens, Giving you more design options in a room layout.
Thermostat Options: These options include manual, electronic and one-touch systems. Manual temperature adjustments allows you to set a specific temperature for your fridge. One-touch or electronic systems have digital temperature readouts. Some of these can limit your temperature range settings to pre-determined ranges that are deemed proper for wine storage.
Bottle Capacity: This is a very important storage feature. Wine fridges can store anywhere from 6 to 260 wine bottles. The average under counter wine cooler stores 24-62 bottles while the average wine stores 59-146 bottles.
Racking Options: There are several different wine racking options available; 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 are designed to lay your wine bottles securely on their sides. Slide out wine racks can be covenant because they allow you to easily view and access your wine. Some units also offer tilted racks for those who want to show off their collection.
Helpful Wine Storage Tips
Keep it in the Dark: Store all wines away from light; direct sunlight and UV rays can ruin wine.
Store Corked Wine Bottles on Their Side: This will help prevent oxidation and putting the label up will make it easier to spot any sediment that may have formed.
Don’t Move It: Any vibrations can negatively affect the wines aging process.
Isolate the Wine: Don’t put your wine with anything that has a strong smell, which can taint the wine.
Be Mindful Of Wine Expiration: White wines should be consumed after 2-3 years of storage and red wines should be consumed between 2-10 years.