Most people don’t have the room — or the budget — for a dedicated wine cellar, but anyone who likes to keep a supply of wine on hand should consider buying a wine refrigerator. These specialized refrigerators carefully control elements such as temperature, humidity and light to ensure the ideal environment for storing wine. Before buying a wine refrigerator, consider the following:
Types of Wine Refrigerators
Wine refrigerators are available in both under-counter and freestanding models.
- Under-counter models are typically 34 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
- Freestanding models vary in size but are often narrower and taller than under-counter models.
Temperature in Wine Refrigerators
One of the most important considerations you will face when buying a wine refrigerator is finding a model with good temperature control. Ideally, wines should be stored between 45 F and 60 F, depending on the variety. A wine refrigerator that maintains a consistent — and proper — temperature will ensure that the wine ages well and tastes its best. Look for the following:
- Models with dual temperature zones allow for whites and reds to be stored at different temperatures.
- Units with a single temperature zone are cooler on the bottom, since the cold air sinks.
Vibration in Wine Refrigerators
The compressors that produce the cool air in all refrigerators typically vibrate slightly, and wine enthusiasts claim that this vibration can harm wine over time. Look for units that include features to stabilize the compressor and prevent vibration. A stabilized compressor will also make less noise than one that is not.
Shelving in Wine Refrigerators
Well-designed shelving will make viewing and accessing your wine collection easier. Some considerations include:
- Adjustable racks that lift out easily to make room for larger bottles.
- Wooden racks for a more sophisticated appearance.
- Special inserts that hold bottles snuggly to prevent movement.
- Tilt-up shelves put prized vintages on display and properly store partially full bottles.
Features of Wine Refrigerators
Beyond the basics, some wine refrigerators include additional features that improve convenience, design or efficiency. Look for the following options:
- Digital temperature controls allow you to adjust the temperature without opening the door.
- Pre-programmed temperatures for white and red varieties cut out the guesswork.
- Integrated locks keep out unwanted hands.
- Tinted glass doors protect wines from harmful natural and artificial light.
- Custom cabinetry features, such as wooden shelves that can be stained to match surrounding cabinets and units that accept custom-designed doors, allow for a design that blends into the surroundings.
When shopping for a wine refrigerator, look at the options available and determine the ones you consider the most important to identify which model will be right for you.
Jessica Tolliver writes about home decorating and maintenance for many magazines, including House Beautiful Kitchens and Baths, House Beautiful Home Building, Good Housekeeping Do It Yourself and numerous special interest publications for Better Homes and Gardens and Woman’s Day. She is the author of two books on decorating, and she uses her microwave to disinfect kitchen sponges.