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THE BEST WINE COOLER?

rookcook1 Mar 20, 2007 03:44 PM

What is the best wine cooler on the market. I'm looking for one that holds anywhere from 6-12. What are pros and cons to different brands? Thnks

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  1. z
    zack RE: rookcook1 Mar 20, 2007 07:06 PM

    my advice is don't get one at all in that size because you'll be upgrading soon after because that's what happened to me. i got a 12 bottle vinotemp on sale at target for $60. no more than a few weeks later, i ended up with a 2nd fridge that holds 35. i am now looking again...

    16 Replies
    1. re: zack
      rookcook1 RE: zack Mar 21, 2007 03:30 PM

      Thanks for the feedback. where do you think the best place to purchase one are? What about best brands?

      1. re: rookcook1
        Bill Hunt RE: rookcook1 Mar 21, 2007 06:05 PM

        For some reason, my earlier post to your thread did not make it. Oh well. In it, I recommended looking at Wine Enthusiast (www.wineenthusiast.com) and take a look around. I have friends who own the EuroCave multi-tem units and love them.

        Also, as Zack says, go larger than you have wine for, as you WILL need it.

        I'll also add that I have had some bad experiences with my WhisperKool unit for my cellar and it's made by Vinotheque. I am not sure of exactly which brands they produce, but I'd caution away from those.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt
          rookcook1 RE: Bill Hunt Mar 21, 2007 08:15 PM

          Awesome. Thanks for all the useful input. Is there a certain time limit one can store a bottle of wine in a, wine cooler? Or if I'm sitting on a bottle of wine for a few years, is it okay to keep it in the cooler?

          1. re: rookcook1
            Bill Hunt RE: rookcook1 Mar 21, 2007 10:06 PM

            Most of the better units are designed to keep the wines at ~ 55F, which is deemed (by many) as the optimum storage temp for "proper" aging. A bit higher, and the wine ages gracefully, but more quickly. A bit cooler, and it does so, but more slowly.

            In really general terms, the wine 'fridges are designed to do two things: keep the wine at a "proper" serving temp, but also allow the wine to be stored, with no harm, for aging.

            With a small sized unit, you will probably be more concerned with not harming the wine, and having it at a good serving temp, or close. I plan on adding about 3, but they will be for ready access and serving temp, as I've got a 3700 btl. cellar for storage.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt
              rookcook1 RE: Bill Hunt Mar 22, 2007 10:31 AM

              Does the different temperatures of aging effect quality, or taste of wine? And for different wines are there different temps or storing conditions?

              1. re: rookcook1
                Bill Hunt RE: rookcook1 Mar 25, 2007 10:20 AM

                If one considers the aging of a wine to be fairly linear, then the temp will either accelerate, or retard, that process. For instance, if a particular wine is kept at a constant 60F, it will "age" more quickly, than the same wine kept at 45F. By "aging," I am referring to the chemical processes of the various components within the wine, melding, with some of the elements percipitating out, usually in the form of a semi-solid residue, lees. This incorporation of the components is thought to be more desirable to many. A visual example, oft stated, is that the wine is like a multi-sided solid object, with the sides joined in sharp creases, with edges, and points. The "aging" allows these edges and points to fall away, leaving a smooth sphere. Many wine drinkers like the "smooth sphere" wine better. To some, this would improve the "quality" of the wine. That said, remember that this "quality" is a personal perception, and that, also, one is not going make a bad wine excellent, with just aging. You need to start with a very good wine, to begin with.

                As for the different wines and how they age - I believe that there are differences. A bit of it depends on what one likes from the particular wine, i.e. fruit-forward with more pronounced tannins in its youth, or a smoothing and diminution of the tannins and other components with a loss of some of the fruit. With regards to which aging chart one uses, it will probably be more dependant on how long one wishes to keep this wine, as it ages. If you have invested in 1er Cru Bdx, as an investment, and plan to hold it for half a century, before selling it, you might elect to store at a lower, constant temp. If you purchased, with the intention of consuming it, before you're too old to drink it, then a warmer, constant temp might work better.

