Wine Cooler Guide
- What are the most important criteria in choosing the right wine refrigerator?
- What are the correct temperatures for my wine?
- Can I store wine bottles and temper them ready to drink at the same time?
- Why is humidity important for wine?
- Heating function - What for?
- What is the difference between the various wine cabinet cooling systems available on the market?
- Energy efficiency
- Convenient use
For anyone who is interested in wine storage or wine refrigerators, pretty soon the question arises, for what it will be used primarily:
To store and age wine?
Or to temper to drinking temperature?
This question in fact determines the temperature at which the wines should be stored and which type of appliance is best suited to your individual needs.
Your answer might also be: Both, I want to store and also temper. This scenario will be discussed a little further down.
The short answer first: for wine aging - whether sparkling, white or red wine, it is stored at a fixed temperature, hence in a single-zone wine refrigerator.
In the case of wine tempering for timely enjoyment, on the other hand, different wines - e.g. white and red wines - are stored at different temperatures, i.e. logically in a 2-zone wine tempering cabinet.
2. What are the most important criteria in choosing the right wine refrigerator?
First, there is the question of individual needs. Using the following 7-point checklist, you can quickly get an idea of which model, size and features are likely to be the best fit.
1. what do you drink? Red? White? Sparkling wine?
2. do you want to age wine, temper it to drinking temperature, or both?
These two questions will determine whether a single-zone or multi-zone cabinet is more appropriate for you.
3. where should the wine refrigerator(s) be placed?
In the living room, kitchen or customer area for optimal wine presentation? In the reduit or cellar for storage? This will determine whether a wine refrigerator with aesthetic features such as all-round lighting, diagonal presentation shelves and fine woods is appropriate, or whether a more simply equipped wine refrigerator model will suffice, whether a stand-alone unit or a built-in kitchen version should be chosen.
4. How many bottles do you have or plan to store?
This will determine the size of the unit or the capacity of the wine refrigerator.
5. what bottle sizes do you have? (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Riesling, sparkling wine).
Very different formats in the wine portfolio require more space. Small appliances in particular are often limited in accommodating oversized bottles.
6. which handling do you prefer?
Stacking bottles (e.g. for longer storage)?
each bottle immediately accessible (clarity, convenience)?
Bottle presentation with diagonal presentation shelves?
This question leads to the appropriate choice of the most suitable wine refrigerator.
7. what is the planned budget?
On one hand, the budget determines the size of the appliance to be selected, but also whether a premium model with elaborate equipment comes into question, or whether an economical, simply equipped model is more suitable.
Once the customer's needs are clear, the question of the most suitable brand arises. It should be noted that the household appliance market, and thus also the wine refrigerator sector, is increasingly divided into two segments: a) the confusing, huge segment of the cheapest mass-produced goods, which are designed for a service life of 2-5 years b) the limited segment of premium products, in which both an appealing feel and look and a service life of 10+ years are achieved through careful selection of high-quality components and elaborate quality management during production. SWISSCAVE belongs to this small circle of suppliers and distinguishes itself in particular with interior fittings developed by wine connoisseurs as well as optimized temperature and humidity monitoring.
Further key considerations:
- temperature precision (requires an intelligent temperature and air flow management, and also inverter compressor technology)
- active humidity control: important for anyone aging wine (1 year and up)
- longevity (use of particular high quality components for all electrical, cooling and moving mechanical parts)
- bottle space per occupied volume (some full size wine coolers in real use only offer space for about 100 bottles while others can do 150 and more)
- bottle types and their fit onto the shelves (does the wine cooler have a well engineered shelving system which allows all sorts of bottles to find their space by still make optimal use of the available cabinet volume?
- noise (below 40dB)
- aesthetic considerations
- true protection from radiation exposure
3. What are the correct temperatures for my wine?
As a rule of thumb:
Anything that needs to be aged and ripened is stored in the 10-14° range. Setting temperatures for wines to be stored (and sparkling wine for that matter) would therefore be around 12°. This can be wonderfully realized with a single-zone wine refrigerator.
