Welcome to our buying guide. This guide is designed to give a simple explanation of what you need to consider before purchasing a wine cooler or wine cabinet. It takes a look at the five golden rules for storing wine, and presents a number of FAQs and the various types of wine coolers and wine storage cabinets currently available on the market. If you still have questions after reading this guide, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team! Our experts will be happy to assist you!
5 golden rules for wine storage
1. Constant temperature
The perfect storage temperature for wine is 12 degrees. Although minor variations are fine (between 10 and 14 degrees), a constant temperature is the secret to ideal storage. Please note that the storage temperature and the serving temperature are not the same. If you are interested in storing wine for several years, you should invest in a wine cabinet that maintains a constant temperature of 12 degrees. If you intend drinking your wine within 18 months, you should invest in a wine cooler that always maintains the correct serving temperature.
2. No vibration
Vibration is harmful to wine and should therefore be kept to an absolute minimum. Wooden shelves absorb vibration better than metal shelves and should therefore be used. When purchasing a wine cooler or storage cabinet, make sure that its compressor is fitted with a silencer or that it offers vibration-free operation.
3. No light
Because light speeds up a wine’s ageing process in a negative way, all wine cabinets are fitted with a solid door or a UV-protected glass door. Wine coolers are usually fitted with a UV-protected glass door for the same reason. Check this before you purchase. If you are thinking about lighting for your wine cooler or storage cabinet, remember that wine prefers to be kept in the dark. Otherwise LED lighting is fine to use.
4. No bad smells
The cork in a bottle often deteriorates over time and this allows odours to enter. So it is essential to keep your wine cooler/storage cabinet clean and free from any bad smells. The best way to do this is to have a good ventilation system and a coal filter. The coal filter should normally be replaced once a year, so make sure the retailer from which you make your purchase also sells the filters you need.
5. Appropriate humidity
The bouquet of a wine develops through a reduction process when there must be no contact with air. If the cork becomes dry it will allow air to enter the bottle. Storing wine at a humidity level over 50% will prevent this from happening. A real wine cellar always keeps the humidity level between 50% and 75%, above which the humidity is likely to damage the labels on the bottles.
Different types of wine coolers and wine cabinets
Wine coolers come in a range of sizes, in a variety of colours and different installation options. Faced with such a jungle of choices, a guide might be just what you need. Small, cheap, with two temperature zones, here you will find the wine cooler that is perfect for you and your needs! But what is the difference between free-standing, built-in and integrated wine coolers? You’ll find the answers below. We suggest you also read the section further down called “Important questions to ask yourself when buying a wine cooler or wine cabinet”.
The most common and the simplest type of wine cooler is the free-standing wine cooler. A free-standing wine cooler should stand in a space that allows the heat it releases to circulate properly. That means it must not be built into a unit. A free-standing wine cooler always requires about 10 cm of free space all around in order for its ventilation system to work properly. Free-standing wine coolers are available with compressor cooling and thermoelectric cooling systems.
A built-in wine cooler is usually installed beneath the kitchen work top or inside a kitchen cabinet. We have a selection of built-in wine coolers in a choice of makes, varying from 15 cm to 60 cm in width, and a wide range of coolers whose door heights are designed to fit the kitchens sold by some of the largest chain retailers. Your wine cooler door should be the same height as the cabinet doors to create a harmonious match with your kitchen. If you are unsure which wine cooler is best for your kitchen, please contact us! Unlike free-standing wine coolers, built-in versions can be installed without the all-round space requirement. Built-in wine coolers vent from the front through the plinth. This must never be blocked or covered in any way! Unsure how to install your built-in wine cooler? Read our installation guide for step-by-step instructions.
An integrated wine cooler is always installed inside a cabinet space in exactly the same way as an integrated oven. Installation of an integrated cooler requires slightly more work than a built-in wine cooler. Integrated coolers are therefore often a popular choice among buyers who are refurbishing or building a new kitchen. Integrated wine coolers do not vent from the front. They are built in to blend seamlessly with the rest of your kitchen. Space is required both above and below the cooler inside the cabinet, however, to ensure proper ventilation. Read our installation guide for step-by-step instructions.
