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May 20, 2008 06:21 AM

Wine refrigerators?

I am seeking advice regarding wine refrigerators. I know very little about these other than they range widely in price. I'm looking for 75 to 120 bottle capacity, stand alone (not built-in), less than $1000 would be great. Other bells and whistles I should seek or avoid? Brands to recommend?

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  1. The first thing I would say is that you should buy a bigger refrigerator (actually a wine cabinet as they are not really refrigerators) than you think you will need. As anyone who has purchased one will tell you, they all end up being too small in the long run. I thought that my VinoTemp 500 would be more than big enough for whatever I would need, boy was I wrong. If you are thinking a 75-120 capacity, think about going up to a 200-250 instead. In the long run you will probably save money because you won't have to buy another one in a couple of years.

    1. I'll have to agree that you should always buy bigger if you have the room. Unfortunately for me, we don't have the room. I originally had the "102 bottle" Haier, and it was absolute garbage. Followed all the directions, got it level, ran it at setting "3" for a day, where it actually says 30 minutes, and then turned it down. Could never get the chiller below 63 degrees. Unplugged it over night and tried again, and could no longer get it below 67 degrees. Maybe this one was faulty, but back it goes!

      Replaced it with a 166 bottle Avanti that I am now waiting for to arrive. I know what you all are saying, and yes, I should have gotten a Eurocave. Unfortunately, the Eurocave won't fit where this one is going in the kitchen. =(

      Check our Beverage Factory. They have good deals and free shipping right now on a few models. Worth checking out before you buy in my opinion.

      If money is no option, then Eurocave is the way to go. -mJ

      1. How many bottles of wine do you currently own? What kinds of wine do you buy?

        Many, perhaps, most will tell you to buy bigger than you first think to buy, but I can tell you that I currently hold less than half as many bottles as I did 10 years ago.

        If I had bought storage for 250 bottles when I owned 120 bottles, imagine how I would feel today with 40 bottles.

        6 Replies
        1. re: FrankJBN


          You have to be the only person I've ever heard of that has fewer bottles now than before, but I wish I could say the same. When I had 200 bottles, my wife bought me the VinoTemp, and now it is full and there are cases filling the room where it sits. Of course if you have to put it in the kitchen, it would be difficult to have the bigger cabinet.

          1. re: dinwiddie

            the answer is:

            frank is NOT a collector.

            and i envy him for it!

            that said, it's better to buy bigger. i bought a vinotemp 220 and now easily store 4 x's more than it could hold "offsite". d'oh!

          2. re: FrankJBN

            This will be a gift for my husband who had big plans of building a wine cellar but got sidetracked. We have about 50 bottles on hand now but he hopes to build inventory once he has proper storage.

            Thank you for the input on capacity everyone. All suggestions are welcome as this is really new territory for me. Any thoughts on desirable features?

            1. re: GSM

              I know you say that you have 50 now, but do indeed think about going bigger. I remember years ago buying our first 36 bottle chiller, saying we would never fill it. Well, some years down the road and we have storage for over 300 bottles in various chillers. Finally breaking down and getting a big one. Well, big for us at least.

              To me, the most important features are the following, in no particular order: Has to be a reputable brand name. I am not going to buy something that I have heard of that has been nothing but problems to someone. It also has to be appealing on the eyes, and fit in the space that I need it to fit in. Looks arenot all that important, but you wouldn't find me buying an almond colored cellar if I had stainless steel appliances and it were going in my kitchen. Wooden shelves are important to me because the experience I have had with metal racking is that they destroy the labels on my bottles. Most labels are in pristine condition when I buy new releases, and I like them to stay that way. I also like to have rollout shelves as it makes it easy to find a specific bottle without having to pull a bunch of them out. I also like my shelves to be adjustable/removable for magnums, champagne bottles, and bigger sized bottles.

              Some will argue that dual zones are nice, but I will disagree. I know that the bottom of my chillers is colder than the top, so I put my whites I am going to drink at the bottom. I've seen temperature varition of of to 6 degrees from the top of my existing chillers to the bottom. Some will say theirs are as high as 10.

              To me, Eurocave is the best, but I'm not in the market for a Eurocave at the moment based on where it's going, so I bought the Avanti instead. Sure, they do make Eurocave's the same size as the Avanti, but I wasn't looking to spend $5400 at the moment. But if I had my way, I'd have one of these: Unfortunately that is not practical at the moment. This is unit is more practical, but by the time I bought extra shelves, it was priced out of my range:

              Anyway, that's just my opinion on features. Hope that helps! -mJ

              1. re: njfoodies

                Incredibly helpful, thank you! I was aiming for 120 bottles capacity but may consider larger after hearing from you all. I'm willing to increase my budget to get the right equipment. This isn't a purchase I'd like to make more than once. Avanti seems to have competive pricing. Would you all consider them a reputable brand name?

                1. re: GSM

                  Glad I could be helpful. I won't steer you into which brand you should buy, but base it on quality and bottle count. Realistically, with all of the big pinot, syrah, and Burgundy bottles we have, I will be really surprised if my 166 will actually hold 120 bottles. I am sure I will be somewhere in that arena though depending on how many of the shelves I use.

                  I think that Avanti is a decent brand for my needs, however it is not a Eurocave. For the price I was looking to spend, it was just what the doctor ordered, and what the misses would approve of! =) Others swear by Vinotemp, Wine Enthusiast, Viking, Le Tache, etc, so read peoples reviews about them. After doing my research and budget, the Avanti was a good fit for us. Danby also makes a 166 bottle chiller, but for the price, I went with the Avanti. Not to mention the fact that I had problems with my little Danby that I finally got rid of yesterday.

