Storing wine is a subject that should be taken seriously by all wine aficionados, both veterans and those who are new to the passion of great wine.
Decades ago people who collected wines had cellars and custom-made wine racks for efficient storage of their prized wines. A built in wine refrigerator is a more recent addition but may be just as important.
In recent years, this sector of the industry has changed considerably. Many more people are investing in wine racks, refrigerators and chillers so that their collection is properly stored and served for friends and family.
Some wines are best served with a slight chill so a quality wine refrigerator or cooler is an important addition. These can be of the standalone variety or can be built in to counter space or a wine-serving area.
Built in Wine Refrigerator: Size Matters
When you start shopping for a wine refrigerator or electric wine cooler keep this important tip in mind: Estimate how much wine you want to store, add 20 percent and then buy one slightly larger than that.
One of the regrets that comes up in conversations about wine and on Internet wine forums is the purchase of a wine refrigerator that doesn’t hold enough wine.
Some people start collecting and sampling various wines then lose interest. But others start the same way and gradually build their collection, only to find that they don’t have enough room in their wine refrigerator or on the wine rack.
Without getting into the details of what constitutes a good wine refrigerator, we should mention that quality matters as well. Make sure that the door seals tightly, the temperature control is very accurate and the shelving is strong and reliable. Remember too that wine should be stored with proper humidity. Once you locate two or three quality manufacturers you can start to think about the built-in feature of a wine refrigerator.
It’s OK to be creative and use your imagination when planning a space for your wine refrigerator.
But keep in mind that suppliers make units that are specifically designed to be built into cabinets or other room spaces. You can certainly use a free-standing wine cooler in a closed space if you make provisions for ventilation and access to electricity and so on.
In fact, most companies advise against using any unit other than one that is designed for built-in use. Appearance is only one consideration. It’s probably not the most important factor you should consider. Of course, the refrigerator needs to fit well, with surfaces flush to the cabinets etc.
But these electrical units must have proper ventilation. Built-in units exhaust the warm air from the front, which means that the refrigerator can be installed very close to a wall and in a tight cabinet space.
If your budget will only allow the smallest, least-expensive refrigerator you will probably be limited to storage for about two dozen bottles. Larger capacity refrigerators hold 50 to 100 bottles.
If you can spend a larger amount of money you may be able to get a refrigerator/cooler with two or more temperature zones. This is great for different types of wine but these items are usually very expensive.
Built in Wine Refrigerator: How Much?
Some of the slim-design units cost from $400 to $700 (these are approximate prices only). Some manufacturers recommend these items for both built-in use and as free-standing coolers. Refrigerators of this type generally hold about 25 – 35 bottles. Temperature is adjustable from 48 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Many units have removable/adjustable shelves to accommodate bottles larger than 750 ml.
Refrigerators that are in the mid-size category hold approximately 50 to 60 bottles. They generally have a single temperature zone. Danby offers a fine built-in wine refrigerator in this size. (Brand names are mentioned as examples only. This is not intended as a recommendation or review of a specific product.) Many of the top units have reversible hinges on the door for use in various settings.
Exclusive, high quality built in wine refrigerator starting at $500
In the $500 price range, Avanti has a two-zone, built-in refrigerator that accommodates 28 bottles and another model that will hold 46 bottles.
Check out such suppliers as Summit, Marvel and Vinotemp in this general category as well. Vinotemp carries a slightly higher price tag. Large-capacity built-in wine refrigerators (100 to 150 bottles) from companies such as Franklin and Sub-Zero will cost $1,500 to $2,000.
In summary, you should always plan carefully when selecting a built-in wine refrigerator. Include the unit as part of your overall construction project whenever possible.