There is a lot of talk and writing about the right drinking temperature. However, what is shown time and again across the board is that in many places red wine is drunk too warm (room temperature). In this way, every undesirable nuance and 'flaw' in the wine is emphasized and highlighted. Do not make this mistake. White wines, on the other hand, are often drunk much too cold (keyword refrigerator temperature). Do not do it - you eliminate any fragrance and flavor details - a pity for the wine. It's better to drink water.
The ideal drinking temperature of red wines is in the range of 15-18°, depending on the alcohol content and ageing of the wine, in short: red wine is drunk slightly cool, not at room temperature. The drinking temperature of white wines is indeed much cooler, between 8 and 13 °. But not at household refrigerator temperature. At the right drinking temperature white wine can ideally develop its flavor. It must be taken into account that the wine, once in the glass, warms up further due to the room temperature and should therefore be kept slightly cooler ready to drink in the wine cooling cabinet. Tempering for drinking-ready enjoyment for red wines approx. 16°, for white wines approx. 8°C.
->> Drinking temperature tables (follows)
4. Can I store wine bottles and temper them ready to drink at the same time?
In fact, there are several forms of play that bring us close to the "age AND temper" desirable scenario - all in one wine refrigerator. Depending on how many white or red wines you have, choose the one that suits you best from the following variants.
1. Variant: more red wine, less white wine
Two-zone wine refrigerator: cool zone for aging, warm zone for tempering
Temperature setting 16°C
Comment: ideal for red wine tempering
Temperature setting 10°.
Comment: cool, but still in the ideal range for storing all wines, as well as white wines are tempered here ready to drink.
If, for example, a light white or sparkling wine should now be consumed a little cooler after all, we recommend keeping a bottle gel cooler (sleeve), which is available for example at SWISSCAVE for about 25€, in the freezer, and then put it over the bottle when needed. This is the fastest way to cool a wine bottle down by several degrees within a few minutes.
2. Variant: more white wine, less red wine.
A two-zone wine refrigerator is also used here, but this time the cool zone is for tempering, the warmer zone for aging
Temperature setting 14°C
Comment: this still puts us in the ideal storage temperature range for all wines, at the same time the red wine here is already a little closer to the drinking temperature of the desired 16° and is thus pre-tempered, so to speak.
Temperature setting 8°
Comment: ideal for white wine and sparkling wine tempering.
In this variant you take the red wine somewhat before (approx. 20 min.) from the cabinet and open it, so that it can still warm up around the missing 2-3 degrees. Positive side effect: almost all red wines win if you grant them some oxygen before drinking them. If you still need to go a little faster, pour the red wine, which is still a little cool, into large glasses or decant it into a carafe and wait about 10 minutes.
3. Variant: main focus on wine aging
Here, a single-zone cabinet is the right device. As we already know, all wines are aged at 10-14°. So I go closer to 10° when I take out white wine more often, which I then drink directly, or pull down a few more degrees with the gel cooler, as explained earlier. If I am more focused on red wine, I set the temperature closer to 14 °, and can thus take out the red wine and enjoy within acceptable time.
4. Variant: Separate units each for aging and tempering
Here you use more than one wine refrigerator: The storage cabinet, for example, in the cellar at 12°. A 2-zone temperature control cabinet in the living room or kitchen - and set it at 8° for white wine and 16° for red wine.
As you can see, there is more than one way. With any of these 4 options, all your wines will be at the perfect storage temperature and you won't have to worry about good wine aging, but you can still enjoy your favorite wine at the right drinking temperature at any time.
5. Why is humidity important for wine?
Ideal conditions for wine storageWe know it from the wine cellars and warehouses of many a wine producer: there lie barrels and bottles in damp to dripping wet vaults, cellars or even caves. The air in such environments often has a humidity of 80% or more - and a constant cool temperature. Ideal conditions, therefore, for wine. Especially for the cork cones of the wines, sufficient humidity is indispensable.
