QUESTION: I have been trying to do research online to find a good wine refrigerator for storing wine. Recommendations are all over the place and reviews are iffy - "great unit, beautiful, but will only last 2 years". I need something that is economical, will store over 100 bottles, is dual zone, and will last. It would be great if it were also energy saving and quiet, but I can live without that. Do you have any recommendations? Please feel free to completely change my way of currently thinking about wine storage. Thank you!
ANSWER: Hi Kym,
I have no personal experience of wine fridges for storage as passive cellars are adequate for most people in the UK but after checking your State Government's weather pages I agree you should be thinking along those lines.
The bit that worries me about the weather site is the wide swing they quote: 'Average annual temperature: 55.1 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures occur in July, the warmest month, averaging in the mid to upper 80s. Low temperatures in January, the coldest month, average in the low to mid 20s.'
An annual average of 55.1 deg F would be ideal for wine storage, but the July average in the mid to upper 80s is much too hot for wine storage and low to mid 20's in January is approaching the point at which most wines will turn to ice - and risk cracking the bottle.
So please come back telling me:
1: If you have an unheated cellar or do you plan to store your wine in a centrally-heated room?
2: What type(s) of wines you plan to store?
3: How long you plan to keep them?
4: Do you buy 'futures' or what I'd call 'en primeur'?
I'll expand on my answer as soon as I know.
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QUESTION: Thank you for your very quick response. Here are the answers to your questions:
Yes, Baltimore is too hot and too cold to store wine. It was 91 degrees Fahrenheit two days ago. I do not have a basement. The wines will be stored on the first floor, which is heated. However, I do not have air conditioning. That is why I need a wine fridge. I will be storing all types of wine - chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, Riesling, pinot gris, champagne, petit verdot... I think you get the idea. I have over 100 bottles of various US wines from various states. It is just me, so I don't go through the wines very quickly. The wines that can be aged will probably sit for 2 years before I drink them. I don't know what you mean by futures, but I do buy wine that I know needs to be aged for a few more years.
Thank you for trying to help me despite your lack of experience with refrigerators.
ANSWER: Hi Kym,
The wide range of your wine interests and your avoidance of wines such as the great Clarets and Ports that repay temperature-controlled storage for a decade (or more!) raises the question of the need for dual zones as that increases the cost substantially.
I'd look at the prices and availability of single-zone wine fridges capable of maintaining 55 deg F in an ambient of 95 as that would be ideal for maturing both whites and reds in your climate.
Light whites such as Californian sparklers may benefit from an hour or so's additional chilling in a normal fridge before service, depending on your taste, and you might want to draw the corks from serious reds at the same time as 55 would be too low for them to show well in the glass and an hour's breathing at room temperature may help them anyway.
But I prefer Beaujolais and other light Gamays cool as they often lose their freshness and become jammy at room temperature.
By 'futures' I was asking if you invest in wine that's not yet available and need to plan for long maturation after it arrives - which you don't, so I don't need to suggest it might be better to talk to a professional cellarage company who could guarantee proper and insured long-term storage for an annual fee.
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QUESTION: Thank you again, but I don't avoid Clarets and Ports. I have them, too. I didn't give you an exhaustive list of what I have. I gave you what was at the top of my head. From my research, dual zone versus single zone is only a $200 difference. Knowing that when things are more financially viable, I will be able to afford better wine, I'd rather get a dual zone now. Is there a brand that is better than others? Or should I ask my question to someone else?
Again, I greatly appreciate you trying to help me.
Do please ask one of my American colleagues about specific brands they have used! But you might find this overview useful: http://www.wineenthusiast.com/refrigerated-wine-cabinets.asp
If Port and Claret are also in the equation, I think you need to consider off-site storage too as these wines are best purchased in case quantities on release and matured for 10+ years before drinking, so we'd be talking walk-in cellars, not fridges, even if you only bought a couple of cases a year. Megabucks!
Have a look at the local service at: http://www.safeharbourwinestorage.com/services.html
before you go too far as I'd be surprised if a combination of a single-zone fridge for short-term storage (plus a pre-service chiller for whites) and off-site for long-term maturing didn't offer the best combination of convenience, reliability and cost.
Do please come back when you've decided as I'd be very interested in hearing about your decision and how you arrived at it!