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Wine Storage 101 - (red refrigeration question)

The Oracle Feb 19, 2007 09:17 AM

Having recently purchased a couple dozen bottles on recent wine tasting trips... and living in Southern California (where indoor, summertime temps can be in the 90's for weeks on end)... I'm looking into purchasing a wine refrigerator to keep my beloved reds intact.

My question is -- once a red goes into the wine cooler -- how long can you keep it there? is it equivalent (or better?) to regular wine cellar storage? and when you are ready to use said bottle - how long do you find yourself leaving it out until it's drinkable temp?

TIA!

  1. z
    zin1953 Feb 19, 2007 10:39 AM

    It depends upon the type of refrigerator you use . . .

    Getting a true wine refrigerator keeps your wines between 50-55 (or so, depending upon how you set it), and you can leave it there for a long time. The temperature isn't the problem. It's the vibration, and you want to be sure to get one that doesn't shake the wine -- that will quickly kill your wine.

    You can take it out for 15 min. or so between drinking.

    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953
      The Oracle Feb 19, 2007 01:35 PM

      Aside from off-site wine storage -- what brands have you found to be the best in terms of low vibration (didn't even THINK of this issue - thank you!). I've read recent posts, etc -- just curious as to your opinion.

      1. re: The Oracle
        z
        zin1953 Feb 19, 2007 04:24 PM

        To be perfectly candid, I haven't a clue . . . I have two totally passive cellars -- both underground -- for wine storage, and have used nothing but passive cellars since 1976. Of the two I have now, one has never risen above 60F -- a bit warm, but since it's generally between 50-55 and doesn't change rapidly, it's perfectly acceptable for me. The other, dirt floor, thick cement walls, is the cellar of our house, and it generally sits around 55-60, rising up to about 65 in the warmest of Indian summers. It holds more wine in the winter, less in the summer. Haven't ever had a problem with either one.

        Most peole I know have either a Vinotemp or a Eurocave. I think the former is the winner, but who knows? It may just be "I like this one because I own it." It also depends on how "serious" you are (meaning how much money do you want to spend. For example, Electrolux has one that works without a compressor, so it's absolutely vibration free! (It works on "absorption cooling" -- don't ask. You can find more at http://www.electroluxusa.com/ )

        1. re: The Oracle
          r
          RicRios Feb 19, 2007 05:33 PM

          A refrigeration unit consists basically of two components: the storage case and the compressor. The storage case is passive, what vibrates is the compressor. Most home refrigerators have both parts built as a single unit. However, a refrigeration technician can easily pull them apart and install the compressor at a distance from the case, which will eliminate the vibrations. If space -and cost- is not an issue, you can always buy a custom walk-in cooler and separate compressor.

      2. SteveTimko Feb 19, 2007 10:44 AM

        If you live in an area with dry humidity, consider keeping a damp sponge in the refrigerator to keep the corks from drying out.
        Budget wine refrigerators are not as reliable as a good off-site wine storage facility.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SteveTimko
          z
          zin1953 Feb 19, 2007 10:45 AM

          Agreed on all counts -- ESPECIALLY your last sentence!

        2. m
          MikeG Feb 21, 2007 03:31 AM

          "If you live in an area with dry humidity, consider keeping a damp sponge in the refrigerator to keep the corks from drying out."

          I agree in concept, but you may or may not need it in practice. Depends how full the case is and how often you open it. Mine is grossly overstufed (I took out most of the shelves and stack the bottles on each other) and doesn't get opened often. I realized pretty quickly that re-wetting the sponges was a waste of time. By now, I've had some stuff in there for more than 10 years, with surprisingly minimal increase in ullage.

          1. Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2007 07:55 AM

            A good temperature- and humidity-controlled wine storage unit is equivalent to a physical wine cellar. With a constant temperature of 55-65F (lack of fluctuation is more important than the precise temperature), wines can last as long as the winemaker made them to last.

            I keep my Vinotemp 600 at 65F to save energy and reduce wear on the compressor.

            An hour's usually enough for wines to come to room temperature. For impulse drinking I also have a Therm au Rouge warming sleeve, goofy but it works.

            1. m
              MikeG Feb 21, 2007 05:45 PM

              "For impulse drinking"

              It'll warm up in the glass in about 5 minutes...

              1 Reply
              1. re: MikeG
                Robert Lauriston Feb 22, 2007 12:36 PM

                Not in my 65-degree living room!

              2. Husky Feb 21, 2007 05:48 PM

                I've tried many different budget wine fridges and none could maintain a constant 55-58 degree temp. I finally nutted up and bought a Sub-Zero #424 under-counter fridge. Vibration seems minimal (if any) and I like the dual temperature zones. Of course, the bloody thing costs $2500 + installation (for the 46 bottle model).

                1. m
                  MikeG Feb 22, 2007 01:22 PM

                  Ah, "room temperature" as it was meant to be. ;)

                  1. goldensf Feb 27, 2007 10:18 PM

                    A friend surprised me with a Cuisinart, Private Reserve Wine Cellar unit, small in size, sits on the kitchen counter, has a 9 to 11 bottle capacity. I've been keeping it at a steady 55 degrees......and my red wines have never tasted better. Amazing at how this cooler temperature keeps red wines cool, but not too cold to the taste. Room temperature tends to be too warm for wines, check out the numerous smaller wine cellar units available.
                    Good luck.

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