To preserve the aroma, flavor, and taste of wines, you need to store them properly. This is possible with a large or small wine refrigerator. But with the saturated wine fridge market, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
For your decision-making, below are some helpful tips for choosing the right one for you. Follow these tips for a faster process and more informed decision.
1. Keep Wine at Optimal, Steady Temperature
Wine refrigerators offer more temperature control than standard refrigerators. The all-around ideal storage temperature is 55 degrees. At this temperature, they age slowly and help maintain their aroma, color, and flavor.
Standard refrigerator temperatures can go down below 41 degrees. That's why keeping wine there can result in off-flavors. Ensure that the potential wine refrigerator can maintain a temperature of 55 degrees.
2. Avoid Vibrations
Too much movement can harm your wine. This is because there are small amounts of sediment in every wine bottle. With too much movement, the sediments can become agitated and spread through the bottle. When they spread, chemical reactions occur that change the flavor of the wine. This is why you should store your wine collection as still as possible.
Standard refrigerators tend to cause a lot of vibrations, which can affect the wines this way. But wine refrigerators offer anti-vibration features that will help you avoid this problem.
The vibrations will also cause noises. Fortunately, wine fridges don't produce noise as much as conventional fridges do. If you can’t tolerate too much noise, make sure the unit doesn’t produce too much vibration.
3. Check the Desired Location
Where do you want to put your wine refrigerator? You should already have a location in mind. This is important because it will affect what type of wine refrigerator you should get.
Air circulation is important so the placement of the vents will also differ with every type. Here are the two most common types of a small wine refrigerators:
Freestanding: A standalone unit with vents on the rear or sides. This type should be in a location where hot air can safely escape from the vent.
Built-in: This is a unit you install under the kitchen counter or between your cabinets. But, you can also use it as a freestanding unit. Instead of a rear or side vent, it features a front vent.
Your desired location will also influence the size or dimensions of the refrigerator. Will it be too big? Too small? You have to make sure that it will fit without any problem.
4. Get More Storage Space Than Usual
The best rule of thumb is to get more storage space than you think you’d need for the current wines you have.
A common small wine refrigerator can hold up to 40 bottles but you can get units that can hold more, up to about 300 bottles. Of course, you don't have to go for the ones with the biggest capacities. Add about 20% more storage space to accommodate more wine bottles for sudden events.
Choosing a fridge that’s larger than your needs will force the unit to work harder to cool the empty space. This may increase energy consumption and reflect on your bills.
For example, your usual wine collection is about 30 bottles. Instead of getting a 30-bottle capacity fridge, get one that can hold about 36 bottles. This way, you won’t have too much extra space but have enough space in case you need it.
5. Ensure Proper Humidity
Proper wine storage requires high humidity levels. This is to ensure that the cork is properly hydrated and the wine stays nice and cool. If the levels are too low, the cork will dry out and the wine will be susceptible to oxidation.
Although they're designed to maintain adequate levels, it’s best to check for this feature.
6. Limit Wine’s Sunlight Exposure
Aside from temperature and humidity levels, UV rays can also damage your wine. Exposing wine to direct sunlight may cause the chemical reactions to speed up. This will result in off-flavors and a fast aging process of your wine.
Aside from making sure you don’t place the refrigerator under direct sunlight, make sure that the glass door of the fridge is UV-resistant. UV-protected glass doors can limit the wine’s exposure to UV rays.
7. Go for Dual-Zone Refrigerators
There are two types of temperature zones a refrigerator may offer: single and dual. If you love drinking or collecting different kinds of wine, it’s best to get a dual-zone refrigerator.
Dual-zone cooling comes with two separate compartments for each temperature range. You can set one section with a higher temperature and the other with a lower temperature. With this, you can cool your red and white wines in different sections.
If you don’t need different zones, you can set them at the same temperature for single-zone cooling.
8. Consider the Design and Appearance
You also need to consider the appearance of your preferred wine refrigerator. Make sure that it will complement the style and existing theme in the room it will be in.
For example, if you’re placing it in your office, you can go for a simple design with crystal-clear glass doors. If you’re placing it in your game room, you can go for a more modern-looking design with tinted glass doors.
Ultimately, this will depend on your taste and preferences. Just make sure that it will look nice once you install it.
9. Check Shelving
Wine bottles with natural corks should be in horizontal positions. This is to keep the cork hydrated. Storing wines, in general, this way also helps age fine wines, even if they don’t have corks.
When buying wine refrigerators, check the shelving they offer. Get a model that features smooth rolling shelves that can hold bottles on their sides. Check if they’re also removable and adjusted so they can accommodate wines in different shapes and sizes.
10. Look for Extra Features
Aside from the necessary specifications, always check what other features they offer. Here are some of the best features to look for:
Security Lock: If you don’t want anyone else touching your wine collection, look for a fridge that has a lock. This will prevent any unauthorized access to your favorite drinks.
Reversible Door: This offers flexible installation options. With reversible doors, you can open your refrigerator either from the left or right, wherever is most convenient for you.
LED Interior Lighting: Make sure the fridge has interior lighting. It will make looking at and accessing your wines easier. The light also adds some aesthetic look to your fridge.
11. Make Sure It’s Energy-Efficient
Conscious of your electric bills? Check if the refrigerator is energy efficient. Your wine fridge will always be on to keep your wines at steady temperatures. If you want to cut the impact of this on your bill, check the energy consumption of your preferred model.
Also, make sure to install your fridge in a way and place that can easily remove the excess heat through its vent. Ensure adequate ventilation around your refrigerator, especially if it's a freestanding unit.
12. Buy What You Can Afford But Don’t Compromise
Last but not least, always consider your budget. Although it’s always tempting to go for the more premium and expensive ones, never spend more than what you can afford. Fortunately, wine refrigerators cost less than standard ones on average.
But, it’s also important not to compromise. This means that don’t go for cheaper ones if it doesn’t offer the quality features and specifications you need. It’s better to spend a little more on one with good quality than compromise. This is especially true if you have that money to spare.
How to Choose a Wine Refrigerator: Summary
Buying a wine refrigerator takes a lot of decision-making and is time-consuming. To make informed decisions faster, here’s a checklist of the things you should look for and consider:
- It can maintain the optimal storage temperature of 55 degrees.
- It doesn’t produce much vibrations.
- It can fit in the place you’ll install or place the unit.
- It offers about 20% more storage space.
- It can maintain adequate humidity levels.
- It has UV-protected glass doors.
- It offers dual-zone cooling.
- It comes in a design and appearance that complements your home.
- It has sliding-out and adjustable shelves.
- It offers extra features.
- It’s energy efficient.
- It’s something you can afford.
For some unit options, you can check our extensive small wine refrigerator collection. Check and find the right one you need!