If you are passionate about wine, then you must store it correctly. Due to various chemical reactions, all wine will eventually go off, this is accelerated by storing it at the wrong temperature, the wrong humidity or worse still, the wrong temperature and the wrong humidity – to delay this you must store your wine correctly. After all, it doesn’t matter if you have spent a few pounds on a bottle of wine, or thousands of pounds, you do not want to store it, only to find that when you come to drink it, it has gone off. Storing it correctly will ensure that your wine will last longer.
We have all seen grand country houses with wine cellars where the wine can be stored correctly at the right temperature and humidity. Unfortunately, in this day and age, not many of us have such facilities – this is where the wine fridge steps in. The wine fridge stores the wine at the correct temperature and humidity until you are ready to enjoy it. This is vital if you are storing it for personal consumption at a later date, or if you plan to store it as an investment – the right wine fridge will replicate the temperature and the humidity of a traditional wine cellar . Wine fridges range from counter top fridges that contain a small number of bottles which can be positioned virtually anywhere, fridges intended to be integrated into your kitchen, through to large free standing fridges intended to store many bottles for the serious wine connoisseur or a hotel or restaurant.Wine fridges are specifically designed to help you to store your wine correctly and mimic the conditions of a cool damp cellar.
So, I hear you say, “can’t I just store my wine in my domestic fridge?” No! Your normal domestic fridge has three main problems with it. Firstly it is too cold to store your wine at for any time more than about a week, meaning that it will go off quicker. Secondly, the humidity is incorrect and changes considerably depending on what is in your fridge and how you use it. This is not such a problem with wines with screw-tops, however this can massively influence how effective a cork is at stopping air from getting to your wine. Thirdly, you store many other items in your fridge with strong smells and flavours which may contaminate your wine. So, only if you have no alternative, should you use your domestic fridge to store your wine, and then only for a small time. “Ok, so what about my beer fridge?” No! Beer fridges have become massively popular over the last few years. However, these are generally just small versions of your domestic fridge – that is they are too cold. They do have the advantage that strong flavoured and smelling foods are not generally stored in them, however they do not generally have racks inside them to ensure that wines can correctly be stored on their side and do not control humidity. So, better than a domestic fridge? Arguably. As good a place to store your wine as a wine fridge? Certainly not!
So, once you have decided to safeguard your wine and store it correctly the next obvious question is “what features should I look for when buying a fridge?.” This can potentially be a confusing topic, so let’s discuss the features that you may want to consider when deciding what fridge to buy. What features your wine fridge has will determine how effective it is at storing your wine, as well as how easy it is to live with on a day to day basis. Choose the wrong fridge and you could very soon regret your decision. Choose the right fridge and you could have many happy years of use. The following is not an exhaustive list but contains some of the things that you may want to consider when choosing your fridge.
Free standing, integrated, or counter top- Where do you plan to put your fridge? There are basically three types of fridge out there, free standing, integrated (sometimes called ‘built-in’), or counter top. Free standing fridges can be easily positioned in any available space or used to proudly display your wine in the middle of your lounge or restaurant. Built in fridges form an integral part of your kitchen, and as such your kitchen would need to be modified or designed accordingly. Finally, the counter top fridge is a simple addition to you existing space and can be added virtually anywhere.
Lock- Where are you planning to have your fridge? Do you need to restrict access in any way? On a domestic fridge this may be to keep young children from accessing your wine. In a commercial fridge this may be to restrict access, if for example, your fridge is in the middle of a busy restaurant. In addition to this, by restricting the amount that the fridge is opened, the temperature and humidity in the fridge will not fluctuate as much.
Multiple temperature zones- Are you planning to store different types of wines in your fridge, or plan to serve wine straight from your fridge – this may require different temperatures. By having a fridge with different zones you have a lot more flexibility in the way that you use it, and may be able to get away with not using a Wine Cooler.
Anti-vibration- Some fridges that are out there have ‘anti-vibration’ cooling systems. Consider how much your domestic fridge vibrates each time the compressor starts up, these vibrations will unsettle the sediment in your wine. By having an anti-vibration feature in your fridge your wine will remain undisturbed.
Temperature range and adjustment- Different wines need to be stored and served at different temperatures. By having adjustment available to you, you can set your fridge accordingly. Note that wine fridges can cool, OR HEAT your wine to the perfect temperature.
Noise- Where do you plan to put your fridge? There is a big difference in the noise generated by some fridges. If you are planning to put your fridge in a utility room then this is not a problem. However, if you are putting your fridge next to your dining room table it may be!
Humidity control- When storing wine, humidity as well as temperature is important. Higher specification fridges also control this. Obviously if you are planning on putting £10 bottles of wine in your fridge, then you are not going to spend thousands on a fridge. However, if you are storing many bottles of wine that are worth hundreds or thousands of pounds, then you may want to invest in a high end fridge which controls the humidity to protect your investment.
Tinted glass- UV light will speed up the process which means that your wine will go off over time. Many fridges have tinted glass or glass which blocks UV light to stop this from happening, thus replicating a dark cellar. Note that you should never store your fridge and therefore your wine, in direct sunlight
Sliding shelves- Many fridges have shelves that slide out so that you can find and access your wine easily.
Lighting- Lighting of your fridge not only helps you find your wine, but many fridges have LED lighting which may be coloured, giving your fridge a classy and contemporary look, turning your fridge into a display cabinet to showcase your fine wine collection.
So, if you want to get the most out of your wine, or you know someone who is passionate about wine, then make sure that it is stored correctly and invest in a wine fridge. Armed with the information in this article you should be well on the way to making an informed choice as to which is the best fridge for you.