Last year and this year have been the most testing times for us, as Covid hit the world. We can no longer enjoy the simple things, such as going out for a drink with our friends, going shopping, going for a coffee, or having dinner with our friends and family in the city. Everyone in the world has had to get accustomed to a new normal and learn how to live in this new world that has been created in just one year. Being in constant lockdowns, we have had to get used to balancing our work and home lives all from two different rooms in the house.

When you have a hard day at work, you can no longer head out and forget about it, as you are still in the same environment. When you had a tough day home-schooling and working at the same time, you cannot just call a babysitter to watch your kids while you go out for a few drinks. The way we relax now is simply by having a glass of our favourite wine and watching our favourite tv show, in front of the fire. It is no surprise that more and more people need a wine cooler in their house to store their wine.

Nobody wants to go out every few days or every week to buy more wine. It is more convenient to have a wine cooler, to be able to store, and collect, as much wine as you like. The options are endless on which wine cooler you could buy. The more important question is, how do you choose the best wine cooler to meet all your needs?

Tips to Choose the Best Wine Cooler On Budget

A wine cooler is a unit designed specifically to refrigerate wine at a certain temperature most suited to it. If you do not have a wine cellar to store your bottles, then a wine cooler is the best option, as you cannot use a normal fridge for this because it will not preserve your wine properly. A cooler is essential to keep it tasting its absolute best for a longer time.

Let us have a look at some points on how wine should be stored and recommended tips you must follow to help you pick the best wine cooler on budget. Keep in mind that the below is only for the more expensive and older wine. Cheap options under $40 are not suitable for a wine cooler, as it is specifically made to be consumed within the week.

1.Know your wine

There are five different categories of wine:

  • Red
  • Rose
  • White
  • Sweet (Dessert)
  • Sparkling

Each of these has different types of wine and like to be stored at different temperatures, as noted in the next section. Red wine alone includes Shiraz, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Carmenere, Lambrusco, Barbera, Grenache and many more. These all range from sweet to dry flavours.

White wine comprises of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and much more. These are mainly sweet or dry. Some rose wines would include Garnacha, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Tempranillo. These include sweet tastes such as cherry and watermelon. Dessert wines would include Sauternes, Port, Madeira, and Sherry. These are all sweet, hence the name “Dessert”. Sparkling wines are Vintage, Tulip, and Flute.

All these have specific temperatures suited to them, which we will look at next.

2.Temperature

Temperature is extremely important when it comes to storing your bottles. White wines are made to be consumed within about 2 to 3 years. The best temperature for the dry sort is 8 to 12 degrees Celsius, whereas the sweet flavour should be stored at 10 to 12 degrees Celsius. If not chilled properly, the wine will taste dull and lose some of its flavours.

For sweet red wine, the perfect temperature to store it at is 14 to 16 degrees Celsius. If you prefer dry red, it will need to be stored between 16 to 22 degrees Celsius. Rose should be stored roughly around 13 degrees Celsius. Sweet (dessert wine) is usually stored at around 12 to 13 degrees Celsius. Lastly, sparkling should be stored between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius.

Red bottles should be kept separate from the rest, as the temperature is much higher than the rest. This type can last for up to 10 years in your unit, but if not stored at the proper temperature, it will not last for that time, nor will it taste good. Wine can lose its flavour, as well as leakage caused due to cork shrinkage. Corks can expand also, all depending on the type of temperature the bottles are being kept at.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that bottles should always be laid horizontally so that the cork remains moist. Normal kitchen fridges are not suited for storage, not only for this reason but also because a kitchen fridge has a humidity of less than 10%. Wine needs to be kept in a space where the humidity is around 70%.

3.Space

Have you got an idea of where you want your unit to be put in your house? Is it going to be in the kitchen, living room, basement? To know this, you need to know the different types of units available. There are a few, such as:

  • Free-Standing
  • Built-In
  • Counter-Top Coolers

Free-Standing coolers can be placed anywhere in your house. It is similar to a fridge and can range in size. These free-standing units can hold anywhere from 12 to 18 bottles, and bigger ones can hold up to 100 bottles. As the name suggests, it stands alone. This could be the most convenient option for you if you have extra space in your home which needs filling and plan on storing a large number of bottles.

Built-In coolers can be “built into” your cabinetry. You must check where the vent is. If the vent is at the front, then you can build this cooler into your cabinetry, because it will be able to release heat forward through the vent. If the vent is located at the back or the side, it will need to be free-standing, so as not to cause overheating.

