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Apr 17, 2012 07:48 AM

Choosing a wine refrigerator

I'm going to be shopping for an under-the-counter wine refrigerator as part of a kitchen remodeling project. I'd like it to be not more than 24" wide and to be able to hold 25-50 bottles. It's possible that a 15" wide unit might be adequate. I have no idea which features are important -- which are "must-haves" and which are nice but not really necessary.

Does anyone have any particular recommendations -- OR brands/models to avoid? And, what else do I need to know about these appliances that may not be obvious? Thanks!

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  1. The most important thing is that the wine fridge be fully stocked at all times.


    1. How much do you want to spend? Do you want a glass door or a solid door? Will it be built-in? Given that you want to do this as a remodel, I'm assuming that it'll be a glass door so that guests and visitors can see that the refrigerator is stocked.

      The Transtherm and Eurocave versions have temperature and humidity control, vibration control (offset compressor) and impressive prices.

      GE has several units which range up to about $5-600.

      Features: adjustable racks to accommodate different bottles, an easy way to set temperature (you should get a remote thermometer anyway) and preferably a unit that has minimal vibration though this unit isn't going to be ideal to hold wines for aging.

      Keeping it fully stocked as suggested by E_M actually will help the refrigerator since the additional thermal mass will help with maintaining temps.

      Personally, I'd build a wine cellar to store wine and build in a small drink/snack refrigerator in its place. Your big refrigerator is going to be pulled open for milk, drinks, and fruit more than anything else.

      4 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        My kitchen designer has budgeted $1,700 for a wine fridge; I believe I can find one that's suited to my needs for somewhat less. This will be an under-the-counter built-in unit and I've assumed the door will be glass.

        I don't generally buy wines for aging. At any given time I have a small stash (~25-30) of drink-now-or-hold-for-a short-time bottles at the ready. The purpose of the unit I'm looking for is to maintain them in a convenient place at the correct storage/serving temp. I'd love to build an actual wine cellar and stock it with great bottles to store for the future, but budget and lifestyle don't warrant it.

        What do the Transtherm and Eurocave units offer that the lower-priced GE units do not? Are Transtherm and Eurocave considered "top of the line"? Are there brands worthy of consideration that fall somewhere between those and the GE units? Is there a way to determine vibration level before purchasing a unit?

        1. re: CindyJ

          $1700? More than adequate for most models, about $1200 short for Eurocave and Transtherm. It's around the price of a GE Monogram unit.

          The two euro models tout a compressor system that is isolated away from the unit to eliminate vibration as well as a system which returns humidity that's normally sucked away as part of the cooling process. For what you're doing and what I think you'll keep, I don't think humidity will be a critical factor to you.

          For vibration, you can always pop it onto rubber feet but again, I don't think vibration should be much of a concern here.

          Your bigger issue will be to install it in a spot where it can vent its own heat and not be heated by an adjacent source (installing it close to a dishwasher would be a bad thing).

          1. re: wattacetti

            The wine fridge will be the only appliance in that wall unit. There will be a small prep sink in that same area, but no source of heat. Regarding venting its own heat, does it generally vent out the front or somewhere else?

            1. re: CindyJ

              The venting depends on the unit. Suggest insulating the hot water line in the prep sink

      2. If you drink reds and whites, you'll want a unit with dual temperature control.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mikie

          Yes, dual temperature control is one of the features I'd be looking for.

        2. Yikes! Makes me glad I've got a basement! :-)

          If you're just storing for short-term, frequent use, then why "invest" in a high-end wine fridge at all? Wouldn't a regular dual-climate bar fridge provide the exact same service? I understand the desire for a nice-looking box (w/glass doors), but it seems like anything labeled "wine fridge" automatically bumps the prices 4x to 10x!

          If it were me (which it's not), I'd consider something like this:

          Of course, that's Australian market.

          Here in the States I'd be looking at something like two of these (stacked, maybe?):

          4 Replies
          1. re: Eiron

            I'm not necessarily looking for a high-end unit; I'm looking for something that will serve my needs AND look good. I can get something like this for under $700, but I don't know anything at all about the quality of this unit.

            1. re: CindyJ

              Hmmm, the reviews on Avanti aren't very promising, are they? I think I'd be more comfortable spending an extra $100 on this Frigidaire:

              Considering they're an established refrigerator brand, I would think you'd get the performance of the boutique brands without paying for the label.

              1. re: Eiron

                From the one review that really says anything, it sounds like the design has some serious flaws.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Check the Wine Enthusiast web site...They have a variety.Avanti is junk. I had one that lasted no more than a year and the company was no help for repair. I traded up to a Eurocave. You might also post on the CH wine page...

          2. I am very please with our Marvel unit which we've had for eight years with no problems whatsoever.