Under Counter Coolers: The Modern Wine Cellar
Not too many years back if you heard the term wine cooler, your thoughts automatically went to Bartles & Jaymes and if someone told you about their wine collection you pictured a dusty underground vault, where bottles lined the walls in orderly rows, slowly aging to perfection. Your average person that lived in your average suburban home could enjoy a good glass of wine when out on the town, but seldom had the capacity to store wine in optimal conditions at home. With the advent of under counter coolers, a wine cellar is no longer a necessity in order to be a collector of fine wines. In fact, anyone can turn their kitchen into modern day wine cellar.
Fine wines are expensive and they are only worth the money if you have a place to store them. Wine is alive, constantly changing according to its environment. Lots of things affect what changes a wine, including temperature, humidity, darkness, calm, ventilation and the angle at which it is stored. A good wine cooler will take these things into account. You always want your wine to be stored so that it is horizontal, at the lowest, stable temperature possible, in a place that is free of vibration, and away from places where you store items that have a strong odor.
The ideal conditions for storing wine are at 50 -55 degrees and 70% humidity. A wine refrigerator or wine cooler is ideal for this task. Unlike regular refrigerators, wine coolers run a little warmer maintaining the optimum temperature for wine. Because they are electronic, their temperature never fluctuates, helping the wine to maintain its constant flavor. They also offer storage options so you can lay the bottles down, allowing the wine to always stay in contact with the cork. An under the counter wine cooler, built into your kitchen also offers extra protection from the natural light in your house.
When you go out shopping for a wine cooler, there are some things to look for. You want to make sure that the door of the cooler is dark. Try to avoid clear glass coolers. They may look fabulous when they are filled with rows of wines glittering under the fluorescent lights of your kitchen, but all of the light that will seep in the bottles will ruin your wine. When wine is exposed to too much light it creates a condition called being “light struck.” The result of this condition is that the wine ends up tasting like dry cardboard.
Another consideration when you purchase an under counter wine cooler is the location where you plan to install it. Stand in the middle of your kitchen and take a minute to observe each spot under your counters that the cooler could potentially be placed. Make sure you don’t install it near a stove or oven, which could affect its temperature. Stay away from the refrigerator and the dishwasher because vibrations from both of these appliances will ruin your wine. Placing an under counter wine cooler near the sink also puts if too close to vibrations as water runs through the pipes. If you have an island that has no appliances situated on it you have found the perfect location for under counter wine cooler.
With the installation of an under counter wine cooler, you can serve wine to guests that came from your own “cellar” Since a cooler will maintain the perfect conditions for storing your wine, your guests will never know you didn’t trek down a flight of stars into a darkened basement, sift through row after row of fine pinots to choose the perfect vintage, and chill the bottle to perfection.