Questions to Ask When Buying a Wine Cooler
Choosing the right wine refrigerator for your home can be overwhelming due to the many types, options and features available to you. Despite this, we have all the information you need to help pick out the best wine fridge for you and your family. Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to wine coolers.
What is the difference between a freestanding wine cooler and a built-in wine cooler?
A freestanding wine cooler is designed to stand alone while a built-in wine cooler (also called an under-counter wine cooler) is designed to be built into existing counters and cabinetry. For any appliance to be built into your cabinetry or counters, you must have proper ventilation to avoid overheating. Freestanding wine coolers have ventilation in the back of the appliance, so heat exits your device through the backside. Built-in wine coolers are beneficial in matching your home decor because of their front vent that channels heat away from your wine cooler. Then, to top it all off, the manufacturer will probably tell you that the warranty for the unit is void because it was not used properly or the way that was intended. (The wine fridge will almost definitely give out before the warranty is up. It might not last more than a couple of months.)
Another important difference between these two types of wine coolers is the dimensions of the wine cooler. Built-in models are built to the same depth as adjacent kitchen counters and other fixtures so that the wine cooler is flush with your cabinetry. Freestanding models may be at odd sizes, so they won’t fit perfectly under a counter top and are hard to customize to fit.
There are pros and cons with each type of wine cooler. The biggest pro for a freestanding unit is typically it is lower in price. A big pro for the built-in unit is it gives you more options for placement as it can be installed into your cabinetry or placed freestanding. No matter which you decide is right, you are guaranteed to find a wine cooler that is perfect for your home and social life.
Expert Tip: If you overheat your wine cooler and try to return it, most likely it will not be covered under your warranty due to misuse clauses*
What if you install a freestanding wine cooler under your counter?
Before we go into explanations, the quick answer is no you cannot. This question, by far, is the most common question asked by wine storage buyers. As stated above, is a wine cooler is placed in a space where there is not sufficient ventilation, the appliance will overheat and may ruin the appliance (or your wine, which may actually be much worse!)
What is thermoelectric cooling?
Thermoelectric coolers are environmentally safe, since they don’t have any hazardous materials fueling the cooling process. Many smaller wine coolers employ thermoelectric cooling instead of using a traditional compressor and refrigerant. A thermoelectric wine cooler contains a cooling node consisting of a ceramic tile that has electrical current passed through it. As the electrical current is passed through the cooling node the outside of the tile will heat up and the other side (the side facing into the cooler) will cool down. Typically, a thermoelectric wine cooler will contain small fans inside the unit which help to evenly distribute the cool temperatures being created by the node throughout the interior of the unit. this helps to keep even distribution of coolness flowing throughout your wine cooler.
What are the advantages of thermoelectric wine coolers vs. compressor-based coolers?
Due to the lack of a compressor, thermoelectric coolers will produce fewer vibrations which in turn will equal fewer disturbances of the sediments within the wine bottles. Please keep in mind that thermoelectric wine coolers are not completely silent as the internal fans needed to distribute the cold air within the cooler do produce some noise. However, they are usually quieter than compressor driven models. Thermoelectric coolers also consume less energy than compressor units, so they cost less to operate.
On the other hand, thermoelectric coolers are limited in that they can generally only produce temperatures about 20°F lower than the temperature outside the unit. Compressor-based cooling does not have the same limitation. Here are some
Not-so-fun facts about thermoelectric wine coolers:
- Thermoelectric wine coolers don’t get as cold as a compressor cooler. On average, most thermoelectric coolers won’t cool below 50°F, though you will find some (like our MIELE WINE COOLER MODEL) that can go as low as 44°F.
- They don’t work when it’s too hot. Unlike a refrigerator, a thermoelectric cooler doesn’t produce cold air. What it does is remove the heat from inside the cooler compartment. This means that when the temperature is too hot (over 80°F) it will have trouble removing enough heat to keep the temperature at the ideal wine storage level of 55°F.
- They don’t work when it’s too cold. There is no mechanism to add heat into wine cooler, so when the ambient temperature drops below 50°F, the temperature inside will drop as well, affecting the storage conditions of your wine.
Read More: How Thermoelectric Wine Coolers Work
What is the difference between a single and dual zone wine cooler?
Single zone wine coolers only have one temperature control, and shares the same storage space throughout the whole cooler. A dual zone wine cooler, as you can probably anticipate, has two temperature controlled spaces, which is mainly used for keeping white and red wines separately. Miele offers s a beautiful dual zone Miele wine cooler which is perfect for This brings us to our second most popular question:
What’s the best way to store red and white wines in the same cooler?
Most often you do not want to keep your white and your red wines together in a unit that is the same temperature. White wines like a cooler temperature of about 46°F to 56°F degrees, while white wines like it a tad warmer, resting best in 58°F to 68°F. The best way to accommodate both wines within the same unit is to purchase a dual zone wine cooler.
If you do choose to house both types of wine in one cooler, there is a trick that may help maintain a [slight] temperature difference without buying two wine coolers. Red wines can be placed on the top shelf of your wine cooler and the white wines on the bottom of the cooler. this will allow for at most a 5°F to 8°F difference, but sometimes that may be all that you need. Ultimately, your white wines will either be too warm or your red wines will be too cold.
Expert Tip: Storing your wine so that the temperature is more suited for red wine will make it so that you get the maximum flavor profiles from each type of vino in your collection*
What are the best conditions for aging wine in my cooler?
A wine cooler is set to a higher temperature range than a refrigerator or beverage cooler because wine should not be stored as cold as other beverages. On average a wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46°F degrees. Wine ages through a complex process of subtle chemical reactions that require specific conditions for developing the best flavor profiles (we’re talking tannins.) These conditions are a stable temperature around 55°F, a relative humidity around 70%, and protection from direct light (Miele wine coolers offer UV lights as to not harm your wine.) Even short exposures to temperature extremes can cause wine to age poorly as unwanted chemical reactions are created. For these reasons, a wine cooler or cellar is the ideal environment for aging wine.
Read More: See our Miele Wine Cooler selection
Can my wine cooler store other beverages?
The average wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46°F degrees. This means that a wine cooler will probably not suit your preferences for that ice cold beer or soda you were wanting. Due to this limitation we suggest a dedicated beverage cooler if you want to store more than wine.
How do I clean my wine cooler?
- Unplug your cooler. Remove all items from it (wine bottles, shelves, etc.)
- Clean the inside surfaces with a mild cleaner. We suggest you use either warm water alone, or a baking soda solution (try mixing 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of water.)
- Clean the wire shelves/trays (if you have them) with a mild detergent solution.
- Clean the wooden shelves/trays (if you have them) with a soft cloth and wood cleaner.
- Wash the outside of the cooler with a mild detergent solution.
- Dry any wet parts with a soft cloth.
Caution: Make sure to minimize the exposure of water to any electronic or control parts.