Wine Talk

Snooth User: clintob

Wine fridge?

Posted by clintob, Feb 29, 2008.

I've read a few blog posts about this (even one at Snooth I believe?) but I'm looking for a good small wine fridge that's nice and quiet. I don't mind spending a few bucks for quality, but I want something that will fit inconspicuously in my small apartment, hold 8-12 bottles ideally, and in a perfect world would have two zones for red and white.

Anybody have suggestions?

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Feb 29, 2008.

I have one of these:

It's small and very quiet and inexpensive (I think just shy of a hundred bucks). The only problem I've had with it is that some of the fatter bottles won't fit as well.

Reply by Philip James, Feb 29, 2008.

8-12 bottles won't cut it. You dont need 100, but imagine over time you save even 3 or 4 for special occasions you are now left with 4 bottles for storage. I'd say get a 20 bottle one at a minimum. Then you can store a few, maybe even a magnum and fit a case in as well.

Reply by andrew, Feb 29, 2008.

I found one at Target for under $100, I think it's also an Avanti, but I'll have to look up the brand when I get home, but it's a 12 bottle 1 zone cube that I keep atop my regular fridge. My apartment has steam heat which I have no control over, so the inside temperature during the winter months tends to be either 80 degrees or freezing.

I just pop my whites into the freezer for a few minutes before serving.

Reply by corskier, Feb 29, 2008.

There's a Haier 16 bottle I believe available at our local Lowe's for about $150. It's one of the taller ones, so it fits some spaces easier, although I recommend you buy a larger one as well. When I bought my 36 bottle wine cooler I actually already had a 70 bottle collection, so just my longer, age-worthy selections made it in there, but I might need a 100+ soon. You never know when you'll find an amazing sale on your fave wine and need more space right away!

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Feb 29, 2008.

Before investing in a fridge, you should be sure to purchase Vacuvin stoppers. These babies will preserve your unfinished bottles for days. After 2 weeks, they should pay for themselves.

For a fridge, you'll want at least 16 btls capacity. Anything smaller will consume the same amount of energy, but not hold anything. As for the dual zones, that's kind of a misnomer to sell expensive wine fridges to suckers who don't know better. What do you want 2 zones for? So that both your red wines and your white wines are kept at "drinking temperature?" If you put red wine in a wine fridge, then it will be at cellar temperature - you'll need to allow it to warm up before serving. Meanwhile, most wine fridges won't get whites or sparklers cold enough to drink - which you'll discover the first time you open a cool bottle of Champagne and it foams and bubbles for 20 minutes before going totally flat. So a wine fridge can keep your whites and reds at cellar temperature... which is better than leaving this in in the kitchen or in the fridge. However, you'll still have to chill the whites and warm the reds before drinking them.

Here's a 16 bottle one for just $105!

I have a 28 bottle one in my apartment that is perfect. It is about the size of a large dorm fridge and is whisper quiet, and has its own light so that you can always clearly see the labels when you are looking for something to drink.

I got it for around $200 on sale and picked it up (since shipping and handling on these things can run into the 3 digits). I removed the bottom 3 shelves so that I have racking for 12 bottles and can put 16-18 bottles in it standing up on the bottom of the fridge (Champagne, Sherry and other things that don't need to lie down plus a various half dozen open bottles from work).

If you apartment is really small, you'll have to put a plant on top of it and tell anyone who asks why 8% of your living space is taken up by a wine fridge that you inherited your uncle Rufus' wine collection and want to take proper care of it. To pull off this line, its usually better to have your bottles of Thunderbird and Cisco stored with the labels down.

Reply by gr, Feb 29, 2008.

I may be walking into a bit of NYC-sourced flamage here, but... is a wine fridge in any way necessary if you actually have a cellar?

I mean, I rent not own (for now), but I rent in Philadelphia, which means I have a "trinity" (three room--plus a rear addition and 1.5 baths--but vertically, plus a basement), and I'm far from alone in that sort of arrangement within major urban areas in the US.

The laundry machines and the furnace itself are in the basement, but no hot air comes out down there. I'm pretty sure it's not even worth two of my dollars to have a wine-specific refrigerator when I can spend roughly that on a few pieces of wood to rack hundreds of bottles in my basement.

Am I missing any solid reasons for yet another blip on my power bill?

