For the wine enthusiast, bottled wine needs to be stored in technology more advanced than the refrigerator where they store their pasteurized milk. If you, as a wine enthusiast, do not have access to proper and environmentally controlled wine cellars, then you will need a wine cooler in order to have any chance of proper wine storage, and in maintaining the quality and taste of your reserve of fine wine. The wine cooler is built to precise specifications that far exceed those of a standard refrigerator and these wine refrigerators/coolers are insulated with higher quality materials. The technology in a wine cooler is able to keep the perfect and precise 50-55 degree Fahrenheit temperature for red wine, and/or the 45 or below degree temperature for white wine throughout the unit. At the same time, the wine refrigerator is able to maintain this precise temperature with a 60-70 percent relative humidity level. In this case humidity and temperature are precisely balanced in keeping the wine perfectly preserved and keeping the cork in pristine condition. Using anything other than a proper wine cooler can cause your costly collection of wine to turn to vinegar, your corks to dry, or even worse, to begin to mold.
Features To Consider
There are a variety of features to consider when purchasing a proper wine cooler. As with any wine related item the options are endless, this will help you narrow the choices and simplify the decision.
The size of the wine refrigerator is dependent on two primary factors. The first is the location where you plan to install the wine cooler and the number of bottles you wish to store. Certainly if you choose a dual zone wine cooler you will have to determine the bottle capacity needed in each zone. Ask any wine enthusiast and they will tell you that you should purchase a wine cooler that is larger than you think you will need. This is because as a wine enthusiast yourself, you do not want to limit your wine acquisitions because you do not have any wine bottle storage space available. It is also important to remember that bottles vary in size. The typical bottle wine cooler lists its capacity for storing average sized bottles. If you end up acquiring larger size bottles you may end up with a lot less wine storage bottle capacity than you need.
When looking at a bottle wine cooler you want to place a lot of emphasis on the type of materials that line the interior of the cooler. The ideal interior is made of aluminum that has a textured surface. The aluminum is the absolute best way to maintain a consistent temperature throughout wine cabinets, and the textured finish reacts with the air inside in such a way so as to make the temperature control and the regulation of interior humidity easier.
The shelves within the interior of the unit are purely for aesthetic reasons and have nothing to do with the integrity of the wine storage. You can spend more for the wood shelves that are perfectly crafted to roll out and in for bottle inspection, but if you are choosing between the textured aluminum interior and the wood shelves, opt for the aluminum interior. The wine storage will be improved and you will not be worried that you compromised on your purchase and as a result put your wine investments at risk.
The door of the unit is also very important. Any high quality unit will have a door that is well insulated, but the non glass door will insulate better than the glass door. Of course most people opt for the glass door wine cooler because of the overall attractive design and appearance. If you do opt for the glass door then make certain that it is glass that is 100% UV protected so as not to allow any damaging light into the wine cooler.
The last thing you need to consider is the quality of the compressor and mounting of the shelves and doors. When the fit and build of the wine cooler is not precise, the compressor that cools the unit can cause vibration throughout the cooler. This vibration is detrimental and can harm the effectiveness of your wine storage, it can even damage the taste of the wine. You should always buy a quality cooler that is built to resist vibration. This means the compressor and shelves will oftentimes be mounted on rubber dampeners so as not to transfer any outside vibrations to the wine.
The best wine coolers also incorporate an alarm and warning system. The alarm and warning system will sound if the temperature is not being maintained, if the humidity is not being maintained, and/or if the door is not properly secured.
Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Thermoelectric wine coolers do not use refrigerator compressors to cool the air inside the wine cooler cabinet. As mentioned above the vibrations from the compressors can damage wine over time. This is a minimal risk with a properly built wine cooler but for some, they choose to purchase a wine storage system that uses a thermoelectric cooling system. The problem with these units is that they have a limited cooling capacity and limited ability to control relative humidity. They are also limited in overall cubic feet of air that they can cool. These types of wine coolers are an option for some, but not a good choice if you are not able to maintain 100% control over the temperature and humidity in the room where the thermoelectric wine cooler is placed. If you cannot control the ambient temperature around the thermoelectric wine cooler one hundred percent of the time, then there may be times when the thermoelectric system will not be able to maintain proper wine storage temperature and humidity and therefore ruin the wine.
Wine Cooler Placement
Once you settle on the features that you want for your wine cooler, you need to determine how and where you plan to keep the wine cooler cabinet. There are a variety of wine coolers all of which are built for a specific type of placement. Are you going to have the wine cooler as a free standing unit or do you plan for it to be placed in a pantry or other room? Does the unit need to be entirely self contained and attractive from all sides in a wine cooler cabinet, or will it be placed inside an existing cabinet, as an under counter wine cooler, or maybe even as a countertop wine cooler? The exact placement of the unit is the last decision you need to make when purchasing a wine cooler. First determine what you want and need, then determine how and where you plan to place it. If you plan where to place it first, then you may end up compromising on the overall cooler that you want, and need, and when it comes to being a wine enthusiast, compromise should not be in your lexicon.