Wine Storage and Refrigeration

It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur collector or a connoisseur… the right wine storage cooler is a must. If you keep wine around the house, then you need to make sure that your wines are stored at the correct temperature so that they age properly and maintain their body and flavor. You don’t want to open that bottle you’ve been saving for months on end, only to find it has turned into vinegar!

So you know that you need one… but how do you know which one to choose, or why you should choose it? Here’s 5 tips that will help you pick the wine fridge that is best for you:

1. How much wine do you want to store?

If you generally have 10 or fewer bottles lying around at once, there’s no point in buying the biggest storage cooler. Figure out how many bottles you’ll likely store at one time, and choose a storage cooler that allows for between 5-10 bottles over that amount.2. How much space do you have?

If you plan to store a large amount, then you’ll need the space! If you plan to store a relatively small amount, in your kitchen perhaps, then you need to determine how much space you can allocate to your wine fridge, especially if you plan to place it within your existing cabinets. Measure twice!

3. How much noise can you stand?

All fridges will make some noise, but if you intend to keep it in or near a room you use frequently then make sure it has a quiet operation. Even if you’re installing a basement model, you still want to ensure that you won’t hear it rumbling when you’re upstairs.

4. What sort of cooling system do you need?

Wine storage coolers can either have a twin cooling system or pre-set temperature controls. For most people, pre-set controls are all you’ll need. If you’re intending to store a large amount of wine, a collection perhaps, then a twin cooling system is a better option as it allows you to set two different temperatures in two different sections of the cooler. Regardless, make sure your cooler has an auto-defrost feature to keep your vintages frost-free.

5. How energy efficient is it?

Energy efficiency ratings go from ‘A’ to ‘G’. A rating of ‘A’ means that this model has the highest energy efficiency. Because your wine storage cooler will be constantly running, choosing a high efficiency model will keep your electric bills down.

Kelowna BC is the heart of wine country in British Columbia. If you are considering installing a wine storage unit in your home and you want it built to code, then call Shamrocks Plumbing for the plumbing and coolant. It is always a good bet to hire an expert plumber Kelowna for technical work such as this.

Never leave sensitive renovations like this to chance unless you are trained and know local municipal code requirements for piping and refrigeration settings in your area.

Temperature settings

Ideal Wine Storage Conditions

When you mention the word ‘wine’, your mind inevitably thinks of large wooden casks sitting in dark cellars for years on end. Wine must be stored for a while before it can be consumed in order to let its flavor mature. However, not providing the ideal storage conditions can work the opposite leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

If you are a collector of wines, you want to make sure your prized drinks are stored under ideal conditions. There are a few key points you should consider and we’ve discussed them below.

Temperature Settings

It is important to store wine at the right temperature to preserve it for a longer time. The ideal temperature is between 54 and 55 degree Fahrenheit. It is also necessary to maintain consistent temperatures throughout the storage period. Constant fluctuations in temperature will ruin the taste and render it completely useless. Thus, wines should be stored in a cool environment such as a refrigerator or a climate-controlled cellar. A climate-controlled unit is the best option because it not only looks after temperature regulations but also prevents mold growth.

Although wine is supposed to be cooled during storage, it should not be served cool. Allow it to reach room temperature before it is served so as to bring out the actual flavor of the wine.

Humidity

A high level of humidity also spoils the taste and the texture of the wine. Excess humidity keeps the cork from shrinking and causes the oxidation of wine. The humidity levels in the storage cabinet or cellar should not exceed 65% – 75%.

The space should not be cramped with too many bottles and air should circulate well in the cabinet. It will keep the cork from rotting.

Light Regulation

Wine bottles are equipped to prevent the action of sunlight on the texture, taste and color of the wine. They have UV filters to block the UV rays. However, they are not fool proof against sunlight. Placing the wine rack or the refrigerator in direct sunlight consistently will cause premature aging and spoil the taste of the wine. White wines take a greater beating when exposed to light.

Placement

A wine refrigerator or a cellar offers uniform cooling and heating across the unit. However, despite this you should pay attention to the placement as some wine varieties are more sensitive to light and heat than others. Red wines must be placed on the topmost rack, followed by white wines and ending with the sparkling wines.

