Wine lovers know that proper storage is essential to preserving the unique character of their wines. And since most oenophiles don’t live in French chateaus, there’s a good chance that they don’t have a proper wine cooler.
This explains the fast-growing market for wine refrigerators and the resulting surge in options for the consumer. While the huge selection means any wine drinker can find the perfect product for their needs, the search can seem overwhelming at times.
As wine cabinets have gone from niche item to household standard in recent years, the built-in models have become consumer favorites. This is understandable; they look great in most modern kitchens and integrate flawlessly into the room’s design.
However, not all wine drinkers have space in their kitchen for an undercounter or built-in wine fridge. In this case, freestanding wine coolers can be the perfect choice.
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Key things to consider:
One of the first questions to ask yourself before buying a wine cabinet is about your storage needs; how many bottles do you anticipate holding in your collection at any given time? More casual wine drinkers will need to keep space for their rotating weekly selection for immediate consumption, as well as their medium-term special occasion bottles. Serious collectors will need the space for these bottles, as well as their long-term needs for their more valuable investments.
Buyers looking for small freestanding countertop units should check out this section: small wine coolers.
It is important to keep in mind that a unit’s stated capacity is always for standard, narrow Bordeaux bottles. Adding in Burgundy or sparkling wine bottles will decrease the total capacity. Most wine collections will take some mixing and matching to fit as the total number of bottles approaches the stated limit.
More serious wine collectors should have a good idea of their storage needs, but casual drinkers, or those who are just discovering the depth and complexity of wine need to try and anticipate their future storage needs. As your passion for wine grows, inevitably, so does your collection. It is often said that wine novices should think about how many bottles they need to store at present, then double that number to take into account their needs in the years ahead.
Freestanding wine coolers stick out more than built-ins, so getting the perfect look is essential. Whether it’s for the dining room, home bar, or entertainment area, finding a model that complements the room’s design is crucial.
Several years ago, some freestanding cabinets were found with the outside finished in hardwoods, made to look more like a piece of furniture than an appliance. They would often feature a marble or granite top, and brass or pewter hardware. However, this style seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years and modern appliance-style models are pretty much the standard, outside of very high-end custom models.
For the most part, current choices in finish in freestanding fridges are stainless steel or black. Keep this in mind when planning where you are going to keep the unit, whether integrated in your kitchen, dining room, or tucked away in some other area of your home.
Kitchens already have background noise from the refrigerator, so a wine cooler that adds to this a bit is not so terrible. Dining rooms on the other hand, are generally silent rooms so this needs to be a bigger consideration when selecting a freestanding wine cooler.
Of course refrigeration is not possible without some noise, but it’s worthwhile to read what other buyers have said about the noise level. Having a quieter model will pay off in the long run for the peace and quiet of your home.
Before any big-ticket purchase, it’s always advisable to do your research on the manufacturer. Do they have a reputation for making quality products? How is their customer service when issues do arise? What sort of warranty do they offer, and how does it compare to their competitors? All of these are questions worth asking before making your investment.
The biggest consideration of all for most wine lovers will be price. Most people don’t have an unlimited budget and must make some necessary trade-offs to find the right wine cabinet for their needs. In your search, you’ll find coolers that get up to $5000 and even beyond. These are beautiful handcrafted pieces that are off limits to all but the wealthiest collectors.
But don’t worry, there are many options that are nearly as attractive, and much more economically priced. Limit your search to what you can comfortably afford. Think about your yearly wine consumption and how much you spend. Then think about what percentage of this amount you’re comfortable spending to protect your purchases and enhance your drinking enjoyment.
Remember, a good product will last for years and years to come, while your bottles are recurring purchases over the years. Your wine is an investment, and a particularly fragile one at that. It needs to be treated as such. You wouldn’t buy a luxury car without a garage to keep it in – give your wine the same consideration.