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How to pick your wine refrigerator

Wine Refrigerators can be found under a few different names: Wine Coolers, Wine Chillers, Wine Caves, some even call them Wine Cellars. I find that these names get lumped together and aren’t always descriptive of the product. What you need to do when choosing your wine refrigerator is look at it the same way you would a wine cellar; considering temperature, vibration, lighting and storage.


The first thing you need to ask is whether you are purchasing this for serving wine or if you are using it to store your wine? Either way you want to make sure the temperature range goes low enough for serving and high enough for your storing preferences. One of the key things to keep in mind is where the temperature display is getting its data. A lot of refrigerator thermostats read the air temperature, which is not always accurate of your wine. If you have a larger unit, the air temperature is going to be different in opposite sections of the cabinet. A unit with sensors that are inside the cabinet walls will give you a reading that will let you better understand the temperature of your wine.


The compressor, which is the heart of the wine refrigerator, extends the vibrations it creates to the rest of the cabinet, including the wine. One common step is to place the compressor in a separate compartment; some manufacturers place this compartment behind the wine storage, others below. This does not completely solve the problem, though. There should be a few more measures; special matting on the shelves, keeping the compressor off of the floor, etc. Be sure to ask what measures have been taken to manage this before purchasing.


Noise is not necessarily an issue for the wine, but more an issue for you. You aren’t going to want to hear a loud refrigerator 24/7. Of course, you will never totally escape it. Some wine refrigerators work in cycles so the noise will only happen a few times throughout the day which also means you are creating a less disruptive environment for you wine, by cutting back on the compressor and fan movement. This is often a question people forget to ask while buying a wine refrigerator and many sellers aren’t going to bring it up.


Wine Refrigerators can get pricey; they can also be pretty cheap. If you are an avid collector, drinker or just appreciate wine it is worth a the extra money to get a few of these protective features. The more expensive ones are not always worth it either. Sometimes you are just paying for the brand name. A standard sized wine refrigerator (40 to 60 bottles) should cost you somewhere between $1200 and $1700.

Vigilant has chosen the Marvel line of wine refrigerators because it hit the precautionary measures we found important for wine, but also stayed in a good price range. If you are just starting or are in the middle of your wine refrigerator research, check out our standard and custom refrigerated wine cabinet options.