Buying a Wine Cooler
The wine evolves and improves over time. But, in order to do so, it must be properly stored. So, if you are a wine enthusiast and appreciate the differences and nuances in your wine (and your refrigerator is full of bottles with no room for the milk), then a wine cooler is a Must-Have. There are several factors that contribute to the decision of what type of cooler you will need. Some are size, bottle capacity, and zones. The more expensive your wine is, the longer you will want to age and store them.
Optimum Conditions for Wine:
The original wine cellars were caves because they provide the optimal conditions for storage: cold temperature, darkness, stillness, and slight humidity.
The ideal temperature for wine is an average of 55 degrees. This will prevent the wine from oxidizing or halting the aging process. A consistent correct temperature is imperative to avoid this.
Light can easily damage the wine via the sun’s UV rays and artificial fluorescent fixtures. So, darkness is essential.
Corks need a balance in humidity. A dry cork will crumble and allow air into the bottle.
Excessive vibration can generate heat that may cause the corks to shift. As indicated above, a good cork protects the wine.
Temperature, Darkness, Humidity, and Stillness are key factors that make the wine cooler a safe place to store wines as opposed to a conventional refrigerator. A standard refrigerator drops the temperature rapidly and removes humidity. It is designed to keep all manner of foods cold and dry. On the other hand, a wine cooler is designed to drop the temperature slowly and it maintains the correct level of humidity required to keep wines at their peak while it preserves the corks. It keeps a higher temperature than the standard refrigerator and higher humidity (but not too warm or wet) and that is exactly what preserves the quality of the wines it stores.
Stillness is an important part of the wine cellar. A standard refrigerator has a compressor that makes noise and creates vibration throughout its interior. Your food won’t mind. But, your wines will not appreciate it. The vibrations can impede the aging process. So, the wine storage cooler has a special mechanism that absorbs the noise and vibration allowing the wine to mature properly. Another important factor is odor. Your regular refrigerator is full of all types of foods and some have a distinctive odor. You don’t want that scent impacting on your wines. If your wine cork shrinks slightly (because of the low humidity level of the fridge) those smells will seep into your wine.
Although most of the wine you buy does not need to age and is ready to drink, many wines do need to mature even after you purchase it. When aged in the proper environment, the complexity of the flavor, texture, and scent intensifies and contributes to the complete experience of enjoying your wine. In conclusion, for all these reasons, the wine cooler provides the perfect environment for maintaining your wines that are ready to drink and foraging the wines that still have time to mature.
Once you decide that a wine cellar is something you need, the next step is to decide what size. The rule of thumb is that you need the capacity for about 50% more bottles than you already have. And, depending on how much space you have and if you are installing under the counter, on top of a counter, or as a freestanding version, your decision will be a combination of these components. All wines should be stored at about 55 degrees. But white wines should be served at about 47 and reds at around 60 degrees. So, if you are planning to use your wine cooler for storage, you don’t need the dual-zone feature. But, if you are using it for serving or for both serving and storage then dual-zone would be a good choice.