An undercounter wine cooler is a convenient storage facility for smaller wine collections or perhaps a place to keep just a small portion of a bigger wine collection in a more accessible area such as a kitchen or den. Often called under counter Wine Cellars, the coolers are a bit different from a standard cooler in that they do not get as cold and some do not have compressors as you will read about in the next section.
These coolers typically do not get any colder than about 46 degrees Fahrenheit. A typical refrigerator would to up to about ten degrees colder than a wine cooler. The optimal temperature for storing wine is generally above 45 degrees but not nearly as warm as room temperature. That’s why wine is often kept in cellars or specially climate controlled wine cellars for optimal storage and aging of fine wines.
How Wine Coolers Work
Some of them are very similar to a refrigerating unit and some have what is called thermoelectric cooling instead of a standard compressor. A thermoelectric wine cooler contains what is called a cooling node. The node consists of a ceramic tile that has electrical current passing through it. As the electric current passes through the cooling node, the outside of the tile heats up and the side facing into the cooler cools down.
There will also be small fans inside the unit to help evenly distribute the cool temperatures created by the node throughout the inside of the wine cooler. With no compressor, thermoelectric coolers will produce less vibration and fewer disturbances of the sediments within the wine inside it. You need to keep in mind that thermoelectric coolers are not completely silent. The internal fans used to distribute the cold air produce a little noise. However, they are normally quieter than models with a compressor.
When installing a wine cooler under a counter, you want to purchase a undercounter unit and not a freestanding unit. Undercounter units are built specifically for putting in an enclosed space while freestanding units are not vented properly to use under a countertop. The under counter units vent in front whereas most freestanding units do not, causing them to overheat and eventually fail to operate if you put them under the counter and block their ventilation systems.
So once you have your under counter wine cooler purchased you will need to carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions when putting it in. We will not cover installation here because they are all slightly different and you are encouraged to follow the specific instructions for the unit you purchase.
Wine coolers are available at a lot of major appliance dealers and department stores as well as discount stores like Wal-mart and Super K-Mart. Under counter units however may be more readily available in the appliance or specialty shops as opposed to the discount stores that often only carry the freestanding wine coolers that will not work for using under a counter top. So be careful what you buy! The average sized under counter wine cooler holds around 50 bottles of wine and costs right around $700.
What Temperature to Store Different Types of Wine
As we mentioned earlier, wine coolers are not as cold as a regular cooler. They are designed to go as cold as 46 degrees Fahrenheit. But how do you know what the optimal temperature is for the type of wine you store? We will enlighten you. The ideal temperature for red wine is 50-55ºF. White wines can be stored at lower temperatures or at around 45º. Ideal humidity for storing wine ranges from 60-75% RH.
So while the optimal storage temperature for wine is from 45 to 55 degrees, the recommended serving temperatures very much more and there are many different temperatures for different types of wines. We will give you a general outline below with categories and serving temperatures (all temperatures are in Fahrenheit):
Bordeaux, Shiraz, Rhone wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Burgundy – 63 – 65 degrees
Rioja, Pinot Noir – 61 degrees
Chianti, Zinfandel – 59 degrees
Madeira, Chinon – 57 degrees
Young Spanish, Portuguese wines – 55 degrees
Beaujolais, Valpolicella – 54 degrees
White Burgundy – 52 degrees
Chardonnay, Australian Semillon – 50 degrees
Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc – 48 degrees
Sauternes, Muscats – 45 degrees
Champagne, Cava, Asti – 43 degrees