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Wine fridges

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Keep your wine cool this summer.

On summer evenings there are few things better than sitting back and sipping a chilled glass of wine. We tested 8 wine fridges and measured how well they keep your wine chilled.

From our test

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What to consider

When buying a wine fridge, there are a number of factors to consider.

  • Location: If the wine fridge is close to a living area, noise will be a key consideration. If it’s in your kitchen, you’ll want to install it away from extreme temperatures such as the oven. If possible, install it in an area that isn’t subject to natural temperature swings. Just like when installing a fridge, make sure there is plenty of room around all sides and the top to enable good air circulation.
  • Doors: All the wine fridges in our test have glass doors, so you can look into your wine fridge and see what you want before opening the door and letting the temperature change. Some wine fridges do have solid doors, which may help with insulation and reduce the amount of UV light your wine is exposed to or you can consider a UV coating for the glass door. Some models also have a door alarm that alerts you when the door is open.
  • Bottle capacity: If you buy wine in bulk, plan for a larger model. If you need an under-bench model, consider the space you'll need. If you go through a lot of champagne or larger-than-average bottles, you will want to check the wine fridge can accommodate these.
  • Shelf construction: Some wine fridges have metal shelving, which makes it more difficult to pull your wines out and can possibly scratch bottles or labels. All the wine fridges in our test have wooden shelving and some had good sliding mechanisms, so are easier to use. However wooden shelves are thicker than metal shelving, which means less storage space.
  • Stacking type: Some wine fridges provide bulk storage of wine bottles where they stack on top of each other. This means you can fit more in, but it also means the bottles are lying on top of each other and are harder to get to – and there is potential for breakage or scratching the label. Individual or single shelf storage means each bottle has its own space on the shelf, which reduces wine storage space but may keep the bottle safer.
  • Locks: Some wine fridges have a lock to protect your wines from theft.
  • Low vibration: Like fridges, all the tested compressor-type wine cabinets vibrate, particularly when the compressor runs. Whether vibration “agitates” and affects the quality of wine can be contentious.
  • Multi-zone: If you’re keeping different types of wine at different temperatures, you might want to consider buying a wine fridge that has multi-zone - the capacity to have different temperatures in different areas of the fridge.
  • Humidity control: Some wine fridges have a purported humidity control, which gives the fridge humidity sensor the capacity to evaporate water from a small container and keep the humidity at a certain level (70 percent is generally considered good relative humidity). This is not particularly relevant for screw tops, but can be for wines with the traditional cork to prevent the cork from getting too dry.

Other storage options

If you have decided a wine fridge isn’t for you, here are some tips on how best to store your wine.

  • Store it out of the sun and away from sources of direct heat and cold.
  • Avoid storing wine in a garage. They’re usually poorly insulated and can become very hot during summer.
  • Store it in a well-protected area, not in a draughty or well-ventilated space that’s likely to get hot or cold breezes frequently.
  • An area near the centre of a home is best, away from hot external walls, heaters, ovens, etc…, and preferably low down to get the coolest air.
  • Putting wine in well-sealed foam boxes or similar can insulate it from changes in air temperature.
  • Use a thermometer to check the temperatures where your wine is stored.
  • Find a place that’s likely to get the least variation in temperature, both throughout the day and the seasons. Fast temperature change inside the bottles is worse for the wine than slow temperature change.

If you simply don’t have room or don’t want to take up the space – or, heaven forbid, you have too much wine to store in your home – there are alternatives such as off-site storage.

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