There is nothing worse than having a great wine taste bad because it was stored or served at the wrong temperature. It would be great if we could all have our own wine cave or custom-built cellar to insure wine is kept at the optimum temperature. But if you’re not quite ready to make that kind of investment, there are a number of wine refrigerators and coolers on the market. We’ll take a look at three in this review.
We have used three different brands, and would like to share our thoughts on each of them.
The Cuisinart Private Reserve Wine Cellar
Our first wine chiller, I purchased the Cuisinart 6-bottle model as a gift for Joe. At the time we rarely had a lot of extra wine that we needed stores, so a six-bottle model was perfectly adequate to keep our whites chilled and ready for drinking.
Pros: The cost for this model was about $150 at the time. Cuisinart is a well-known company, so I had no qualms about buying from them because we have lots of Cuisinart appliances. The great thing about Cuisinart is their no-hassle warranty program. Their wine chillers are guaranteed for three years so when the first model stopped chilling, it was easy to get a replacement. The folks in the warranty department are friendly and courteous. We just had to pay a shipping charge. In fact they send out the new one, and provide a shipping label and carton for the old one. The temperature can be adjusted with 8 preset temperatures that can switch between Fahrenheit or Celsius.
Cons: The first unit we had stopped cooling after about 18 months. The second unit lasted about another year. While the second unit didn’t stop cooling, it had water pooling in the bottom which then ran out on the floor. Then there was the noise. The relatively quiet model turned into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde monster that would cycle through noisy to loud. With a brand like Cuisinart you expect a little better quality. They have now discontinued this model and now offer 8, 16 and 32 bottle chillers. I found the 8-bottle model on-line for $155 and the reviews listed are positive.
If you don’t mind the hassle of possibly having the replace the unit midway through the warranty, this isn’t a bad product for the money. The problem may have been limited to the 6-bottle unit, which is still available on-line from a number of vendors. I wouldn’t recommend the 6-bottle unit, but I wouldn’t have a problem buying from Cuisinart again.
Wine Enthusiast Silent 18-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator
When our second Cuisinart died around Thanksgiving last year, I hinted to my mother that a great Christmas present might be a new wine fridge. We found one on sale with free shipping for Christmas from Wine Enthusiast on-line. Currently the unit is selling for $249.99 with about $40 shipping cost.
Pros: The Wine Enthusiast 18-bottle model is truly silent. It has dual temperature zones, so you can keep your reds in one section and your whites in the other. The top zone can be set from 54 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (12-17°C) and the bottom zone can be set to
46-64°F (8-17°C) which is perfect for storing reds and most whites. I love the indentations in the door panel to provide extra room for longer bottles like those used for Riesling. At 25-1/2″H x 14″W x 19-3/4″D it doesn’t take up a lot of space in the room. The digital settings can be changed incrementally and the unit has an interior light.
Cons: While the Wine Enthusiast 18-bottle model does accommodate some longer bottles, it isn’t the best if you want to store larger bottles like those used for champagne or Pinot Noir. It is possible to put perhaps one or two of these bottles in with other narrower 750 ml bottles, as long as you don’t mind the possibility of a scratched up label. All the wire shelves are removable, so you can store the larger bottles with no harm to the labels. However, this may reduce the number of bottles you can store.
Overall, we’re really happy with this wine refrigerator and we would recommend this for anyone who needs a smaller capacity wine storage. You can see multiple views of this model here.
On-line Only Models
This summer we were contacted by an Internet retailer for commercial and residential heating and cooling products. They actually contacted us in two ways. One representative emailed through the website to ask if we would be interested in reviewing one of the wine coolers. She said referenced a recent post on our blog and got our names right. We looked at their website and the products they offered and agreed to receive the wine refrigerator.
The other guy represented himself as a “freelance writer” who thought we might want a guest article. Joe emailed him back and said we would take a look at the article.
My name is XXX and I’m a freelance content writer based in Orange County that has covered various lifestyle topics. I’m also in the process of teaching myself the basics of enjoying fine wines, and recently finished an article that I thought you would be interested in for Another Wine Blog — How to Taste Wine like a Pro, Even if You’re Not.
Since I had read and responded to the product review inquiry and Joe to the guest post, we didn’t immediately notice that his e-mail address was the same as the marketing lady. But being the suspicious lawyer, I decided to run his name through Google. It seems he writes a number of “guests posts” for blogs that all end with a plug for his company. Brilliant, but a bit sleazy. We had already agreed to accept the cooling unit and thought we’d give them the benefit of the doubt – that this was just one rogue employee. Even though both guy and woman contacted us on the same day. His “freelance article” was very basic and didn’t provide anything that we hadn’t already covered. So Joe declined his offer.
We’ve been using this wine refrigerator for over two months now; adequate time to consider it for review.
NewAir Twenty-One Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Pros: The AW-210ED NewAir Twenty-One Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler has two separate compartments both with adequate room to hold both long Riesling and Eiswein-style bottles as well as sparkling and Pinot Noir bottles without scratching the labels or having to lay them diagonally on the bottom. It’s a compact size measuring 32 1/4″ (Height) x 13 1/2″ (Width) x 20″ (Depth) and weighs just 45 pounds. It operates very quietly, is attractive and has separate controls for each compartment for blue light and temperature. The site lists the price at $285.99 on sale for $219.99. It’s been “on sale” since July and shipping is only $24.95 ground. Wooden racks are also available for an extra $39.95. Those did not come with the review model.
Cons: When we received the unit, I noted the box had been damaged a bit in shipping. Usually this is not a big deal because of all the packaging that comes between the product and the carton. When we opened the box we noted it was very flimsy and the packing was inadequate to protect the unit from damage. In fact, the cat could probably have eaten through the “cardboard” it was so thin. When we removed the unit we found it dented. A notice on the bottom of the box said that all materials and the box must be retained to return the product if damaged. But the box was beyond salvage.
The unit comes unassembled with picture instructions. To attach the handles, you must remove the rubber seal on the door and then replace it. It doesn’t take long to put together, but I would prefer it came assembled. For the first few days the unit would not stay at the temperature set. Although the digital readout goes to 44°F, it kept going back up to 54°F during the day. We decided to give it more time to adjust and try it out. After a few days it stays around 46°F during the day for the top compartment, and 54°F on the bottom.
When I let the representative know that the unit came damaged (because of the inadequate packaging) she offered to send me a label so I could return the unit in its original packaging for a replacement. Since the unit was sent to us for review, and we paid nothing for it, to me it’s not really worth the hassle of returning it since the damage seems to be only cosmetic.
Overall the unit now works well, and for the price is an excellent buy. The blue light is pretty cool. Remember to carefully open the box and SAVE it, in case you need to return it. You can purchase it directly from the folks at Air & Water, Inc. I also found it on-line at Amazon.com
Wine Refrigerator Temperature Controls
Location of the unit is important to make sure any wine refrigerator maintains the optimum storing and serving temperatures. Many of the discount retailers don’t provide this information on their operating instructions or their websites. If at all possible the unit should be closer to an inside north or south facing wall. East or west facing outside walls tend to heat up the room during the day. The room should also be kept at a moderate and consistent temperature.
Nothing should block the vents on the sides and back of the unit. We’d recommend making sure there is at least three inches of space around back and sides of the unit. This means freestanding models cannot be placed in built-in cabinetry, recessed or put underneath a counter. And when you first set it up or move it, make sure to allow the unit to cool to the proper temperatures for several hours before putting wine into it.
For more information on proper storing and serving temperatures, check out our previous posts: