The Best Wine Storage for Larger Collections
Most people begin their wine collection with a few reds in the pantry and whites in the refrigerator. While these conditions aren’t optimal for aging, they’re fine for the short term storage of cheaper wines. As you fall more in love with wine you might graduate to a small wine cooler refrigerator to store more expensive bottles. These might be wines you want to age and enjoy a few years down the line. With this in mind, you’ll naturally accumulate wines more quickly than you can possibly store in a small or even medium-sized wine fridge. As your wine collection grows, how will you handle long-term storage: large wine fridge or wine cellar?
As Dr. Vinny at Wine Spectator explains, wine refrigerators and cellars may achieve the same thing in the shorter term, but only cellars are ideal for long term storage. The consensus among experts is that if you plan to drink the wines within five years, the wine fridge is suitable. Otherwise, you’ll want to invest in a cellar for aging them properly. While wine refrigerators hold constant temperature well, other factors like vibration, light, and humidity are generally not consistent enough.
Still, wine refrigerators are so convenient that many collectors go the hybrid route. Higher capacity wine refrigerators often have dual temperature zones so that you can safely store the reds at 55F and the whites closer to serving temperature. They also take up a lot less space and are less work to set up. Each option clearly has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to think about what will work best for your needs.
Large Wine Refrigerators
If you’re planning to buy a large wine refrigerator, look for a unit that keeps temperature consistent and has minimal vibration. It should obviously accommodate the number of bottles you need, but don’t forget to look closely at the racking. You should make sure it can handle the sizes and shapes of the bottles in your collection. Make sure the door opens in a good direction for the space you plan to keep the fridge. It’s also helpful if the door is tinted or otherwise treated to protect your bottles from light.
NewAir Premier Gold Series 116-Bottle Built-In Wine Cooler
This built-in wine refrigerator from NewAir is top of the line and we recommend it highly. It has strong shelves that pull out for easy access, each holding 11 bottles of wine. It’s also dual zone, with each section capable of holding temperatures from 40F to 66F. This is an excellent lower threshold for a large wine refrigerator. We also love that it has a separate control panel for each zone. No more accidentally changing the wrong zone’s temperature as often happens when there’s just one panel for both.
The door is triple-layered glass, which gives great insulation. The glass is clear instead of tinted, but one of the layers has UV protection. This protects your wine from light while still allowing you to see the bottles clearly. We also love that this refrigerator has front venting. This means you can use it as a freestanding unit or build it into a space with other cabinetry. Overall, this is an excellent wine refrigerator and a spectacular buy for $850.
Allavino FlexCount 172-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator
The Allavino FlexCount is another great wine refrigerator. It has twelve shelves that can hold 11 bottles each and two that can hold 20 for a total capacity of 172. This fridge is also dual zone, but unlike the NewAir, the zones have different ranges. The upper zone can be set from 44F to 55F and the lower can hold temperatures of 55F to 65F. Furthermore, the lower zone must be set at least 4 degrees warmer than the upper zone, which might be a limitation depending on your needs. Just like the NewAir, each zone has its own digital display for ease of programming.
Despite these limitations, we love the overall design of this refrigerator. The shelves are strong and the racking accommodates the most versatile collections. It has tinted glass doors and front venting, again allowing for use as a built-in or freestanding refrigerator. The company also boasts the energy efficiency, which may be another consideration for you. This unit is currently priced at $1650.
Even if you buy a wine refrigerator, it’s hard not to daydream of building a cellar some day. If you’re lucky enough to have a natural cellar, it maybe a fairly inexpensive process. A basement that is cool, dark, and not too damp is a great start. Otherwise, you can work with a contractor to begin the process of designing a cellar for yourself. A small, custom cellar might run you several thousands, but it’s worth considering as your storage needs grow. Your wine collection is an important investment.
Stackable Modular Wine Rack
Stackable, modular wine racks such as these are an inexpensive way to outfit a new wine cellar. For just $65, this kit allows you to store 72 bottles in six rows of 12. It’s made of unfinished natural pine, so it’s fairly rustic looking. Still, it gets high marks for being sturdy and economical.
VintageView 9 Bottle Wall Mounted Metal Hanging Wine Rack
Depending on the nature of your cellar, hanging your bottles may be more ideal than stacking them in traditional racks. In that case, these mounted metal hanging racks from Vintage View are a great choice. They’re available in satin black, brushed nickel, or chrome. While this unit hold only a single column of 9 bottles, there are variants that store more.
Sorbus 100-Bottle Wine Display
If you prefer metal racking with a more traditional display, these wine shelves from Sorbus are a great option. They’re easy to assemble and the kit includes all the hardware to construct a 10 by 10 wine rack. In addition, it has wall-mounting hardware to give it more stability.
Wine Racks America 82-Bottle Diamond Rack
We absolutely love the look of this 82-bottle diamond rack from Wine Racks America as an alternative to column stacking. It is available in a variety of stains and colors, making it an excellent addition to your kitchen or wine bar as well as your cellar. It requires some assembly and some customers report difficulty with this. Fortunately, the company is responsive to feedback and the rack comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Wine Racks America Wine Cellar Kit
Ready to go big? With this kit from Wine Racks America you can build racking to house 162 bottles of wine. Units from this company fit together seamlessly, so as you install this racking, you’ll begin to see your whole cellar take shape. We love this as a scalable solution that allows you to invest in the racking as your collection grows. We view this as a solid DIY version of the custom carpentry that often goes into creating a wine cellar.