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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Why a wine fridge?

If you have a special bottle of wine you’re saving, or you regularly buy wine, you may want to think about how you store it. Storing wine in the back of the cupboard may not protect it as well as a wine fridge.

A wine fridge differs from a normal fridge in that its aim is to keep the temperature as stable as possible. The optimum temperature for storing wine is around 14°C, but between 12°C and 16°C is fine. The more stable the temperature a wine is exposed to, the better it will taste and last.

The two Liebherr models topped our test and we recommend them. The Liebherr WKb 1712 has very good temperature uniformity (the best in our test), and it has a door lock for security. If sound is a concern for you, consider the Liebherr WKEes 553, it’s the quietest model in our test. The two Liebherr models were the only wine fridges in our test to come with a door alarm, but are only available with left-opening or right-opening doors, which must be specified at the time of purchase.

The Vintec V110SGeS3 and Vintec V30SGeS3 are worth considering. The V110SGeS3 stores up to 121 bottles and has 10 shelves for easy and safe storage. The V30SGeS3 temperatures vary throughout the fridge more than most other models. The Vintec models come with door locks so you know your wine is secure and also have reversible doors.

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.

Wine storing tips

The ideal storage temperatures for wine (those found in a cellar) are generally around 12°C –16°C. Wine should ideally be stored in the dark, with a humidity level around 70% (so the cork doesn’t dry out). Temperatures should never become so hot as to spoil the wine or reduce its quality as it matures, and it’s always better to go too cold (but not freezing) than too hot.

If your house gets hotter than about 25°C and you’re keen to cultivate a collection of fine wine, a wine fridge is certainly an option.

What about a bar fridge?

A bar fridge isn’t a good alternative for wine storage. They’re usually too cold and you can’t adjust them to be warmer. They tend to have very large temperature fluctuations and they don’t control humidity like some wine fridges.

They also don’t have purpose-built shelves to protect the bottles, or other safety features such as a door lock or door alarm.

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