Wine coolers are excellent. But if you’re looking for a longer-term storage solution with ideal conditions for your wines, rather like a wine cellar, then you should invest in a wine cabinet. Top-quality wine cabinets are designed according to the 5 golden rules; constant temperature (12 degrees), no bad smells (carbon filter), no vibration (vibration-free compressor), no light (solid door), appropriate humidity (lava stones, water tank and humidity monitor).
Sounds like a simple question, but it’s a really important one. If you intend to enjoy a frequent glass of wine and are not interested in storing wines for years, then you should invest in a wine cooler. If you intend to store bottles of wine for a longer period of time, you should invest in a wine cabinet. If you intend to store bottles for ageing and also have wines ready to serve at the correct temperature, we recommend you invest in a wine cooler plus a wine cabinet, or a multi-purpose cabinet.
If you are thinking of storing both red and white wines, it is best to have two temperature zones. If you are thinking of storing one type of wine, a single zone wine cooler will serve the purpose. Three temperature zones let you keep your wines at three different serving temperatures. This is useful if you want to have champagne, white wine and red wine ready to serve.
Once you start to collect wine, it is usually difficult to stop. For that reason, it might be a good idea to plan for a larger number of bottles than you had originally intended. Experience tells us that it pays to invest in a wine cooler with 20% more space than you first thought you would need. This allows you to develop your interest in wine over time without having to invest in a new cooler or storage cabinet.
A wine cooler must be placed in a room where the ambient temperature is above 15 degrees, otherwise the unit may not function correctly. The temperature in the room should preferably not fluctuate too dramatically. Most wine cabinet are fitted with a winter safety system that allows them to be placed in cooler spaces (down to 0+ degrees). This type of wine cabinet can safely be kept in a garage or cellar.
The capacity indicators given to different types of wine cabinet or wine cooler are solely for information purposes. They will help you make a decision depending on your requirements and available space. These capacities are based on a standard “Bordeaux 75cl tradition” type bottle. However, it is likely that you’ll collect bottles of varying shapes and sizes. You will probably stock your wine cooler with a number of bottles just below its maximum capacity, for practical reasons. For instance, if you only have Burgundy bottles in the cooler, you’ll have room for about 25-30% fewer bottles than the original quantity calculated for Bordeaux bottles.
It is important to consider the noise level if you are thinking of placing your wine cooler in a room where you spend a lot of time. The noise level is measured in units called decibels and this is specified for each model. About 40 dB is normal for wine coolers. You should expect to hear sounds from the compressor occasionally as it works to keep the unit cool. It will never be completely silent.
Sound is very subjective. What may be annoying to some people can be considered perfectly normal by others. You also tend to notice new sounds much more at first until you’ve grown used to them. It is a good idea to know which sounds are normal so you don’t worry unnecessarily that something might be wrong. A wine cabinet will make two main sounds. The compressor comes on at regular intervals and usually makes a low humming sound. The evaporator also makes a noise, rather like a submarine. This can vary in volume. Built-in wine coolers also emit two types of sound. These are usually the compressor and the fan, making sure the wine cooler is properly vented. The fan starts up quite frequently to maintain a healthy, odourless environment for the wines.
A wine cooler with compressor cooling works more or less like a refrigerator, and it is the most efficient cooling system. One downside to compressor coolers is that they make a noise when the compressor comes on - you should therefore choose a wine cooler with a low noise level! A thermoelectric wine cooler is usually quieter and works a bit like the cooling technology used in cool boxes. Thermoelectric cooling uses a Peltier device, which cools a large surface area. The cool air is then circulated by fans. One drawback with thermoelectric wine coolers is that they are not as effective as compressor coolers.
The zones are dependent on one another in a lot of wine coolers that have 2 temperature zones. Where this is the case, the top zone temperature must be at least 5 degrees colder than in the bottom zone. Contact us to find out about the zone settings of the wine cooler you’re interested in.