Top 10 Wine Refrigerators
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Wine Refrigerator Comparison
Wine Enthusiast Slimline
Wine Enthusiast Silent 18
Nostalgia Electrics EWC008BLK
Wine Enthusiast Silent 32
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Wine Refrigerator Buying Guide
What is a Wine Refrigerator?
Wine refrigerators are used by serious and casual wine collectors to preserve the quality of wine. They can be small counter top models or large units and there are many varieties available to fit any wine collector’s needs. Today’s wine refrigerators come with glass front doors so you can view your collections, thermostat controls and some even have security locks. With the sleek looks many of them have, they look good in any room of the home or business and have become even more popular over the years as more and more people are becoming interested in collecting different wines.
Other names that they are known by include wine coolers and portable wine cellars. For wine to stay preserved for any length of time and maintain its delicious taste, it needs to be kept at a temperature of around 50-57 degrees, whether it’s red or white wine. This buyer’s guide will help you learn all about wine refrigerators and the features they have. It’ll also help you become educated on what to look for when you purchase one for yourself or as a gift for the wine connoisseur in your life.
Construction of Wine Refrigerators
Wine fridges come in two major designs: standalone and built-ins. Most of the ones on the market today are considered standalone and depending on the design, they can be built in to a counter or cabinet with no problem. What this is going to be dependent on is the type of exhaust they have.
Wine refrigerators that don’t have a compressor need to have airflow around them so these types of units are not able to be in enclosed cabinets and counters. When you purchase a wine refrigerator, most will state whether they can be built-in or if they need airflow around them.
The Exterior - The majority of wine refrigerators are made of stainless steel construction of some kind with most styles sporting a glass front door for easy viewing. These glass doors are typically mirrored or smoked in some way, as well as double-paned to protect against UV rays. The biology of wine can be changed from being exposed to direct sunlight, so these double-paned glass doors keeps the internal temperature at the desired output and is not affected by sunlight streaming in and heating the bottles up inside.
Make sure that you don’t put your wine refrigerators anywhere they would be in direct sunlight or in rooms warmer than 75 degrees. This will prevent the motor of the fridge from having to work too hard to maintain the internal temperatures that are the best for the wine inside. If your wine cooler has to overwork to maintain the right temperatures it is possible for the motor to wear out. If you live in extreme temperature climates, allow for that by getting units with extra insulation and strong compressors and find a temperature controlled room to keep it in that won’t tax the unit.
The Interior – Now more than ever wine refrigerators are great for home use. Most models have convenient moveable shelves that can be taken out altogether if necessary. This makes getting to the wine easier and can also make a difference when it comes to storage capacity. Sliding shelves making retrieving the wine you want easy too.
Most wine refrigerators come with some type of interior lighting and most often it is LED lighting. LEDs put out much less heat than traditional light, The benefits to having interior lighting is so reading the labels is easier and also, if the LED lighting stays on when the unit is closed, it can make for an eye-catching display of your bottles.
What Are Your Wine Storage Needs?
One of the best ways to get the right wine refrigerator is to know exactly what you need and want when it comes to preserving your wine. There are many questions you can ask yourself before you choose one. We’ve outlined these questions below so you can narrow down your choices and make it easier to get just the right one that will fit all of your needs.
- How many Bottles of Wine Will You be Storing? This question is almost a trick question because the number of bottles you think you will be storing and the number you will end up with will vary greatly. The best way to handle this question is to think about the number you want to store and then add a lot of additional room. For example, if you think you’ll want to store 20-30 bottles of wine, look for a wine refrigerator that can accommodate at least 100 bottles. It may sound like a lot but once you start buying wine, you’ll find that you end up with a lot more than you intended.
- Pay Attention to the Capacity Ability – Capacity is measured by a standard sized wine bottle. There are many different sizes of wine bottles so if you’re buying larger bottles it will automatically reduce the amount of bottles you’ll be able to store. Units that have slide out shelves lose even more storage space.
- What is the Temperature of the Room the Wine Fridge will be in? – Since wine refrigerators are usually kept indoors they will generally all do a good job of maintaining the desired temperature to preserve your wine to its best taste. Putting it in a garage or in an un-air conditioned room and it can burn out the compressor and cook your wine too. If you live in extremely hot climates, take proactive measures to get stronger compressors and insulation unless you have a spot that will be able to remain consistently at around 75 degrees.