                Another thought is to decant/caraffe the wine for a longer period before serving it. Exposure to oxygen does *some* of the things, that bottle aging does. In that case, one can store all at a constant temp, say 55F, then decant/caraffe for more time, before consumption. This will allow some, but not all, of the chemical reactions to take place, and can mimick aging. How closely, is a debate, and is very much subject to personal tastes.

                Hunt

          2. re: Bill Hunt
            s
            Steve K RE: Bill Hunt Mar 25, 2007 05:14 PM

            Bill, our WhisperKool went out due to a lightening storm - hadn't thought to use a surge protector - and we found out the hard way that an exchange with Vinotheque is likely preferable to having it fixed locally. Although that may be due to an apparent lack of good refrigeration specialists where we are.

            Were I to do it again, I would install a split system.

            What sort of problem(s) have you been having?

            1. re: Steve K
              Bill Hunt RE: Steve K Mar 25, 2007 06:48 PM

              Well, the first unit (8 years ago) had a bad compressor. It took three overnight shipping episodes to finally get the correct one. It worked for about a month and then died. About this time, I made contact with the, then, president, Tom Bennett, IIRC. He had a total new unit shipped out, also overnight and apologized. It seems that his family had sold the company, and had just re-purchased it. All was well for seven years.

              That unit died, so I purchased a new one. It worked for six months. I contacted Vinotheque and was given the name/number of the service company in PHX. They were instructed to diagnose the problem, but this had to be done without opening the unit. Their diagnosis was that the compressor had failed. Vinotheque gave me a few options:
              1.) Remove the unit and ship it back to CA, where they would decide what to do and within a month, ship the repaired unit back, or ship a new unit. As this was June in PHX, it was not really an option. Their "help" was to tell me to fill the cellar with dry ice for a month.

              2.) Buy a new unit from them for US$600. As my unit was only a few months old, I did not feel that this was a viable option.

              3.) Buy a new compressor for US$650 and pay the service company to install it, thus voiding my warranty, which did not seem to do much anyway.

              I chose option 4 - buy a split-system and ship my WhisperKool back. In about 3.5 weeks, I got a rebuilt unit back, though not my unit, rebuilt. I used it as a backup to my split-system.

              I asked, during the conversations to speak to Mr Bennett, but was informed that he had sold the company, yet again, and that he was no longer affiliated with Vinotheque.

              During our conversations, it became clear that they had no concern for my cellar, full of wine, or for me, as a returning customer of almost nine years. During the tenure of Mr Bennett, I sang the praises of the company, and did not hesitate to recommend WhisperKool, on the Usenet, and on different wine fora. Now, I cannot do so.

              With 4000+ bottles of wine, sitting in a cellar that looses 1ยบ F/day, with no active cooling, the company could not offer any viable solutions to a unit, gone bad in about 6 months, I became convinced that customer service was not a tenant. It was also disconcerting, that one of the solutions was to call their "certified service technicians," only to be told, that they could not do anything to diagnose, or repair the unit. The option, that they offered, was for me to buy a new compressor and then pay to have it installed. The total cost of this would be approximately 1/2 of the cost of the still new unit in my cellar.

              My WhisperKool is already on a surge-protector, and, as you point out, I have a split-system, with the WhisperKool as a backup. Arizona and wine really do need that sort of protection.

              I hope that this has not gotten too far off-topic from what the OP asked, but you now know why I feel, as I do about Vinotheque. At this point, I would not buy any of their products. That does not mean that the OP, or any others, might not have excellent results, should they choose to do so.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                rookcook1 RE: Bill Hunt Mar 26, 2007 04:05 PM

                4000+ bottles?? Quite the collection. Where do you acquire them all from, and when did you start collecting?

                1. re: rookcook1
                  Bill Hunt RE: rookcook1 Mar 26, 2007 08:02 PM

                  They come from all over. I pick up about 10+ cases per year from CA, when we drive up to SF. I belong to several wine lists and get another couple of cases per year there. The rest come from K&L (Redwood City, CA), Wine Spectrum (Napa, CA) and local retailers, plus a few "gifts" from friends, who have either wineries or vineyards, mostly in CA.

