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Hmm, Refrigerator or Cellar?

Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 3:02:31 PM
by Carol K., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Each year more and more people are enjoying and collecting wine. It’s no wonder, there’s so much delicious wine available and so much to learn from tasting. It’s easy for any collector to end up with more bottles than expected. Like many ambitious wine lovers, have you found yourself thinking, “How am I going to store all this wine?”

As you may know, wine should be stored in a still environment, away from direct light, in a constant temperature between 53-57°F and a moisture level between 55-70%. As you may also know, the best storage solutions are state-of-the-art wine refrigerators and wine cellars, and if you’re serious about collecting, full-fledged custom designed wine cellars. But what’s the difference between these options, and which one is right for you? Let’s start with wine refrigerators.

Wine Enthusiast Silent 28 Bottle Wine Refrigerator (Graphite Trim Glass Door)Wine Refrigerators
If you plan on drinking your wine within the next 12 months and don’t foresee building a collection or aging younger wines, you probably want a wine refrigerator. They’re designed for short-term storage and are usually more compact than wine cellars, built to store anywhere from 6 to 48 bottles. An important factor when considering a wine cellar is its intended location in your home. Do you want it on a countertop, the floor, recessed into your cabinetry? Read Can I Vent for a Moment? to learn which model will suit your needs best.

EuroCave Comfort 260 Digital Wine Cellar (1-Temp) (Black - Glass Door)Refrigerated Wine Cellars
If you plan to store your wine longer than 12 months and want to grow your collection, a refrigerated wine cellar is a smart choice. They’re specially engineered for long-term storage and are often larger and more furniture-styled than wine refrigerators. If you’re looking for the latest in technology, the French-made EuroCave® wine cellar, designed to replicate the conditions of an actual wine cave, is the ultimate choice. If you desire something more stylish to incorporate into your home décor, a Portfolio wine cellar is the way to go. Models such as the TriBeCa and Rutherford credenzas are exquisite fine furniture pieces, as well as cutting-edge wine cellars.

Custom Designed Wine CellarsCustom Designed Wine Cellars
As I said earlier, if you’re serious about collecting wine, you want to make a phone call: 800.377.3330. Ask to speak to a Wine Enthusiast Wine Cellar Specialist about a custom designed wine cellar. This isn’t a self-contained refrigerated unit. This is a room—any room, anywhere—transformed with wine racks, cellar art and accessories, and a cooling system. This is a dream come true for anyone with 10 bottles, 100 bottles, 1,000 bottles. . . . The only limit is your imagination.

What type of wine cellar or refrigerator do you have? Tell us about it! Leave a comment to help others decide what they should get.

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10 Responses to “Hmm, Refrigerator or Cellar?”

  1. Wine refrigerators and wine cellars can be had by anyone who cares for the benefits of wine. You need not buy an expensive wine refrigerator, and certainly do not need an expensively designed cellar to hold your prized vintage. A wine cellar can easily be constructed in a small corner of your basement or closet as long as it is adequately insulated and can maintain a reasonable humidity and temperature level of 50% to 70% and temperature of 60 degrees to 53 degrees the year round. Often, a basement room, insulated and below ground level, is very adequate for this with at least two walls on the exterior and in contact with the earth. You must insulate the other walls and have a good insulated exterior door to keep the room sealed. The best design can be large enough to store over 500 bottles of your favorite vintage! However, You may still need a small refrigeration or air-conditioning unit to keep the temperature and, especially the humidity, under control, depending upon your local climate. All of this, with a small 10 to 30 bottle kitchen wine refrigerator to stock the ready to drink vino, should be relatively inexpensive, and actually cost less than a custom wine cooler.

  2. 2 mike mavromatis said:

    I have a 52 bottle vinotemp. How can I raise the humidity in the unit? I try tokeep the temp. @55 but the humidity sometimes go to 49 or 50…thanks

  3. There is no sure fire way to add humidity due to the way a refrigerator cools. However, some techniques people use include placing a wet sponge inside the unit, or even a wet towel. Some people use a reservoir, or pan of water, in the cabinet with some success as well. The goal is to have the humidity maintain between 50-75%.

    Wine refrigerators do have a tendency to dry the air out whereas a wine cellar will maintain proper humidity. This is one of the reasons if you are storing your wine for longer periods of time (over 1 year or so), it generally is worthwhile to invest in a wine cellar, such as a EuroCave.

    Good luck

  4. 4 Todd LaChance (Wine Enthusiast wine storage consultant) said:

    Dick is correct in that you can make yourself a relatively inexpensive wine room in your extra space.
    It is important to not only insulate the walls, ceiling and floor, but we also recommend a vapor barrier be installed as well. For the insulation you want to use rigid foam, not fiberglass or cellulose. The vapor barrier should be 6 mil. plastic that comes in rolls. Having a vapor barrier helps to keep your humidity levels consistent and reduces the risk of condensation occurring in the walls. If you are going to use sheet rock for the walls in the cellar, we recommend you use the moisture resistant “green board” that also is used in bathrooms.
    The ultimate goal is to keep the temperature and humidity as consistent as possible 365 days of the year. Unfortunately, in most areas, you will still have swings in temp & humidity throughout the year even if the room is subterranean.
    The long & short is that if you are serious about collecting and aging wines, you are going to want to install some sort of cooling/ humidification system.
    If you have any additional questions about any of this, we’d be happy to hear from you!

  5. 5 Lezlie Moore said:

    I just got a hand nedown Vinotemp its about a year old not sure what the temp should be. Keeping white and champagne in it.Help

  6. 6 Tony Franey said:

    I need a wine refrigerator (100 bottle) for my garage. I am going to insulate the walls and ceiling but the floor will be cement. Temperatures near San Francisco range from 35 degrees in the winter to 100 degree in the summer. I do not know what temperature my garage is in the summer but I hear that a wine frig can only cool by 20 degrees in the summer. So, if the garage is 85 degrees, then the frig can only cool to 65 degrees. I do not age wines generally, but with a 100+ wine frig, I will be able to keep them for a while. I already have a 50 bottle wine frig in the kitchen.

    What insulation do I need? What refirgerator should I purchase? Any other ideas that I need to consider?

    Thanks, Tony

  7. 7 flore baudouin said:

    My question joins Tony Franey’s one, dated july 6th, 2009. I have a wine refrigerator in the garage. summer time gets too hot up here and i wonder what could be done in addition to have the garage/roof/door insulated? could the wine refrigerator get a insulated cover and a fan running by the fridge?
    I need help and would appreciate greatly your comments.

  8. That’s a tough one Flore. I am not sure I would use anything to try and cover or insulate the wine refrigerator. Different units have different ambient surrounding temperatures that they are able to handle. So if your unit is having that much trouble in warmer temperatures it may not be made for that application. Cooling down the garage itself is probably the safest and most effective solution. If you have other specific questions you can contact a Wine Storage Consultant at 800-377-3330.


  9. 9 flore baudouin said:

    thank you for your response and comments 01/21/11

    flore b

  10. I am looking for solution to put in a garage to hold 300 plus bottles, what do you think will hold up to a variation of ambient temp in the range of 55-95 F.?

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