- Measure to Ensure it will Fit - If you can, find the spot you want to put a wine refrigerator and measure it BEFORE you buy one. Also be sure to measure doorways to get it to your desired spot and measure any other area that you will be utilizing to get it in. It doesn’t do any good to measure the spot where you’re intending on putting the wine cooler if you can’t get it through the doorway or down the hall.
- Ensure the Floor Has Strong Supports – Most flooring will be able to support a fully stocked wine refrigerator but it is never a bad idea to make sure, seeing as they can weigh close to a ton or more when full depending on size. If you have an older home or a modular home, it is important to make sure that the flooring is very strong where your wine cooler will be.
- What Budget are you Working With? – Wine refrigerators come in all sizes, styles and prices. Knowing what budget you’d like to stay within will keep you from looking at models that are out of range. Once you know what budget you’re working with, you can decide what features are the most important to you. You may need to get a simpler, less fancy model to be able to get the size you need. It comes down to what is most important to you.
- What Would You Like Your Wine Refrigerator to Look Like? – If you’re not going to have your wine fridge out in the open, you can look at less fancy models with no problem. If you want it to be front and center in your gourmet kitchen or dining room, you will want to opt for a more elegant and sleeker design. There are many choices out there so finding one with the finishes, lighting and looks you want is more than possible.
- Features and Options - Roll out shelves are just one of the many features that you can elect to have in your wine refrigerator. Others can include dual temperature zones, security locks, digital temperature control panels, recessed handles, LED lighting for looks and not just function, compressor upgrades, glassed paned doors, smoked glass doors, mirrored doors and more. Depending on what budget you are working with, you can get a really elegant, fancy wine fridge down to a simple, functional unit with no frills.
Types of Wine Refrigerators
A wine refrigerator is an appliance, so keeping it in the kitchen, entertainment room or bar area is a common spot. You may find that you want to keep it on a countertop or there may be a perfect corner that you’d like to put it in. The types of wine refrigerators are
- Free standing
- Eco Friendly Styles
If energy consumption is a concern for you, look for those that mention they are energy efficient so the unit will use less power.
Countertop Styles – If you live in an apartment or smaller home, a countertop wine refrigerator may be just what you’re looking for. They can sit right on top of a sturdy table, counter or bar and not be in the way at all. The capacity of the counter top units is usually between 2-12 bottles of wine so this is not typically a good choice for someone who has or wants to start a large collection.
Free Standing Styles – Most of the wine refrigerators you will find will be free standing units. Some can be built into a wall or under a countertop but for the most part, having them in a corner somewhere where air can get around them is the best bet. The main thing to remember about building it into a cabinet or wall is to make sure the compressor has front venting capabilities to avoid burning it out. The unit needs to have plenty of room to exude heat without becoming a fire hazard.
Free standing wine refrigerators come in all sizes and can be tall and slim or even really large if you have an extensive collection or plan to have one. The choices are endless and personal preference; budget and space all come into play when making your decision.
Eco Friendly Styles – A lot of the companies that make wine refrigerators are looking for ways to incorporate eco-friendly manufacturing in the building process of wine refrigerators. Everything involved in the process from how the materials are assembled to how the fridge operates is becoming environmentally friendly. There are some models of wine refrigerators that have near zero emissions and Energy Star compliant appliances can end up saving you on energy costs and reducing overall energy consumption across the United States. Some other things that help reduce power usage include keeping the fridge in a room that is already temperature controlled and also setting the internal thermostats.
Wine Refrigerator Zones
Wine refrigerators can be single, double or triple zone units. A zone means a section of the wine fridge that you put bottles into. The different zones in a wine cooler mean you can have different temperatures for different wines within the same unit. If you want more than one kind of wine, getting a wine refrigerator with more than one zone is a must so ALL of the wine will be preserved at the correct temperature for which type it is.
Single Zone Wine Cellar- a single zone wine refrigerator has only one thermostat and one cooling zone for bottles. If you only collect and drink one kind of wine, such as red R white, a single zone cooler will work fine for you. If you only have a single zone cooler and have red and white wines to store, be certain to store the reds on the top shelves where the temperature is about 5-8 degrees warmer than the bottom. The best way to get the most precise temperatures and best results will be in having at least a dual zone cooler if you have more than one type.
Dual/Triple Zone Wine Refrigerators – Dual and triple zone wine coolers have two or more thermostats and cooling zones. Most of the coolers that have more than one zone have digital control panels on the front of the cooler to easily adjust the different zones. These types of units are great for wine collectors that have several kinds of wines they want to store. You can keep the reds at one temperature while the white wines are kept at another. In the case of triple zone units, there is an additional zone that is perfect for keeping wine that is still aging.
