Hey guys, I’m going to kind of talk about, when you’re looking into buying a wine fridge, what types of things you might want to look for, and sort of steer you into one fridge versus another fridge. Just to make sure that it really fits your application right. Also, I’m going to talk about the importance of temperature and wine.
One thing that kind of drives me nuts as a winemaker is, you’ll give somebody a bottle of wine and they’ll go home and they’ll drink it, but they don’t really think about what, maybe, the proper temp is for that wine. Temperature can make a huge impact on the actual taste of the wine. There’s sort of some ranges of categories of wine, and within each one of those categories, there’s sort of a sweet spot for temperature.
If we’re talking about Champagne, or we’re talking about sweet wines, whether they be white, or pink, or whatever, those are generally the wines that you’re going to want to chill. So you’re going to chill those anywhere from 42°-46°, and they’re really meant to drink at those temperatures. If you don’t chill those wines that are sweet, they’re going to end up tasting almost syrupy, and people are going to say, “Oh, this wine’s a little bit too sweet for me.” Well, maybe the wine’s just not at the right temperature.
Then you kind of have your sort of lighter-bodied red wines. So there’ll be, like, your Cabernet Franc, Pinot noir, the ones that are pretty approachable, not a lot of tannins. Oftentimes not in the higher alcohol ranges. So maybe the 12.5-13.5 alcohol ranges. These ones are going to be closer to your serving temperatures of, like, 58° to low 60s. Then, of course, you’ve got your big, bold red wines, like your Petite Sirahs, or your Cabernet Sauvignons. These wines are more meant for high 60s.
So, I’ve got my fridges set here at 66°. So if you were to open a bottle of wine at 66° and pour it in a glass, and let it sit and air out for a little bit, it will be, like, 67, 68, by the time you drink it, and that’s just right where you want it to be for those wines. If you were to drink a big, you know, 14.5% alcohol, high tannin, California red at, say, 55°, it’s just going to rip your … it’s just going to blow your palate out with the amount of tannin that you’re going to get, and you’re not even going to be able to taste the other tastes in that wine. So, you know, people are going to drink it and say, “Wow, this wine is just too intense. It’s not right.” Again, it’s just a temperature problem with that wine.
So, that kind of brings me to something that’s really important if you’re choosing a wine fridge, and that’s just having multiple zones. So you can kind of have your sweet wine, white wine, Champagne, sparkling wine in your cold zone, and then you can basically have a zone for your red wines. Even in some fridges, you might even have a third zone, so you could kind of have your light reds versus your heavy red zones.
Generally, I would call this, like, short-term wine storage. So as a winemaker you have a lot of wine laying around. So you basically have long-term wine storage, which is your racks and racks and racks that you might have in your basement, but if you have friends over you don’t want to pull a wine out of the basement and then have to try to manipulate the temperature to get it into that sweet spot. So that’s why I have wine fridges. Really one wine fridge should do you good. This one here holds 21 bottles, this one holds 29 bottles. That’s more than enough bottles, I would think unless you’re having a huge party. But that would kind of get you started.
Like I mentioned I was going to talk about, these are two very similar looking but really somewhat different fridges. This is more of a premium, high-end fridge. So this is the NewAir AWR-290DB-B. So that’s a tough one to roll off the tongue. Then this is the AWR-211ED. So, 21 bottles, 29 bottles, but the real big difference between these two is this is a thermoelectric wine fridge, and this is a standard compressor-style wine fridge, just like your fridge in your kitchen would have.
There are reasons why you would want to choose one of these versus the other. The compressor is a lot more powerful. So, this chill right down, like, really quick. This fridge will be down to temperature in a couple of minutes, this one might take two or three times as long to get down to temperature. It’s actually cooling down right now. So the advantage here is it’s fast, so if you have, you know, a restaurant or something, you’re opening and closing all the time this has no trouble keeping up. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, and your house is hot as heck, again, no trouble keeping up. But the disadvantage is the compressor does kick on and off just like a fridge. So you kind of hear it kick on, you know, every ten minutes or so, and kick off. You wouldn’t really notice it if it’s in a kitchen, but, like, if you’re going to put this thing in your bedroom or something, you would definitely want to target the thermoelectric model for that type of application.
This one’s actually pretty power-friendly. It’s only 90 watts, where the thermoelectric version’s 140 watts. The thermoelectric fridges use what’s called a Peltier cooler, so here’s a little one. It’s basically a chip that you apply a current to it, and one side gets really hot and the other side gets really cold. So they put a large heatsink on it, run fans across it, and it’ll chill the inside and create a little bit of heat on the back side.
So it’s a pretty cool little thing, and it’s great for if you have a small apartment, or, like, a studio apartment, or just you want to put a wine fridge, like, in a living area. These thermoelectric fridges are great for that. The one sort of disadvantage of the thermoelectric versus the compressor is, this one’s vented on the back so I probably wouldn’t mount this into your kitchen countertop. I would say this one kind of needs some airflow back here. It’s got fans in the back, and it really just needs flow to cool those Peltier heaters or coolers.
Where this one here is actually sort of intended to go in your kitchen, to be built in. So if you’re doing a kitchen remodel or something, this one’s standard cabinet height. It’s got venting in the front versus the back, so it has some airflow going through here. So you don’t have to really leave much space in the back or anything like that. As I said, it’s got a lot of power, and generally, compressors are pretty reliable. Peltier heaters or coolers are also pretty reliable, but, I mean, a compressor, these things have been around forever.
The premium model fridges the lighting on these is pretty soft and nice actually, it’s not very directed. You can turn the lights off and you can turn them on. I like to turn them on if there are people over, but in reality, I don’t usually leave them on. This has sort of like a smoother touch-pad versus actual sticking-out buttons. Actually, all these NewAir fridges have these nice wooden racks versus, like, I had an older wine fridge that had these sort of metal racks. You see those on a lot of the cheaper fridges.
This one, for a 29-bottle fridge, is actually pretty small. But that sort of comes with its own disadvantage. So, to fit 29 bottles in here basically means you have to alternate them, and on the bottom you actually stack them. It’s nice because you can fit 29 bottles, but ideally, you wouldn’t want to always load this thing at max capacity. A feature that you definitely want to make sure your wine fridge has is just a double-paned glass front, just to hold the cold in. Then a feature that this one has, that I don’t really need, but if you had kids or something you might want, is this one’s actually lockable. So it’s something to consider if you want to make sure nobody gets into your wine.
Now this one here’s the more inexpensive model, and this is the thermoelectric model. If you look at the differences between the two, like, from the outside, the fit and finish are actually very similar on these two. They both look really high-quality. This is, like, black stainless steel, whereas this is more of traditional stainless steel. But when you get into this one it has buttons versus the smooth touch-pad, but otherwise, it really does still look like nice build quality. The wooden shelves, they slide in and out like this. This one fits 21. This one fits them really nice and easy. You don’t have to do any reorienting or anything like that. So I actually really really like this fridge for the price.
If I was going to have one … I mean, again, it’s just hard to tell, it just depends on your application. If I was going to build a new kitchen, I would buy the compressor-style fridge, and mount it into my actual kitchen permanently, whereas just living in an apartment, or something like that, I would definitely go for the thermoelectric style fridge.
That’s really all there is to selecting a wine fridge, but don’t just go to the Lowe’s or anything and just grab whatever you see, because you might not end up happy with it, depending on what you want. Make sure you get the right wine fridge for your application. If you have any questions about this stuff, feel free to post them in the comments.