Few things are more important to true wine aficionados than proper storage. There’s no worse feeling as a wine fan than seeing a perfectly good bottle go to waste, and that’s precisely what will happen if you don’t store your wine properly. Part of wine’s charm is the complexity and delicacy of its many components.
The cork, the bottle, the ingredients which account for the wine’s taste, texture, aroma, and overall character – they all need to be in perfect balance with one another. Adverse storage conditions, or a complete lack thereof, can turn even the most charming Chardonnay into absolute swill.
Even if you already know that, however, and understand the importance of proper wine storage, you may not know the best way in which to store your own bottles. Wine cabinets and wine refrigerators both get a lot of buzzes online, but what are the differences between the two, and which is right for you?
Let’s take a look at five differences between wine cabinets and refrigerators, and which ones are best to suit your storage needs.
1. Storage Capabilities
“A bottle of red, a bottle of white” – which should you choose? As Billy Joel so helpfully informs us, “it all depends upon your appetite,” but really, why should you choose? Both are delicious in their own way and pair beautifully with any number of occasions and entrees.
That said, white and red wines have different storage needs. Reds tend to be a bit harder and less demanding when it comes to temperature storage needs and can be stored at temperatures in the mid-to-upper 50s to mid-60s Fahrenheit for lighter red wines. Meanwhile, whites are a bit more delicate and require temperature storage at around 48 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Storage temperatures for aging’s sake tend to hover around the mid-50s.
As you can tell, the overlap there is very slim, and if you prefer to store your whites on the cooler side of the spectrum, it can be next to impossible to store them at the same temperature simultaneously.
Thankfully, many modern wine refrigerators and coolers include different chambers for reds and whites for just this reason. You can store the two at different temperatures within the same unit.
By contrast, wine cabinets tend to be more for wines with the same storage needs. While you can keep reds and whites together at a safe temperature in a wine cabinet, if you prefer to chill your whites, a wine refrigerator may be best.
For comparison’s sake, while wine refrigerators can drop or raise the temperature in different chambers with greater precision, wine cabinets tend to hover around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That isn’t bad for red wines, and can potentially work if you’re looking to store wines long term. However, if you are looking to keep cool white wine on hand, or keep red and white wine together in a ready-to-drink state, you’ll want something that can cool them more accurately to their optimal temperatures, and that means a wine cooler or refrigerator.
2. Humidity Controls
This is something that will vary from unit to unit. That said, wine coolers and refrigerators tend to focus on just that, cooling your wine. They do not always possess humidity controls. While having them in a cooler or refrigeration chamber is better humidity-wise than simply leaving them out in the open, you won’t have the same degree of control as you likely will with a wine cabinet.
Many wine cabinets today such as the CellarPro and Le Cache models come with humidity controls. The degree of humidity control wine cabinets offer will naturally differ from model to model, but plenty is capable of achieving 60% humidity or better.
3. Replaceable Parts
Although there are multiple essential qualities to look for in wine coolers, we can all agree on their singular purpose: cooling wine. If and when their systems start to flounder, it’s time to get a new cooler. By contrast, wine cabinets are made for long-term storage, and so typically feature replaceable parts, including cooling units.
4. The Aesthetic Side
There is a reason why wine is alluded to in everything from Renaissance painting to Romantic poetry – when stored and poured properly, it’s absolutely beautiful! Wine is a highly esthetic beverage, and you’ll want to store it in a furnishing that can match that elegance and complement your interior décor.
Wine coolers tend to be more stripped down and minimalistic, often boasting a metallic exterior.
Wine cabinets are often more elaborate and decorative, with wood paneling, carving and design work, and more attention is given to how the interior and exterior look. This is made possible in part by the fact that wine cabinets often don’t have the same kind of precise cooling systems as coolers and refrigerators, and so they have more freedom design-wise.
Aesthetics are always a matter of taste. Maybe a metallic, minimalistic cooler appeals to you. That said, there is no denying that, traditionally, more attention and detail is typically given to the aesthetic appearance of wine cabinets than their cooler counterparts.
5. Storage Space
This is one area where there is a lot of variation not just between coolers and cabinets, but within those categories themselves. There are tiny coolers that are designed for kitchen countertops and can hold four to six bottles at most, and there are refrigerator behemoths that can easily hold 100 bottles or more. You probably won’t find a wine cabinet that can hold that many bottles (unless it’s part of a full-blown wine cellar) and cabinets that can hold a few dozen bottles are the norms.
Wine cabinets and refrigerators each have their pros and cons. Cooling and storage tend to veer toward the cooler side of things, while wine cabinets have an edge in humidity, replaceability, and aesthetics.
Both are far better than letting your wine simply sit there on the kitchen counter, and both can help preserve your wine in prime condition for that next cork-popping special occasion. Speaking of which, did you know red wine has amazing benefits for your skin and hair? You’ll definitely want to pop a bottle after seeing them.
Author’s BIO: Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions. Lori is currently engaged in news and conceptual articles on the pet care and veterinary industry. You can find her on LinkedIn. Hope you appreciate Lori’s useful insights!