Wine Refrigerator Power
There are two basic types of power/cooling that wine refrigerators have: compressor-based and thermoelectric. Both types have their benefits.
Compressor-Based Wine Coolers – Compressor based wine refrigerators use the same basic technology that regular refrigerators use to cool the unit. This is a much better choice for storing large wine collections. Compressors are much better at handling the change in temperature that rooms normally go through. These external temperatures of the room affect the temperature inside the cooler as well and a compressor is better able to keep the internal temperatures of the wine refrigerator stable.
Thermoelectric Wine Coolers – These types of wine refrigerators consume less electricity and are much quieter to run than compressor based wine fridges. They work by producing an electric current that passes through ceramic tile. The inside of the tile cools and the outside of the tile collects and dissipates the heat to the outside of the cooler.
What many don’t like about thermoelectric wine refrigerators is that their cooling power is less than a compressor based model. Thermoelectric wine refrigerators are the perfect type for small collections where the wine collector can put the unit in a cool place.
There are many design features that wine refrigerators can have. Things like reversible door hinges and locking options are all features that one can have in the wine refrigerator they purchase. We’ve outlined many features below.
Security Locks – Some wine refrigerators have security locks on the unit that is in the form of a lock and key combination. The benefits to having security locks on your wine fridge include keeping people from going in and taking inventory that you are saving for special occasions, keeping overzealous older teens out of your wine fridge, and peace of mind.
Internal Lighting – Wine is very sensitive to light containing UV rays and other lighting also like fluorescent and incandescent. Incandescent lighting can also cause a rise in temperature. All of this can result in damaging the wine. A great form of light that most, if not all wine refrigerators have is LED lighting. This is a safe, low heat, gentle form of light that enhances the look of your wine cooler, giving it an elegant look by illuminating it with a soft light but does nothing to raise the temperature inside the unit nor does it damage the wine inside the bottle either.
Interior illumination also makes it easier to read the labels on your wine bottles. If there’s any other kind of light bulb in your wine refrigerator, change it to an LED and you’ll be very happy with the results.
Reversible Door Hinges – This may sound like an odd feature but it actually can come in handy when it comes to placing your wine refrigerator in your home or business. Reversible door hinges allow the door to open in either direction which can allow the wine cooler to be placed in spots where they might not have been able to due to the door opening “the wrong way.”
Door Design – Wine refrigerators come with many different door designs. Some can be made of solid stainless steel; others might be solid wood or tempered glass. Tempered glass, wood and stainless steel all protect your wine from harmful light. The benefit to having the tempered glass doors is that it displays your wine bottles nicely.Some of the glass door models have smoked glass or mirrored glass, which not only do a great job protecting the wine from light, but they look great too.
Thermostat Options - Different models have different types of thermostats. These can include manual, electronic and digital one-touch systems.
- Manual – this type of thermostat gives users the ability to set the temps to specific wine collections but this can take research to make sure the temperature is accurate.
- Electronic/One-touch - these types of thermostats are easy to read, even from a distance. They are also easy to raise the temperature up or down as needed. Units that have these types of thermostats are usually set up with pre-set ranges that can go from 40-65 degrees.
Low Vibration – Jostling and movement can disrupt your wine collections. It is for this reason that wine refrigerators are equipped to reduce not only vibration but noise too. (Certain noises can cause vibration in the bottles) Look for wine refrigerators that list low vibration or vibration reduction in their list of features.
Sliding Racks – These types of racks make retrieving your wine bottles much easier but they can reduce the amount of space you have for actual wine storage. If you don’t mind losing that space, having slide out shelves can be a real convenience that you like having as part of your wine refrigerator.
Size – There is a huge range of wine refrigerator sizes available from small 2 bottle storage capacities to huge 150 or more bottle capacity. The size you get depends on your budget, your collection or intended collection and the space you have available. There’s nothing that says you can’t start with one size and graduate to bigger, but this does involve added cost when you have to buy another unit later on. You may decide it’s worth it to spend the extra money now to be able to expand rather than having to outgrow your existing wine cooler.
With all of this information in this buyer’s guide you will be able to choose the perfect wine refrigerator for yourself that will fit perfectly with your needs, and even your future needs. It doesn’t have to be difficult to sort through the available wine coolers out there. Now that you know what to look for, and what all the different features do, you can confidently make a decision you are sure to be happy with.
- Wine Enthusiast - http://www.homewetbar.com/
- Whynter 20 Wine Cooler - http://goodfridgefreezers.com/
- NewAir 181E - http://cache.air-n-water.com/