A wine refrigerator can be an excellent alternative to a traditional wine cellar. Wine refrigerators or wine coolers are similar to a kitchen refrigerator but maintain a steady temperature suitable for the storage of wine. Instead of shelves, they have wine racking that holds each bottle in a horizontal position to keep the bottle secure and the cork wet. The body of the wine refrigerator and door are insulated and sealed, which helps to maintain a steady temperature. Most wine refrigerators also have a digital control panel that allows the owner to monitor the conditions inside the cabinet, an interior light that can be switched on and off as needed, plus a lock that keeps the bottles safe. In addition to these standard features, wine fridges are also available in single zone or dual zone, have different sizes and bottle capacities and are built-in or free standing.
Single Zone vs. Dual Zone
Depending on your storage needs, you may prefer a single zone or dual zone wine fridge. A single zone wine refrigerator has only one zone of temperature control, meaning the whole unit is kept at the same temperature. A dual-zone wine refrigerator has two separate spaces that are independently controlled. This means you can have one varietal in one zone and a different varietal in another. You may also choose to set one zone to serving temperature and another to storage temperature.
The size of the wine refrigerator you select largely depends on how you will use the fridge and the size of the collection you are trying to store. If you are only cooling 2 to 6 bottles to prep for a party or have a small collection, you may select a countertop wine cooler that only holds a few bottles. For more serious wine collectors with hundreds of bottles, they may choose a large wine cooler that holds 100-300 bottles or even combines multiple units to accommodate their entire collection. Common wine refrigerator bottle capacities are 6, 12, 18, 24, 46, 54, 99, 100, or 300 bottles. Since wine refrigerators are modular, you can always add more wine coolers as you purchase more wine. It is important that when planning for a new wine refrigerator, you take into account the number of bottles you currently own, plus allow additional space for growth.
Freestanding Vs. Built-in Wine Refrigerators
Wine refrigerators are designed for freestanding or built-in installation. Paying careful attention to how your new wine refrigerator should be installed is essential as it can significantly affect the efficiency of the cooler. A freestanding wine refrigerator has a rear exhaust. Each manufacturer will have specific instructions that tell you how much clearance should be kept on each side of the unit. Generally, if a unit is freestanding, it should not be placed underneath a counter or table and should not be installed too close to any other appliance. A built-in wine refrigerator has a front exhaust and can be recessed into existing cabinetry as long as clearance guidelines are followed. This allows for greater flexibility of installation and gives the wine cooler a seamless appearance in any space, particularly in the kitchen.
Wine refrigerators are a budget-friendly alternative with many features that will benefit your collection. Standard features such as a digital control panel, sturdy racking, and lighting help you organize and age your wine. Depending on your storage needs, you may select from a single zone or dual-zone model, pick a wine fridge that can house hundreds of bottles, or choose a freestanding or built-in wine cooler that complements your space. Your wine refrigerator is sure to make collecting wine easy and enjoyable.