When the air becomes too dryIf the air surrounding the wine bottles is too dry for weeks or even months (less than about 50% relative humidity), the cork cones can dry out, causing oxygen to enter the bottle. Once this happens, the wine will go bad within a short time due to the resulting oxidation. At this point, it should be noted that wine bottles should be stored horizontally. The reason is that in this way the cork cone is kept wet on the inside by the wine and thus remains tight even during prolonged storage. Good quality cork cones tolerate a period of dry air better than corks of inferior quality. Unfortunately, the quality of the natural product cork tends to move south due to lack of raw material.
Active or passive humidification?Humidity is passively controlled in commercial wine refrigerators. The condensed water produced by cooling is used to achieve the desired humidity in the cabinet (50% or higher). This works more or less well under normal living room conditions (about 20°C and 50% humidity) and depending on the wine cabinet cooling system.
Wine storage in cool rooms:
However, if the room temperature, e.g. in the cellar, is 14 degrees or colder, the wine cooler will hardly cool, if at all. This also means that the desired additional moisture is no longer gained through condensation.
Wine storage in cold rooms:
If the room is even colder, the heating system integrated in the wine cooler comes into play. In this case, the situation gets worse because the heating process makes the interior drier.
Dry seasonal periods:
Or the air in the room simply becomes more and more dry during the cold season, which of course also pulls down the humidity in the wine cabinet.
Actively controlled humidification:
In all these cases, passive humidification by means of condensation is no longer sufficient or simply ineffective (if there is no cooling, no condensate is produced) and actively controlled humidification becomes indispensable. Experience has shown that passive humidification systems are not suitable for serious wine aging.
SWISSCAVE has therefore developed a unique, actively controlled humidification system, which brings the interior to the desired humidity.
An actively controlled air humidification system contains the following components:
1. electronically controlled humidification system
2. evaporator module
3. heating module
4. water tank
In the following three scenarios, active humidification should be used to ensure that the air surrounding the wine is raised to a sufficient humidity level (50% to 70%):
Critical scenarios of insufficient air humidification
Normal room temperature (approx 20° or higher), but dry air in the room (below approx 45%) for extended periods (months). This tends to apply more in the winter months.
Room temperature is only approx 12-16°, and room air moves below 50-55% rel. humidity for extended periods of time.
Room is cold for a longer period of time (below approx. 10-12°), so that the integrated heating is used.
An actively controlled humidification system allows the user to set the desired relative humidity to a value between 60 and 80%. The intelligent control system uses sensors to ensure that the interior is regularly supplied with additional moisture if the air is too dry. Distilled or distillate-like water is used for this purpose. When using active humidification, the value should be set to 60 - 65%. A setting that is too high can cause the labels to wrinkle or mold to form in the wine cabinet. The active humidification can remain switched off (do not refill water) in seasons with higher humidity - i.e. when the room humidity remains above approx. 55%.)
In summary, when the air becomes too dry for humans or for the respiratory tract, the cork cones also begin to dry out, endangering the wine.
The simple rule
Under normal living conditions (humidity > approx. 50%, room temperature 20° or higher), passive humidification in a cool wine climate control cabinet is usually sufficient.
6. Heating function - What for?
Most commercial products have, if at all, a low power heating in place, which can often only raise the temperature by 2-3 degrees. Most of the time, such a heater is used in dual-zone units primarily to achieve sufficient temperature spread between the two zones (an outdated, inefficient method).
SWISSCAVE uses more powerful heaters (also in 1-zone units), but they are only activated when you need to raise the chamber temperature in cold environments (e.g. cold basement, garage, etc.). The temperature can be raised by up to 10° with such a heater.
7. What is the difference between the various wine cabinet cooling systems available on the market?
Different systems are used for cooling white or red wine in two separate cooling zones.