The bottles should sit still without any movement. Vibration from continuously opening and closing the refrigerator or from an adjacent unit does not allow the sediment to settle. This interferes with the aging process. Wine connoisseurs always recommend storing wine bottles sideways and not upright. Placing it sideways keeps the cork in contact with the wine. This prevents the cork from shrinking and prevents oxidation of wine.

Wine should also not be stored with fruits and vegetables that rot easily.

Wine Cellar Ideas

If you do not have the space and other requirements to create ideal wine storage conditions and you have an extensive collection of wines to care for, you can consider using a wine storage facility.

When setting up a wine cellar, it is advisable to hire a contractor familiar with the nuances of humidity and controlled  temperature. Most plumbing contractors are capable of doing this, but should be consulted before any commitment is made. We suggest you get estimates from at least three local vancouver plumbing companies if you are overseeing the construction. Or alternatively, work closely with your renovations contractor to find a competent company.

Wine Storage Factors

It’s sad to see how many websites perpetuate myths about wine storage just to convince consumers that only the most expensive wine coolers/cellars/fridges can prevent fine wines from turning to vinegar overnight. Unfortunately, the truth is far less motivating. Below we discuss the basics of typical wine storage – i.e., wine held for personal consumption rather than speculation – and to help clear up some of the rampant confusion so new enthusiasts can make sensible, cost-effective buying decisions.

Terminology – Wine Coolers, Fridges, Cellars, Etc.

Wine Cooler vs. Wine Cellar – What’s the Difference? We see lots of blogs and other websites that attempt to define and separately categorize wine coolers, wine cellars, and wine refrigerators – as if they can be systematically differentiated. In most cases, however, you will notice that despite saying and assuming that they are distinct, the author can’t actually articulate any meaningful way to distinguish them. And when the do, most websites attempt to categorize wine “cellars” based on vague notions of price class, by calling them “high-end” wine coolers. That defines nothing, since prices vary along a continuum.

In other cases, the attempted distinction is more concrete but just as arbitrary – e.g., some say wine cellars must have humidity control. But this is also not helpful, since even the most basic wine fridges can come with, or be fitted with, some form of humidity control system, such as a simple tray of water. Finally, a third so-called definition that we typically see is that wine cellars are supposedly designed for more “long term” storage. But this too is impossibly vague and unhelpful, since most wine coolers/fridges are designed to maintain proper long term storage temperatures. So as long as the fridge or cooler holds up over the long term, then it can function for long term storage. There’s no fundamental difference as to how they go about maintaining temperatures, since cheaper wine fridges and expensive “cellars” alike all use the same types of cooling machinery (compressors or thermoelectric systems).

Simply put, wine coolers, wine fridges, wine cellars or any other temperature-controlled boxes/cabinets are all designed to do the same thing: maintain wine at optimal storage temperatures, generally around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Some can also chill whites to their proper service temperature (but that has nothing to do with storage). Of course, these units may vary greatly in their reliability and quality, but this generally has nothing to do with whether they are marketed as wine cellars versus wine coolers.

Please note that when we talk about long term storage, for most consumers, this normally means up to five years, typically much less. So if your fridge/cooler/cellar can function properly and reliably during this period, it can by this definition store wine “long term.” If you plan on storing wine longer than this, and your cooler/cellar has been running well so far, go for it. However, if you are storing fine wine as an investment, or are keeping ultra-expensive wine that you are passionate about, forget about storing your own wine altogether – put your best wine in a professional storage facility and only keep in your cooler the wine you intend to consume!

Maintain Proper Wine Storage Temperature

There is no question that temperature is the most crucial storage consideration of them all. But the decision as to which temperature is best couldn’t be simpler, and we are stunned by all of the misinformation that exists.

Store All of Your Wine at Around 55 Degrees Fahrenheit

The consensus among the most respected wine organizations is that the best storage temperature – for both red and white wines – is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s it! And no you don’t have to maintain this temperature exactly, a few degrees above or below this is fine. Don’t make the rookie mistake of confusing storage temperature with service temperature, which does differ between reds and whites.