How to choose the right wine cooler?
Wine cooler vs. wine cellar
A wine cooler is a storage device that is used on a short-term basis to store wine at proper serving temperatures. A wine cooler is not used for long term storage for to age wine.
A wine cellar on the other hand is used for long term storage and for aging wine.
Buying a wine cooler involves some key factors:
Wine coolers come either as free standing or built-in. Free standing wine coolers are stand alone coolers that can be placed anywhere depending on your preference for location. They also come in a variety of sizes. Depending on the size, they can be either placed on a counter or on the floor – in the kitchen or living room on in the basement.
Built-in or under counter wine coolers are smaller in size and blend in with the counter space or home décor; for e.g. under a kitchen island.
Another very important factor to consider is the capacity of the wine cooler. The capacity is referenced in terms of the number of bottles that a wine cooler can hold. The capacity ranges from 6 bottles to over 450 bottles. Since people tend to buy more wine bottles over a period of time, it is better to buy a larger sized cooler than initially thought – so going big may be a better option.
In order to store wine properly (and age it), temperature is a very important factor. Even though red and white wine are served at different temperatures, all wine must be stored at a temperature that is between 53 – 59 degrees F (optimal is 55 deg F). Temperature fluctuations must be very minimal, if not zero. Temperature can usually be set from 45 to 65 deg F and can be set to the desired temperature.
Single temperature zone coolers: Single zone coolers have a single temperature sensor and so the temperature can be set to one setting for the whole unit. If a cooler is needed solely for storage, then single zone coolers are the best option.
Dual temperature zone coolers: Dual temperature zone coolers have separate temperature controls and displays; so the temperature can be set differently in each zone. Dual zone coolers are best used for keeping wine ready to serve. They can also be big and may be more useful in restaurants or other places. This enables to store both red and white wines in the same cooler.
Compressor units vs. Thermoelectric units
Wine coolers primarily use two types of cooling – using compressors or using thermoelectric cooling.
Compressor cooling: Wine coolers with compressor cooling use refrigerant just like a traditional refrigerator and can be set to lower temperatures. They are useful if the ambient temperature is not constant. They are more efficient at cooling. They may also last longer than thermoelectric units. Disadvantages of compressor units are that they can be noisier and bigger and heavier than thermoelectric units.
Thermoelectric units: The cooling in this type of wine coolers is achieved by electric current flowing between two different conductors. They are very quiet and energy efficient and causes less vibration. This type of cooling is typically found in smaller wine coolers and so these units may be ideal for smaller spaces. Disadvantages of these units are that they cannot get as cold as compressor units and may not be suitable if the home does not stay at a consistent temperature.
Adjustable shelves: Consider wine coolers with adjustable shelves as they give more flexibility to hold bottles that are larger in size. They also enable sliding out the shelves for taking out or placing bottles.
UV ray protection: UV light is harmful to wines and so wine coolers that come with tinted glass doors are recommended.
Digital controls: Digital controls and displays enable easy setting and viewing of temperature without opening the doors. The one drawback with the digital controls is that the temperature can only be set to a specific value and not to a range.