Widely used on the market is still the method developed in the 1970s, in which the cold zone is located at the top, while fans in the intermediate floor bring cool air to the warmer, lower zone as required. The desired temperature values can be set in a reasonably stable manner with this system, provided that they are set not too far apart, and provided that the ambient temperature is around 20°C. However, this is at the expense of increased energy consumption, since heating energy is needed to achieve the usually desired temperature spread. And as soon as the ambient temperature deviates from the average value of 20°C, the indoor temperatures also shift and are thus often several degrees off the set value.
SWISSCAVE 2-zone systems differ substantially from this outdated method, which brings the following advantages:
- More energy-efficient, as no use of heating is necessary to reach the desired temperatures
- High temperature stability due to intelligent airflow management and use of frequency-controlled compressors
- Hardly any temperature differences within a cooling zone due to optimized air distribution
Two systems are used for this purpose:
- Two completely separate cooling zones, where each desired temperature range can be set independently
- The cold zone, as well as the recirculation, are located in the lower cooling zone and in the rear wall. Together with the use of frequency-controlled compressors, very precise and energy-efficient temperature control is achieved in both zones
The three main sources of noise in a wine climate control cabinet are
- Coolant noise
High-quality, quiet fans and a frequency-controlled inverter compressor, which adapts its speed to the current energy demand and thus operates at low power for a large part of the time, are indispensable for noise values below 40dB. Piping adapted to the flow of the coolant prevents unwanted noise and dripping. Other important elements are well-fitting, wide door seals and the use of sound-absorbing materials in the resonance range of all noise-causing components. The use of high-quality components ensures that the noise level remains same and does not become louder even after years of operation. At SWISSCAVE, the consistent adoption of all these measures and the use of first-class components result in dB values well below the industry average. (36-39dBA).
9. Energy efficiency
Energy consumption is increasingly important also for wine cabinets. The following factors can greatly limit power consumption:
- Seamless, continuous insulation
- Multiple glazed door
- Gas filling between the glasses
- Frequency controlled compressor
- Low energy fans
With consistent application of these means, energy consumption is continuously optimized.
Wine refrigerators also have to show their energy efficiency on a label created specifically for this purpose. Until recently, energy classes ranging from A+++ to D were used.
This was replaced by the EU regulatory authorities with a completely new scale, which must be used by all suppliers since spring 2021. The new scale ranges from A to G. Even the consumption values of the exact same device are different on the new energy label, because with the new regulation, the measurement criteria have also been adapted and thus become stricter. So a device that was previously reported with 120kWh, must now be shown with about 180kWh.
The new efficiency scale together with the changed measuring methods leads to the fact that a device reported before with A+++ now only reaches class D or E. Or what was previously class A, is is now an F or G with the new measurement methods and the new 2021 scale.
The wine refrigerator has long since emancipated itself from its banishment to the cellar and storage room and is now considered a welcome, important furnishing element in the living area of the discerning wine lover.
In wine refrigerators, there are great differences in the choice of materials, in the quality of finish and, last but not least, in how a device can be set in scene.
SWISSCAVE focuses on simple, puristic design. Special attention is paid to the choice of materials: Glass, chrome steel, wood - with a consistent absence of the usually omnipresent plastic trim and plastic handles.
The lighting is incorporated into the interior walls of the unit and sets a clear accent with bright illumination of all tab levels. The color of the lighting can be switched, and thus fits seamlessly into the interior of the room. Both the housing and the door are precisely finished and completely seamless. The internal hinges are concealed and do not protrude, the base of the device is on one level with the door front.
Everything visual is under the sign of puristic restraint. The show is left to the softly lit wine.
11. Convenient use
The new model range is equipped throughout with smooth-running full-extension pullouts. The pull-out shelves can be pulled out to such an extent that the bottles at the back can be accessed directly without having to lift the bottles at the front first. The presentation shelves available for this purpose can be used multifunctionally as standard: as flat pull-outs or as angled presentation shelves - simply by folding down the support bracket.
As soon as the glass door is opened, the light slowly comes on until it brightly illuminates the entire cabinet on every level. The light can also be left on permanently at the touch of a button. An alarm warns the user if the door is open for a longer period of time or if the door is not closed properly.