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Jul 20, 2010 06:38 AM

Monitor your wine cooler!

I hadn’t taken anything in or out of our Cuisinart countertop cooler in a few weeks and unfortunately made the discovery on Sunday that the motor had apparently blown (after just 3 or so months of use) and was heating up our wine rather than cooling it.

I haven’t opened any of the bottles (as if they are drinkable, I’d like to open one when I’m prepared to drink wine), but I am just really disappointed that these wines may have been damaged. From what I’ve read, best case scenario is they will taste fine now, but will probably not age well as intended. (None were crazy expensive, but we had 5 bottles in the $30 to $50 that we’d had guests sign at our wedding and we’d planned to share on special occasions to come….and others were from our honeymoon.)

I feel like I should have known better, but I still thought I would share the experience so hopefully it doesn’t happen to you as well!

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  1. I received one of these as a gift, and it still seems to be working OK. I would never buy one, but I kept it and use it in the basement on top of one of my 36 bottle cellars. It is what it is, and when it is working (thankfully mine still is)it is better than nothing. Definitely doesn't get as cold as the Eurocav or Avanti in the kitchen, but it does work. I definitely don't put anything super special in ours though, but great for daily drinkers.

    How hot did the wines get? And how long were they exposed to those conditions? I have several daily drinkers that I keep on a 200 bottle rack in a dark nook in my kitchen, where you can get down to my cellar. These bottles stay here for anywhere from hours to 4 years, and are at whatever the temperature in the house is. I am sure that this fluctuates quite a bit throughout the year, but I have never had a bad bottle (knock on wood).

    Some people seem to forget that wine is a little tougher and more forgiving than they think. I'd pop one open and see how it is. I would have to guess it is still OK. I hope so for your sake! -mJ

    1. heat damage is not reversible. it does become much worse with time. best advice is drink soon.

      1. It's a good idea to keep one of those metal fridge thermometers in any wine unit and check it often. Besides telling you the exact temp (so you can compare to the unit's read-out) it might have given you some warning that things were going South in time to take defensive action. $3- $5 max is good insurance.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Midlife

          It had to have been 85 or 90 degrees in there.

          Now I just have to deal with the warranty issue as frankly I’d prefer to take the money to buy some new wine rather than get another cellar that I won’t trust.

          We did open 2 last night to sample. A Cline Cashmere and a Cheateau Montelena Cab. Both were drinkable, but they lacked fullness and seemed more acidic than they should have been. Perhaps I will buy some new bottles of some of the other bottles that were in the fridge and do a comparison sometime--at least try to make some fun out of the incident!

          Eh…lesson learned.

        2. Here's something interesting and useful in the area of wine units that don't work.

          We gave our daughter a 60-bottle Vintemp unit when she got here Masters. She has since more than filled it, since she loves wine, works in the wine industry and lives in the Bay Area. Six months ago the unit stopped controlling the temperature. Everything sounded OK but it would not cool down. She took her wine out and stored it elsewhere. It was out of warranty and she never got a round to calling a service company, mostly because the cost of service and repair seemed like it could be as much as we'd paid for the unit.

          Anyway................... she moved recently and took the unit along thinking she might figure something out for it. Well.................. two weeks ago she plugged it back in for the umpteenth time and IT WORKS fine so far. The fridge thermometer she has shows it's holding at the right temp.

          These things mostly work on little circuit boards with chips in them. Sometimes, as so often happens with computers, a 'reboot' will do wonders. At thios point she's not asking questions, but monitors the unit daily.

          1. First, I'd study the corks and capsules carefully. If the temp change was slow, you are probably OK. If the corks are pushing out the capsules, and there is leakage, all bets are off.

            For me, I have a recording thermometer, a monitored temp gauge and then a backup cooling unit, set at 60F - just in case. My cellar (not a unit) looses about 0.5F per day, in an Arizona Summer, though with the volume now in there, maybe a tad less.

            If the power fails, and the temp gets above 62F, I get a call, as does a good wino friend. If I am out of town, he goes to the cellar and begins drinking the 1er Cru Bdx. as fast as he can, before they are damaged. [Grin] Actually, I am not sure how much I now trust him, as he once had about 20 cases of his wine in my cellar. Now, it's all mine... maybe he cannot be trusted now - except for those 1er Cru Bdx.

            Sorry to hear about your problem, but good luck. Slow temp increase is much better than a quick one, or a high-low cycle in rapid succession.

            Good luck,