Counter-top coolers are for those that have enough space on their kitchen counter-tops. It will be quite small and easy to move around if needs be. This wine cooler is perfect for people who only need to store a few bottles and have extremely limited space.

4.Capacity

Deciding how much wine you are going to be storing is crucial as this will help you decide on the type of storage you need and see if the space you have chosen is suitable for your needs. You need to think about whether your goal is just to keep a few bottles for the year, for ease of access when you feel you would like a glass of wine, or whether you are going to be keeping bottles for over three years.

White wine can be stored for between two and three years. Red wine can be stored for up to ten years. Not only do you need to know how much wine you want to store, but also which type you will be storing. As mentioned earlier, temperature varies for each sort. Will you need one wine cooler for red wine and one for white wine? Will you need to get a bigger cooler that has two temperature zones?

For up to 12 bottles, the most ideal cooler would be the counter-top or free-standing, small storages. They are the most convenient and can take up minimal space. If you are serious about collecting and storing wine and feel that you will be adding bottles continuously then you should look at something bigger such as free-standing or built-in units. These coolers have a capacity of holding over up to or over 100 bottles.

5.Size

Now that you have figured out the space to place your wine cooler in, and the amount of wine you will be storing, you need to decide on a suitable size! Size is very important in this case, as you do not want a unit that is too big nor too small. If you get something too small, it will mean you are always restricted to a certain amount of bottle storage. There is nothing worse than buying a wine cooler, and then a few months later deciding that you do not have enough space and need to purchase something bigger. If you have space and want to build your wine collection, then a bigger container will be most suitable for you.

Measuring the space you have chosen is the best option. This will provide you with the accurate dimensions of the area and will help you narrow down a unit that will fit perfectly. With a small cooler, such as counter-top, all you need is to make sure that you have enough counter space to place it on. Another factor to keep in mind, shelving. Whatever size you are getting, make sure there are enough shelves to fit all your bottles.

6.Warranty

Warranty is something that needs to be looked at when purchasing also. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it is vital to look for a full warranty for a longer period just in case you run into any issues along the way. It can be expensive to fix these storage units, so the best option is to look for the greatest warranty you can find.

7.Lighting

To be able to view the contents of your wine cooler, it is best to have LED or soft lighting within it. Remember, wine does not like strong, harsh light as it can damage it. A light that gives off too much heat may, quite literally, cook the wine. This will cause the bottle to go bad, giving the drink a bad taste, and evaporating all the flavour out of it. A soft blue LED light seems to be the most common with wine coolers.

8.Single or Dual Temperature

Single temperature wine coolers are for those of you who only want to store one sort, for example, red. It is made specifically to set only one type of temperature and always maintain this. The downfall of this cooler is that if you ever change your mind and want to store more than just one type, you will have to go out and buy another unit for more storage.

A dual temperature wine cooler has two compartments, which means you can set two different temperatures if you are storing both red and white wine. It will preserve both types well, and you do not need to worry that one of them will lose its flavour or get damaged in the process. These coolers are more expensive than the single temperature ones, but long term they are more beneficial.

9.Security

Another tip in relation to picking the best option for you is security of the storage unit. You may have children and want to make sure that they do not get into your collection, leading to accidental smashing of bottles. Another reason you may want more security is due to a possible break-in. You can never be too careful. Some of these bottles may be very expensive, so it may be best to have the cooler locked.

Most storage units are quite sophisticated in the fact that they have a built-in lock and key features to give you a piece of mind that your treasures are safe and secure. One of the features is a simple lock and key. The other one is an actual built-in combination lock in which you will need to enter a pin to open.

10.What is your budget?

Do you have a budget set for how much you want to spend? This part is especially important, as wine coolers can range in price between €80 to €8,000. A cheaper unit may be more suited to your budget, but does it have all the required specifications? Your budget could be quite large but you may not have enough space.

All these go hand in hand. Once you have all the specifications noted, the space dimensions decided, and the budget worked out, it should be a simple enough process to work out which model is the best for you.

Conclusion

To summarise, wine coolers are a much better option than your normal kitchen fridge or a wine rack. There are endless options to choose from to meet your needs, but the most important questions to ask yourself are as follows:

  • How much will I be drinking?
  • Do I want to collect it and keep for the next 10 years?
  • Where will I put the unit?
  • How much space do I have?
  • How many bottles will I be buying in the next few years?
  • What type of wine will I be buying the most?
  • Do I need a cooler to hold two sorts of wine?
  • How much money am I willing to spend?

Once you have the answers to all these questions, you will have no issue deciding on what type of unit is going to be the one for you.