The wine in your fridge is starting to take up a bit more space than you’d like, causing you to choose whether you store your red wine, or a carton of milk, and you’ve realized it’s time to give the wine its own home – that’s right, you’re in the market for a wine fridge. Whether you’re buying the wine fridge because you’d like to keep a few bottles longer than the twenty-four hours you usually do post-purchase, you’ve run out of space in your fridge or on your counter, or because you just think it makes you look sophisticated, buying one can be a daunting task, so here are some quick tips as we enter the prime purchasing season.
First, we want to be clear, our tips are for people searching for an affordable option to store under 50 or so bottles. We’re talking the low to mid hundreds in price. If you are looking for an expensive wine cabinet to cellar your collection, there are plenty of places out there to find the best products, but this advice probably isn’t for you.
Smaller wine fridges mainly break down into two types: fridges that have a compressor like a normal refrigerator and “silent” fridges that are thermoelectric.
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
The fridges that use a thermoelectric system are often touted as better because they’re very quiet. If silence is golden to you, then by all means, look in to buying one of these units, but thermoelectric units don’t really bring cool air into the unit as much as they pull heat out of the unit. Once the heat has been pulled out, the fridge just helps keep the cooler air that has been separated from the hotter air inside. If you’re starting to feel like this means thermoelectric units don’t really cool the bottles all that much, you’d be right. But hey, they’re quiet, and that’s one of the main reasons they’re so popular.
Compressor units, on the other hand, function just like a mini fridge would. When the thermostat inside senses the temperature has risen above the set degree, the compressor kicks on and cools the entire unit back down. While the hum of the compressor may be a bit noisier than the thermoelectric units, they work much better at actually keeping the bottles cool, which is why we prefer them.
After deciding on the type of wine fridge to buy, it’s time to decide if you purchase a fridge with single or dual zone temperature controls. What having a fridge with dual zones means is that in theory you’ll be able to have two different temperature levels inside your fridge, thereby keeping your whites and reds at their separate temperatures. But if you’re in the market for a fridge that holds under 50 bottles, this idea of two truly separate zones doesn’t really exist in reality. That’s because the fridge is so small, it’s pretty hard to ensure the top stays cold and the bottom a bit warmer, or vice versa. We actually spot tested a few of these dual zone fridges, and the temperature was pretty consistent throughout.
So don’t waste your money on the idea that for this size you’ll be able to keep your wines at different temperatures; simply buy a single zone fridge and set it to sixty degrees. Good for both your reds and your whites.
Finally, the size and style of the fridge is really up to you. Whether you prefer wood or metal racks, and either a black or stainless steel exterior, allow what you purchase to be dictated by your style. Also, keep in mind that a fridge’s bottle capacity is usually based on the standard Bordeaux-style bottle, so if you aren’t able to fit exactly 50 bottles inside the unit, it’s probably just because your bottle sizes are all different, which prevents them from perfectly fitting together. Don’t assume you were lied to by the manufacturer.
Header image via Shutterstock.com