By Gary Landesman
I received an email today from a new friend asking whether or not I thought he should purchase a wine fridge. My emphatic response was YES!
Mistakes such as storing wine upright or keeping it in the kitchen or some other hot place (I did that once – and learned a lesson) can really damage that expensive bottle you have been saving for a special occasion.
Since most of us do not live in Chateaus in France with wine caves, or have enough money to build custom wine cellars in our home, the best we can do is a wine fridge. There are many different types on the market today. They range in price from about $100 for a simply 8-bottle fridge to $1,000 to $5,000 for elaborately decorated, wooden-encased refrigerators that can hold several hundred bottles.
Assuming you do not have the means, space or desire to buy a fridge I would still encourage you to follow a few guidelines. First, only buy wine you intend to consume within a few days or weeks at most. If you do buy an expensive bottle you wish to save, let a good friend with proper storage facilities hold onto it for you – just make sure it is a good friend so that they don’t drink it!
If you do plan on storing a bottle for a few weeks or more without a fridge, keep it away from extreme heat and any place that may have large temperature fluctuations. The kitchen, near a radiator, in the sun – all of these places can lead to a cooked and, consequently, ruined bottle of wine.
Other things which are said to be bad for wine storage are light and vibrations. These too are less than ideal conditions and can lead to a wine that does not age properly and can become damaged.
The best thing you can do is to store wine on its side (important to keep the cork moist which maintains a seal and keeps oxygen out) at the bottom of a closet – preferably one away from the kitchen or any other source of heat.
If you do decide to get a wine fridge you should be aware that in addition to temperature, humidity is also something to keep in mind. The better wine fridges will maintain a humidity level between 60-65% as needed, while maintaining a temperature that you can often set, but should keep right around 55-56 degrees.
As to size, YES size matters! Kidding! Actually, it is said that no matter what size fridge you purchase you will find a way to outgrow it. I would recommend buying a fridge that can hold as many bottles as you would feel comfortable having in your collection – as your collection WILL SWELL to that number – and likely exceed it once you have caught the wine-buying bug.
Finally, remember to have the appropriate location and sufficient space for your fridge. An inability to open the fridge door, or a spot for your fridge where the garage door opener is going to rattle it every time you come home is not recommended.
Gary Landsman makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org