PS, Mssr. Boulanger, the astute observer will recognize Thunderbird and the mostly ignorant Cisco for what it is regardless of label visibility.

Reply by Healy, Mar 3, 2008.

Can someone recommend a 40 or 50 bottle fridge that is decent? I'd prefer efficient power consumption and low noise. If it can fit under a kitchen counter that would be even better.

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 5, 2008.

@Healy check out -

@gr Yes this is a very apartment-centric line of thinking.

Overall, purchasing an expensive wine fridge is usually a waste. There are many better uses of your money (vacuvin stoppers, a decanter, good glassware, etc). However, if you do live in an apartment (or a house in California or Florida) you will need a way to store you wine in a dark, cool, not to dry place.

If you have the luxury of a house with a basement, then wooden racking could be your best wine storage solution. Does your basement space meet the following criteria:

1. Is it dark most of the time? You want to avoid direct sunlight, but also basement any work area that will frequently have the lights on.
2. Is it cool with very little variation in temperature? The cooler you store your wine, the slower it will age. The slower the aging, the better (within reason... if its too cold you'll have to leave your wine collection to your offspring). Varying temperatures and drafts can play havoc on aging wines. You'll want a space that might vary a bit between summer and winter, but doesn't get hot every time the boiler or hot water heater comes on.
3. Is it humid? You'll want at least 50% humidity so that your corks don't dry out too much. 65% to 75% is ideal. Of course, the more humid it is, the more fungus you'll have to wipe off when it comes time to enjoy the wines.
4. Does the basement ever flood? Even if you don't have water problems, its still a good idea to keep the bottles at least 6 inches off the floor.

Now, just as with fridges, there are many ways to spend enormous sums on racking. Skip the expensive stained racks with slots for individual bottles and spend the funds on better wine! I have found that diamond bins like this ( and are the most useful when standing vertically or horizontally. I am sure you can construct a working version of it for less than $642.

Since we've been having large temperature variations in the northeast this week, you might want to put a thermometer in the prospective wine cellar and check it every 24-48 hours for the next month or so.

Reply by Ryan Moynagh, Mar 6, 2008.

I need some advice...

iI I want storage for 200 bottles I not better buying 2 wine fridges with no dual temperature control, rather than 2 with this appliance of science?

Anyone know how it stacks up economically?


Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 6, 2008.

You are always better off buying single zone wine fridges... the problem is that most of the 100 bottle units a super premium and have all the bells and whistles.

Another possibility if you don't care about looking pretty is to buy 2 regular fridges and 2 thermometers.

Reply by gr, Mar 12, 2008.

@RBoulanger (last): I had the impression that regular fridges, even "dorm" fridges wouldn't usefully stay at an appropriate (ly high and constant) temperature for wine without an inappropriate quantity of internal humidity, and that's why there even was a justifiable market in wine-specific refrigeration. Did I miss something?

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 13, 2008.

@gr Most wine fridges are dorm fridges with glass doors. You have to spend serious coin ($500) to get a wine fridge with significantly upgraded internals. That's why I suggest the bargain solution of dorm fridges coupled with thermometers to figure out the proper temperature settings.

However, all this wastes a lot of space and energy while creating noise and heat. If I sign off on your basement, then the Les Caves de G.R. (prounounced "Djay-Air") will be the best solution.

Reply by gr, Mar 13, 2008.

Maybe I can sublet the space or something.

Now that the rats that filtered in from the basement next door are... ahem, expired.

Reply by Philip James, Apr 8, 2009.

OK, ok, now I'm on the Wine Fridge trail - I'm thinking I need to be able to store 60 odd bottles, a fe cases for aging, a few specials and some every day wines. I dont have space for anything too big - any specific ideas?

Reply by gr, Apr 8, 2009.

Rent some space in Greg's dad's basement? ;^>

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 8, 2009.

60 is pretty large.
A dishwasher size unit holds 36-40 and a full fridge size one holds twice that, so your request is kind of in a dead zone.

Reply by Philip James, Apr 8, 2009.

OK, dishwasher sized then... 35-40 bottles

Reply by dmcker, Apr 8, 2009.

OK, another relief pitcher enters the game, and I'll be throwing a few curves.