                  I know that mine will not be the end all be all, but for now, it's perfect, or it will be perfect when it gets here. Eventually I'd like to have a new Eurocave, and maybe I will when we decide to move into a bigger house. But my dream is to have a nice walk in 2500-3000 bottle cellar eventually with nice, rustic looking stone walls! Some day! -mJ

          3. Some thoughts on this:

            - Vinotemp is, in my opinion, the best value out there. We've had a 220-bottle unit for 10 years without so much as a hiccup (he said in total fear of a jinx).
            - You WILL, most likely, fill whatever size you buy. That can be good or bad. I bought a small-ish unit so I wouldn't get too carried away.
            - Make sure, if you can, that you buy a unit that gives you the ability to have some of the racking accept larger format bottles (Pinot Noir, for example) comes in bottles that will often not fit in 'standard' rack spaces. So does Champagne. Some wineries are using those larger bottles for Syrah, too.
            - Make sure you place the unit in a way that allows you access to clean the outside intake vent (usually on the back) on a regular basis without having to empty the unit and move it. Just like home A/C, keeping the vents clean is critical to long life of the unit.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Midlife

              It's a beautiful day in our household as the new Avanti has arrived.

              Stores up to 166 Wine Bottles
              One Touch Digital Control for Red, White, or Sparkling Wine
              Reversible Tempered Double-Glass Door with Stainless Steel Frame
              One Touch Dual Function Electronic Display for Monitoring Temperature (F/CÂș)
              Auto Defrost
              One Touch ON/OFF Interior Cavity LED Lighting System
              Wooden Shelves on a Sturdy Pull-Out Roller
              Built-In Interior Fan for Temperature Control
              Stainless Steel Handle
              Security Lock
              Net Capacity: 166 Bottles
              Color: Black / Stainless Steel
              Unit Dimensions: 71 1/8H x 23.5W x 26 7/8D
              Carton Dimensions: 74.75H x 26W x 30D
              Unit Weight: 223
              Shipping Weight: 239
              Defrost System: Auto
              Power: 110V / 60HZ
              Reversible Door: Yes

              Got home and it was waiting on the curb. Unfortunately, the kid delivering it was without a helper today. That being said, he had his girlfriend with him, and damn near lost it coming off of the truck. So much for P trying to slip the guys a fifty to take it into the house. Beverage Factory really should do more screening on their shipping partners. The kid couldn't even get it out of the street and onto the curb, and offered to leave it in the street, next to the curb, and asked P how busy our street is and how much traffic we get. Yikes! Thank God for Dave being home to help the kid get it off the street and onto the sidewalk.

              So I got home, and saw the giant box sitting on the curb when I arrived. I have to say that it was packed very well. The outside was a combination of cardboard and styrofoam, and the styrofoam was abundant around the chiller. There were plenty of plastic straps holding everything together, and it was sitting on two wood pallets. The chiller itself was wrapped in plastic once I got all of the packing off.

              Thanks to Dave, our local comic book artist, we got the chiller into the house. I have to say that this thing is indeed heavy, and weighs every bit of 220 pounds! I got it level, an let it sit for a few hours per the instructions. I turned it on at around 8PM, and started loading it up with bottles, as well as a few different thermometers to check the temperature. I set it to a cool 55 degrees, and 2 hours later, it is sitting at 63 degrees at the top, and 61 degrees at the bottom.

              All in all, I am very happy with the quality. The wood shelves are nice, the housing is nice, and the glass door is nice. Packaging was very nice as well, and I really don't have a lot of complaints.

              As expected, I did have to remove a few shelves to stack bigger bottles on top of each other. This made me lose some spaces, but at least I could stay bottles 2 high, and 2 deep in these rows. It could always be worse! 166 bottles? Not a chance, but I'd guess I could cram at least 120 in here if I really wanted to!

              As of this morning, the digital display was reading 55 degrees, and upon further investigation, my thermometer at the top of the chiller was reading a cool 54.9 degrees, and the thermometer at the bottom was reading 53.8 degrees. Not bad at all. I am going try different locations for my thermometer sensors to see just how accurate it is, but so far so good.

              I can say that this thing is very quiet compared to that 102 bottle Haier garbage that we originally bought from Home Goods. We could most definitely hear the Haier kick on while we were in the family room watching TV, but that is not the case with this unit. It runs very quietly in comparison.

              So far, I can say that I am very happy with this unit. It looks nice, runs quietly, and was very affordable in comparison. For the money, you can't beat it. Sure, it's not a Eurocave, but it also didn't cost what a Eurocave costs. A full review to come after 6 months in operation!

              1. re: njfoodies

                Terrific and informative! Thanks so much njfoodies!

              2. re: Midlife

                Refrigerator racking --- I just bought a "28" (we shall see) bottle unit from Wine Enthusiast because that's all I have room for in my 675sf 1BR NYC apt. (It hasn't arrived yet....I'm keeping my fingers crossed as most small units are trashed on the forums & blogs, but I figure anything is better than room temp in my apt which easily reaches 80+ degrees in the summer when I'm not home and a/c is off) The slots in the racking that comes with the unit look very narrow (obviously for Bordeaux). Is anyone aware of options (other than stacking) for storing wider bottles in such a unit? Does anyone make a suitable shelf/rack that I could swap out (slide in/replace) with one that comes in my unit?

              3. Check with Vinotemp directly in Carson. I got my "scratch and dent" model for 1/5 the retail price and it's in great condition!!!
                Vinotemp International