By Kori ~ December 1st, 2010.
The two biggest dangers to wine are wide temperature fluctuations and high temperatures for a sustained period of time. For wines that you plan to consume in the next week to the next year, which will probably be most of your wine, a dark, low-vibration closet in a home or apartment with a normal household temperature of 68 to 72 degrees is fine. It’s also wise to store your wine on its side, so that the wine remains in contact with the cork and keeps the cork from drying out. Actually, the color and thickness of the wine bottle itself are inherently a great help in protecting the wine as well.
For your high-end wines that merit bottle aging before consumption, you need to be more concerned about storing your wines in a proper temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Unless you have hundreds of these elite bottles and can afford to build your own cellar, a refrigerated wine storage unit is probably your best bet. Unlike a standard refrigerator, these units keep wine at an ideal temperature of about 55 degrees and 70 percent humidity, with a minimum of vibration.
If you are in the market for a refrigerated wine storage unit for yourself or for the wine lover on your list this holiday season, there are three units that we can recommend from personal experience.
NewAir AW-321ED 32 Bottle Dual Zone Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Recently, we received this wine cooler as a sample from Air & Water, Inc. The unit is a very attractive black cabinet with stainless steel trimmed doors. It comes with stainless steel racks, and wood racks are available as an optional accessory. Both racks are nice, but I preferred the stainless steel racks to match the décor in the room. In my opinion, the best feature of this unit is the dual zone capability. I have one side set at 45 degrees for storing white wines and the other side set at 55 degrees for storing red wines. It is very easy to operate with digital temperature controls. Overall, this is a great unit. The only drawback for me is that it only holds standard Bordeaux-style bottles. It will not hold Burgundy-style bottles (i.e. Pinot Noir, Syrah, Champagne) or really long bottles.
Chelsea Wine Cellar Credenza (42 Bottle – 2-Temp)
We bought this cooler three years ago from Wine Enthusiast. Not only does this unit contain two functional refrigerated units, but it is also a beautiful piece of furniture in our living room. The center of the credenza features a storage area for wine glasses and other wine accessories behind glass doors. We are able to store 24 glasses including champagne flutes and large Burgundy glasses, two decanters, a spit bucket, and a few other odds and ends. While we only store red wines in this unit and have both units set to 55 degrees, it has the capability to set each side at a different temperature. Unlike many wine coolers, this unit will hold different bottle styles including Burgundy-style bottles. Each refrigerated unit has a lock and key which is a plus when you have little ones in the house. The only drawback for me is that the temperature controls are dials rather than digital buttons. I can also speak very highly of Wine Enthusiast’s customer service. One of the refrigerated units stopped working just under a year after we bought it (during the warranty period). Wine Enthusiast replaced it with a completely new credenza immediately. Thankfully, two years later, we have not had any further problems. Unfortunately, it appears that this particular unit is no longer available from Wine Enthusiast; however, they do offer other credenza-style wine coolers.
EuroCave Performance 183 Wine Cellar
John (Dad) bought this cooler over six years ago from Wine Enthusiast. He speaks very highly of it. He lives in a condo and keeps the EuroCave in a storage closet which allows him to properly store a lot more wine than would normally be possible in a condo unit. His unit only has one temperature zone; however, EuroCave offers the unit with two and three temperature zones as well. It holds 183 standard Bordeaux-style bottles, but the height of the shelves can be adjusted to accommodate different style bottles. The unit has a lock and key for security. It is an attractive black cabinet with glass doors. This is a great unit, and EuroCave is one of the most-respected brands when it comes to wine coolers.
I tested all three units to see how fast they would cool a bottle to the proper storage temperature. While the “test” bottle in each unit got noticeably cooler each hour, it took each unit 24 hours before the bottle registered the same temperature as the unit’s temperature indicator.
Do you already own a wine cooler? Please feel free to share your experiences and reviews of other models with your fellow readers.
Filed under: General Wine Information, Wine Gadget, Wine Gifts/Accessories