Wine fridges can be a substantial investment for many homeowners. Wine fridge prices range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size. This leads many people to wonder why a simple wine fridge is so expensive, and if wine fridges are really necessary for storing wine.
Good wine fridges are expensive because of the specialized temperature control technology, perfectly designed racks, UV blocking glass, and humidity control units that are included in their design. Many wine fridges are custom-built to fit into a cabinet space, raising the price higher.
There are several factors that go into creating the seemingly high price of a wine fridge. While the box size of a wine fridge may be similar to a mini-fridge, they are not the same type of product. Read on to learn more about what makes the wine fridge different, more expensive, and completely necessary for storing wine.
Wine Coolers Keep the Temperature Perfect
Wine enthusiasts know that wines can not take cavalier treatment when it comes to temperature. Hot and cold temperature fluctuations ruin the quality of the wine. Wine that is kept too hot will cook, completely ruining the flavor and quality of the wine. Wine that is kept too cold will fall prey to ice particles. This causes the wine volume to expand and will ultimately push out the cork causing a leak or total cork failure.
- Wine coolers have thermostats that keep wine at the perfect temperature. These coolers have a temperature range from 41 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows for long-term storage of wines at about 55 degrees, as well as optimized serving temperatures for various wines.
- Wine coolers often have a special chilling zone for wines that need to be rapidly chilled for near-term enjoyment.
- Some wine coolers have two divided zones. These zones allow red wines to be stored on one side at their ideal storage or serving temperature, and white wines to be stored in the other size at a different ideal storage or serving temperature. This flexibility is highly sought after by many wine enthusiasts.
A refrigerator can not double as a wine cooler because the temperature is not as steady, even in a dedicated mini-fridge. The family refrigerator is a terrible place to store any wines because the temperature is much too cold and it fluctuates rapidly with frequent use.
Also, the racks in a wine fridge are designed to maximize the number of bottles that can fit in the fridge. They are also laid on their sides which keeps the corks moisturized. The same can not be said for a typical refrigerator.
Wine Coolers Limit Wine Bottle Vibration
Dedicated wine refrigerators help to keep wine bottle vibration to a minimum. When wine bottles are subject to bumps and vibrations, there are chemical reactions that occur within the wine that cause degradation. Ideally, wine should be kept very still to keep the flavor integrity.
There are two types of wine coolers: thermoelectric and compressor. Both types of wine coolers can do a good job of keeping wine fresh, depending on the environment that they are used in and the number of bottles that will be stored inside the unit.
- Thermoelectric units use a simple heat-exchange system to evacuate heat from inside the cooler to the outside. This involves an air circulation fan that moves air around a metal heat exchanger which lets the heat escape to the outside air.
- Thermoelectric units can only keep wine about 20 degrees cooler than the ambient air, so they are not suitable for use in hot conditions or for chilling wine to serve.
- Compressor units use refrigerants similar to an air conditioner or refrigerator. The compressor circulates the refrigerant liquid which is pressurized through a series of metal coils. It picks up heat as it travels through the compressor coils which exchanges that heat into the ambient air.
- The compressor unit cycles on and off to keep the temperature inside the refrigerator constant. This is ideal for both short-term and long-term storage of all wines.
Both types of wine coolers have fans that will kick on and off, potentially causing a little bit of bottle vibration, but this is very minimal. Refrigeration units have the additional vibration of the compressor, but again it is minimal.
In comparison, the family refrigerator gets used frequently. Wine bottles stored in the family fridge get moved, bumped, and jostled as doors are opened and slammed closed. This is very bad for maintaining wine composition. A dedicated wine refrigerator will gently keep wines at the right temperature.
Wine Coolers Control UV Light and Humidity
UV light is detrimental to wine. While most wine coolers include clear glass doors that allow owners to view the contents without opening the door, these glass doors are made with a special coating that blocks UV rays.
- Glass wine bottles are coated with special UV-blocking colors, or made from dark glass that blocks UV light.
- Wine cooler doors are covered with UV-blocking coatings.
- Wine cooler units include special LED lighting that illuminates the space without introducing UV rays into the wine cooler.
The same can not be said for a mini-refrigerator or the household refrigerator. When the big doors are opened, UV light floods into the space. Depending on the type of bulb used to illuminate the refrigerator, this may also be a source of UV lighting. Wine coolers allow owners to view contents without opening the door, which helps to protect the contents inside the wine cooler.
Many wine coolers also contain humidity controls. Humidity is important for keeping the corks from drying out. A dried cork will leak wine. This is why bottles are stored on their sides. Ideally, the humidity inside of a wine cooler should be around 50 percent to keep corks intact. Those in arid climates should choose coolers with built-in humidity controls.
Wine Coolers Can Be Built In
Wine coolers can be custom-built to fit inside a cabinet space for easy access and kitchen design harmony. This greatly increases the cost of a wine cooler, but it makes it a seamlessly attractive part of the kitchen appliance package.
- Built-in wine coolers cost the most because they must be purchased as part of an appliance and cabinet package, or purchased as a special order to fit inside a cabinet space.
- Stand-alone wine coolers are cheaper and can be purchased at many stores, even membership wholesale outlets.
- Portable wine coolers are the cheapest of all, but they may only store a couple of bottles. They are usually thermoelectric coolers that can be used for short-term wine cooling.
Wine coolers that are built into a cabinet or bar will cost a lot more than other types of wine coolers. Those who do not need a built-in unit can save money by shopping deals at warehouse stores.
Are Wine Fridges Worth It?
If you have been shopping for wine fridges only to receive sticker shock, you probably want to know if wine fridges are really worth it. The answer is quite simple. Yes, wine fridges are absolutely worth it. Furthermore, they are absolutely necessary to keep wine tasting its best.
- Wine fridges keep the wine at the perfect temperature. Mini fridges and home refrigerators are much too cold and inconsistent to keep wine from degrading.
- Wine fridges are much less expensive than purchasing another fridge, especially for those who are storing only a few bottles at a time.
- Wine fridges can cost about the same as a high-end refrigerator for those who need to store dozens of bottles at once. This type of huge wine cooler costs so much that the person in the market for a large cooler is probably not so worried about the cost of the cooler.
- In comparison to the cost of installing a wine cellar, a wine refrigerator is downright thrifty.
- In comparison to the waste of wine that is not stored right and loses the intended flavor, the purchase of a wine cooler makes sense and pays for itself.
A wine fridge is not just worth it, it is necessary for those who care about keeping their wine the right way. There is not a substitute for a good wine fridge in terms of capacity, temperature control, and humidity control.
Wine coolers seem more expensive at a casual glance, but there are very good reasons for the increased price over a small appliance such as a mini-fridge. Further, the cost of a wine cooler is overall a much less expensive way to store wine than the cost of installing a wine cellar.