A short guide to buying a wine cabinet that will truly meet your needs

7 May 2020

To better conserve their best bottles, amateurs and professionals alike are turning to tools that ensure the wine will age in the best way possible. Among these tools are wine coolers, wine cabinets and wine cellars. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but before you start shopping, you should ask yourself these three important questions:

How long do you want to conserve and/or age your bottles?

How many bottles do you plan on storing in general?

How much space is available in your home for your new wine cabinet?

Choose your wine cabinet based on how long you wish to conserve or age your wine

The first thing you should consider is how long you wish to store or age the wine. If what you are looking for is a bottle cooling space for serving white wine, getting a wine cooler can be a great solution. However, it is not recommended to keep bottles for more than one year in a cooler, as it only cools the wine. When it comes to storage for aging, whether that be short or long term, things can get a little more complicated!

When we say “cellar”, we are referring to a designated space for the conservation of wine. This space can be an appliance, a cellar such as the type we frequently refer to (a wine cabinet), or simply a space designed specifically for the aging of wine. Here at Vinum, when we talk about this aging space, we are referring to a wine cellar.  In this article, we will mostly cover mobile wine cabinets, which are appliances. Different quality wine cabinets are available on the Canadian market for different types of aging.

For short or medium-term aging

The mid-range cabinet will offer good aging for a short to medium period; for about 5 years. Their compressor will allow a stabilization of the humidity rate and a constant and desired temperature to best preserve the bottles. Often more affordable than high-end cabinets, these appliances can be practical for people who are beginning to immerse themselves in the world of wine or for those who are not looking for long-term aging.

For long-term aging

The high-end cabinet, for its part, is designed for long-term aging. The quality of the material and insulation combined with its high-quality cooling technology make these cabinets the closest thing possible to the environment of a real wine cellar.

5 main factors contribute to the proper aging of the bottle and high-end wine cabinets must meet this criterion.  

LIGHT is filtered by the models that have a full door or that have windows which are anti-UV treated. It is indeed the UV rays that have a negative influence on the conservation of the wine.

TEMPERATURE is stabilised between 10 °C and 14 °C, which is ideal for optimal conservation. Too much temperature range, rapid variations or extreme drops or spikes in temperature can hurt the wine. However, a slight fluctuation (a few degrees) with the change of seasons is normal and even desirable.

HYGROMETRY (or humidity) is not only stabilized in order to reduce variations, but will also be optimal between 55 and 80%. This corresponds to the ideal humidity level. It is because of its intimate link with the cork that hygrometry is of the utmost importance, as the cork stopper is both a tight barrier for the liquid and a tool for letting the wine breathe in interaction with its environment. Indeed, if the environment is too dry, the cork may get damaged which can lead to a rapid deterioration of the wine.

VIBRATIONS due to the movement of the compressor will be less noticeable with good quality compressors. These slower and more balanced compressors, often detached from the chest of the cabinet, allow residual vibrations to be reduced to a minimum.

THE POSITION OF THE BOTTLE must be horizontal, which is generally the case in all cabinets, as we want to lock in the moisture of the cork to ensure that it is watertight.

High-end wine cabinets are therefore the ultimate and ideal solution for longer-term bottle conservation. Of course, they are also more expensive due to their intricate technology…

Choose your wine cabinet based on the quantity of bottles you wish to store

Once you know which type of wine cabinet is best suited for your needs, all you have to do is think about the number of bottles you would like to keep in your cabinet, whether it be for short-term or long-term storage.

Wine cabinets, both for short-term or long-term storage, are offered in a wide variety of sizes and styles which can correspond to your tastes. They can be finished in wood or stainless steel, in a variety of colours and with glass doors, either paneled or solid. Their capacity ranges from 16 -18 bottles to 250 bottles. They are sometimes offered with two zones (one of them which is colder for serving whites) and very rarely with three (for serving whites, reds, and one for long-term conservation).

In general, if you are planning on storing for than 200 bottles, you should probably consider setting up a wine cellar directly in your home. This option is more interesting in terms of the amount to be invested and allows a better preservation of the wine.

Choose your wine cabinet based on the available space for it in your home

When buying a wine cabinet, especially if it is a large one, you must always check if you have the available space in your home and make sure that the dimensions match. You should also consider the style of the wine cabinet: some are built to be built-in and others are not. Whether you have purchased a medium or high-end wine cabinet, you must always check this information.

In general, long-term storage cabinets are more often offered in a non-recessed (which isn’t built into the wall) format, so they require a certain amount of clearance space on each side of the cabinet for optimal operation of the compressor.

Do you have questions about buying a wine cabinet? Be well served and advised by the Vinum team

The Vinum team will always be on hand to answer your questions about wine cabinets, but we hope this post will guide you in your next steps!

Enjoy your wine. Cheers!