                  I got into wine in about '85, but didn't start collecting until a few years after that. I had an 800 btl. passive cellar in CO, and built my current cellar, when we moved to AZ (note: not at all passive down here). When we had our "Cellarbration," on the startup of the cellar, we had about 1200 blts., and I thought I'd never fill the space. But, it's just like those old 10MB hard drives, that I never thought I could possibly fill, I now have about 20 cases on the floor, so I need to slow down on my purchases, or drink more quickly. That's why I always recommend that someone decide the max # of btls. for their storage, then double that.

                  One thing, with my age, I'm going really slowly with my Bdx. purchases (Vintage Port too), as I will probably not live long enough to see them mature.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    rookcook1 RE: Bill Hunt Mar 27, 2007 07:05 AM

                    Wow, that's great. I would love to take some of those off your hands, for I am starting my collection!

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      Midlife RE: Bill Hunt Jan 10, 2012 03:16 PM

                      Bill, I've always wanted to ask someone with a collection that big how much of it they actually drink, and over what period of time. Two bottles a day, every day, is only 730 a year, so you can't be drinking it all yourself. Is much of it used for parties, events, tastings, or traded? I suppose you could just stop buying and go through it. but what's the fun in that?

                  2. re: Bill Hunt
                    s
                    Steve K RE: Bill Hunt Mar 27, 2007 07:52 AM

                    Thanks for the info. Sounds somewhat familiar; in Eastern Oregon, I chose to repair locally (voiding warrantee) rather than wait. Fortunately it failed in the springtime, and I rotated blocks of ice from the garage freezer, helped by a small fan across the blocks of ice. Most irritating.

                    What split-system did you use? The idea of using the WhisperKool only as backup makes sense.

                    1. re: Steve K
                      Bill Hunt RE: Steve K Mar 27, 2007 12:07 PM

                      I used the WineMate, which cools 2K cu ft. (cellar is 1K cu ft, but I live in AZ and it has 2-earth-bermed walls, 1-common to the house, and one exterior, that is N facing and under a 14' deck), their largest 120V system, as I only had 120V/20A to the level with the wine cellar. If I were building, I'd go with the 220V unit and have it oversized even more.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        s
                        Steve K RE: Bill Hunt Mar 27, 2007 02:36 PM

                        Thanks. How do you fit 4K bottles in 1Kcf?

                        Even with a low ceiling, you can't have much room to turn around. Better drink faster:)

                        1. re: Steve K
                          Bill Hunt RE: Steve K Mar 28, 2007 05:44 PM

                          It's designed to be a "working" cellar, with only a shelf (atop a lower rack of double-bottles) to place the wines, as I'm racking 'em. There is no tasting area, etc. and it's floor to 9' ceilings. Unfortunately, what little space I had is now occupied with case, upon case of wine. I'll have to move much of that out, just to start filling in the "holes." About 12 cases belong to a good friend, who is building a new house, and cellar. He's also rented space to store the rest of his wine, until then. I'm hoping that he'll move many of these to that space, as I cannot reach my Pinot Noirs, without dragging all the stuff outside, just to get in. Normally, there is just room for the case that I'm off-loading, my ladder and a little space to move about. I envy those with 800 sq. ft. cellars with large-bottle displays, decanting tables, etc., but only had a 10x10x10 room, with which to work. At least I had that.

                          Hunt

          3. ArikaDawn RE: rookcook1 Mar 27, 2007 02:49 PM

            Bartles and Jaymes!

            Ok, that was a joke. They did have make some memorable commercials though...

            1. o
              ORtastytravels RE: rookcook1 Jan 6, 2012 06:55 PM

              I just bought a Vinotemp 46 bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler from Costco.

              1. z
                zin1953 RE: rookcook1 Jan 9, 2012 07:00 AM

                Damn, and here I was thinking "Bartles & Jaymes" . . . .

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