When customers come into our showroom looking for better ways to store their wine, many of them ask us what the difference is between a wine cellar and a wine refrigerator, and which we think they need. While at first glance they may seem very similar, each has unique features that make them better suited for a specific type of wine storage. We know firsthand that the decision between them can be overwhelming, so we’re sharing with you the questions we ask to help make the process a little easier.
What kind of wine are you buying?
The first step in deciding whether to purchase a wine refrigerator or a wine cellar is to take a look at the type of wines that you have been buying.
Are you mostly purchasing inexpensive wines under $20? If so, these wines are probably part of the over 80% of wine that is intended to be drunk soon after buying. Wine refrigerators are the perfect way to ensure that these young wines are stored in the ideal conditions to protect their flavors until it is time to pop the cork. However, if you’re the kind of wine buyer that researches and invests in more expensive wines that you know will age well, you may want to consider buying a wine cellar. Unlike wine refrigerators that only allow you to control storage temperatures, wine cellars also allow you to control the storage humidity, preventing the corks from drying out and oxygen from reaching your wine and spoiling it.
Are you mostly purchasing red or white wines? Generally, white wines are not designed for prolonged aging and will benefit most from being stored short term in a wine refrigerator. For some red wines, however, storing them for over 5 years in a controlled wine cellar environment will allow them to take on new flavors and aromas that will enhance the drinking experience once they have finally been opened.
Will your collection be expanding?
Are you the kind of wine buyer that buys a few bottles at a time for special occasions, or do you enjoy buying by the case from exceptional wineries? While wine refrigerators come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate the current size of your wine collection, if you are expecting your collection to expand rapidly in the future and do not plan on opening many of the bottles for years, a wine cellar for long term storage may be a better idea.
We always recommend purchasing a wine storage unit for the collection size that you expect to have in the future, not necessarily the collection size that you have right now.
Where will you be storing your wine?
Where you plan on placing your new wine storage unit can be a major factor in what type you purchase. Wine refrigerators offer countertop, built-in undercounter, and outdoor options for wine lovers that do not have room in their homes for a large freestanding unit. Wine cellars, on the other hand, are almost always large and bulky appliances that require their own dedicated spot.
You will also need to consider the way in which the unit will vent. If there will not be enough room on the back or sides for a unit to vent, a wine cellar will not be the best option. In this case, you will want to purchase a wine refrigerator that is specially designed to vent from the front. There are some front-venting wine cellars on the market, but they are not very common.
What is your decor?
After answering these questions, are you still unsure about which wine storage solution will work best for you? Another factor to consider is how the unit will fit in with your existing decor. While both wine refrigerators and wine cellars come in many different styles, wine refrigerators generally feature a more sleek and modern design while many wine cellar brands boast furniture-style designs that will compliment vintage and old world inspired decors.
Looking for a more permanent wine storage solution?
If neither of these options sounds quite right for you, another wine storage option is a custom wine room. It might sound like a fancy feature found only in mansions, but it is easier than you think to create your very own wine room in a closet, walk-in pantry, or basement. You will need a well-insulated room that receives no direct sunlight, as well as an adjacent room large enough to act as an exhaust room for your wine cooling unit. Then, you can select the perfect wine cooling unit, racking solution, and LED lighting for your dream wine room. While this option does require a much larger investment, it offers the ultimate in wine storage customization!