A wine cooler is one of those little luxury items that you might not think to want, but once you have one, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Especially if you drink a lot of wine or frequently have a lot of guests who do, a home wine cooler will really improve the way you entertain. Designed to hold anywhere from 4 to over a hundred bottles of wine, digital wine coolers keep all your favorite vintages close at hand. More importantly, they keep your red and white wines at the perfect storage temperature, mimicking the darkness and humidity levels of the subterranean caves where the finest French wines are aged.
While connoisseurs of collectible vintages will probably want a more sophisticated climate control system, even the smallest wine coolers like this Six Bottle Vinotemp is perfectly adequate for most average home use and can be plugged in and sit right on top of your counter. Like many larger styles, this uses energy efficient thermo-electric cooling to help minimize vibration (which can degrade your wine) and has double-paned, UV-blocking glass doors to shield your wine from harmful sunlight.
Most wine coolers function on this same model, but there are a few things you want to look for. If you plan on storing opened bottles in your cooler, you’re going to need one with one or more pull out racks, like this GE Profile Deluxe Wine Center. This tilted rack will keep your bottles upright to prevent spillage, and as an added bonus they make a pretty nice display unit for some of your favorite vintages.
That said, you probably only want to store wines that you’ll drink within the year. More sophisticated long-term digital wine cellar options are out there, with multiple temperature zones and more sophisticated light and humidity controls that are important for more sensitive wines. But a very basic countertop model like this Danby Maitre’D with adjustable temperature settings for red, white, and sparkling wines is all you need to keep your 12 most delicious bottles at arm’s reach.
Keep in mind that single-zone coolers can only optimally store one type of wine at a time. To have a mix of reds and whites in the same convenient cooler, you’ll need a dual-zone machine like this Haier Wine Cellar. This is a freestanding unit which clocks in at just over 3 feet tall, and can even dual purpose as aside table. It has two dedicated (and interchangeable) cooling zones so you can keep up to 40 bottles of mixed red and white wines stored at their respective optimal temperatures. Because it’s a standalone unit you can stow it anywhere you’ve got an outlet.
When selecting a wine cooler, you want to pay attention to what range of temperatures the unit can produce. The Danby’s 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit is perfectly adequate; after all, wine ages normally between 50 and 57 degrees, which means this unit won’t slow, stall, or otherwise impair the aging of your wine. But units like the Haier one above have a much broader 39-65 degree range which offers a little more control. Anywhere from 45-64 degrees is acceptable, with 55 degrees being optimal for most wine storage, but units with a broader temperature range like this Avanti 12 Bottle Cooler are ideal for wines that are best served chilled and that you intend to drink right away rather than letting them age.
If you’re in the midst of a kitchen remodel, or considering one, you can even arrange to have a wine cooler built right in to your cabinets. These tend to be a little pricier, but also have a higher capacity, broad temperature ranges, and dual chilling zones. This 44 Bottle Marvel model even has soft glide drawers to maximize storage and zone-by-zone lighting for a beautiful display. The best part? It installs directly under your counter like a dishwasher for a seamless flow and no countertop clutter – the perfect little luxury finishing touch to a newly redone kitchen.
Whether you have a sophisticated wine cellar or currently just stash your bottles on the counter or in the fridge, adding a wine cooler to your kitchen or living area can not only enhance the quality of your wine, but make it easier to entertain. Every bottle will be the perfect serving temperature right when you need it, and your favorite vintages will stay pampered, on display, and close at hand! Do you have a wine cellar? Are you looking for a better way to store small amounts of wine, or just a way to save yourself a few trips down to your basement while you’re entertaining? Do you think a small 6-12 bottle unit is best, or would you prefer a bigger built-in style?