by Kristin Donnelly - Food and Wine Magazine
A basic wine refrigerator is fine for keeping bottles that you plan to drink within a year or two, but for long-term aging, collectors should consider purchasing more-elaborate units. What the investment gets you, among other things: better insulation, which helps maintain the 55 degree temperature and 50 to 70 percent humidity levels ideal for storing wine. (Humidity is just as important as temperature. Too low, and the corks dry out; too high, and mold will grow.) Here are some other variables to consider.
1. Bottle Count
The rule of thumb for deciding what size fridge to buy: Think about how much space you believe you need, then double it, since your collection is likely to grow. Also, most manufacturers use Bordeaux- size bottles to estimate how many bottles will fit in a particular unit; collections with wider bottles, such as those used for Burgundy and Champagne, will take up more space and lower the unit’s total bottle capacity.
The best units have an aluminum interior, which conducts cold and heat much better than the plastic used in less-expensive models. Also look for a textured, pebbled lining, which helps maintain ideal humidity in the unit.
Basic wine fridges tend to have fixed chrome-wire shelves; higher-end ones use sturdier wood racks or wood-framed wire grids. Look for shelves that roll out, a design that makes it easier to read labels and remove bottles. Test how a unit’s shelves glide to make sure you like the feel.
Glass doors allow you to peer in at the wine, but they don’t insulate as well as a solid door (like a regular refrigerator door), and they’re more expensive. If you like the look of glass, make sure it has a UV-protective finish, since exposure to sunlight can damage wine.
Compressors, which cool fridges, tend to vibrate slightly, especially when turning on and off. Shaking is detrimental to wine over time, so look for stabilizing solutions such as compressors mounted on rubber blocks and coated racks that grip the bottles. (Viking and Sub-Zero, for example, make units with both.)
6. Locks and Alarms
Many wine refrigerators have locks to protect a collection. Some also have alarms that sound if the door is left open.
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