If you're going the wine fridge (and not cellar) route, take the time to learn what system is used for the cooling, and humidity control (and you definitely want humidity control). with the smallest versions I suppose it makes no difference since you won't be storing the wine for all that long, but if you intend to keep bottles for any length of time, it pays to choose the right system.

You'll commonly find at least three types of systems on the market right now. One is the 'old-fashioned' compressor-based system, another the even-more-old-fashioned ammonia based system used in old-school refrigerators, and then there's the new-fangled 'perche' system. There are potential problems with all three, and I'll relay what a group of us learned during some industrial-strength tests earlier in this decade over here in Tokyo.

The perche system has fewer moving parts as it cools by striking electromagnetic waves against a metal plate and playing off the ensuing temperature differential. It requires relatively less space, is vibration-free, and is high-tech enough that it's gained a 'cool' cachet, so all sorts of people have rushed to buy it (and build it) over in this part of the world. One small problem ;-(. It turns wine brown over time (and not even that long of time) since wine from any varietal we tested didn't seem to like any sort of electromagnetic seepage. I say keep the mini-perche systems for sensor temperature control in my handheld cameras, but well away from my wine...

Ammonia-based systems (which is all Eurocave, for example, markets over here) are just gussied up refrigerators, and old-skool ones at that. I've mentioned in another thread that we found in other research that summer temperature spikes in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka were causing the units to ice up so much that thermostat and de-icing subsystems began failing. Not good for the wine... ;-(

Finally, the compressor systems. Many people complain about their vibration, and how this is bad for the wine. Yeah, it is, so look for a compressor system that has the least vibration. At the point we researched a few years ago, Forster (out of Switzerland) had far-and-away the best units for either industrial-capacity storage, or home wine coolers. Very, very little vibration (they and Hitachi have historically had the largest compressor businesses worldwide), and they have excellent humidity control, to boot. Seems they got into the business because they were building variable-humidity vegetable racks for markets, and discovered that with a few tweaks they could also use their technology to build a better wine fridge. Only downside with them is that they are not low-end purveyors, like, for example, Haier, which is one of the largest white-goods manufacturers out of China. So price will be an issue.

My vote will always go for a real cellar, in whatever form that may be possible. If you absolutely need a wine fridge and don't want to drink up all your bottles in a month or so, go for a compressor-based system with the least vibration and the best humidity control.

For further reading you can also check these two earlier threads from the forum:

Philip/Greg/Mark: how's it going on the Snooth Wine Resource Center/Snooth Wine Wiki? ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Apr 8, 2009.

As a footnote to the above, perche systems are more often referred to as thermoelectric cooling systems in the English speaking world...

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 9, 2009.

So Philip, it comes down to what you are trying to accomplish with your fridge. Do you have too many bottles lying around? Is your regular fridge clogged with wine? As dmcker points out, there's no substitute for a proper cellar for aging things. The idea of leaving a Cab or Bordeaux in a fridge to age for a decade has always seemed artificial to me. Moreover, with the amount of $ spent on electricity, you could probably afford to start buying aged wines.

As mentioned previously, Stephen and I picked up this from the wine enthusiast a few years back. It was on sale for $199 and we went to Elmsford to pick them up (because shipping is half the price on these little suckers). However, it is clearly a rebadged Avanti that you can pick up in many places for $180 to $200 (get a zipcar and go to costco or home depot). No complaints about the little guy - the dreaded Perche thermoelectric system makes it quiet enough to survive in the living room (where it lived for 3 years).

However, I don't keep anything valuable in there. I have many whites and champagnes in there, but since the system only goes down to 54 degrees, they need a little fridge or freezer time to be ready to drink... however far less than starting from room temperature. Since my regular fridge usually has a few open, but vacuvin'd bottles of white, I have removed the lower shelves of the wine fridge to allow it to hold open but vacuvin'd bottles of red wine, port, sherry, vermouth, etc standing up at 54 for mild preservative effects... but it also leaves them closer to drinking temp. Also, thanks to a tip from Greg, I've been keeping those little silica gel packets from packaging and throwing them in the back of the fridge to regulate humidity better.

@dmcker - Since everything rotates through my Perche pretty quickly, I haven't seen the browning. I'd love to hear more about your experiences. Couldn't find any other Perche horror stories on the net. Maybe the newer systems are better? Doesn't make much sense since electromagnetism is electromagnetism.

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