About under-counter wine coolers
Built-in wine coolers offer oenophiles a great way to store their precious bottles. They are space efficient, highly functional, and their sleek modern design helps them blend incongruously into most modern kitchens. The dim glow of LED lighting washing over the bottles can enhance the look of the entire room.
But many kitchens simply don’t have the space for two tall built-in appliances, and let’s face it, as wonderful as a wine cabinet is, the refrigerator has to take priority. Fortunately, a range of shorter, built-in under-counter wine coolers exists to give the perfect option to wine lovers who need a place to store their bottles, but don’t have the space for a towering cabinet.
As the demand for these niche products has exploded in recent years, so too have the available models. With so much choice, any consumer can find the perfect unit to suit their budget and their wine storage needs. But the process can seem overwhelming. The key to staying in control over your search is knowing what to look for in the product. This useful buying guide has all the tips you need to get started on your search.
Things to consider
To qualify as an under-counter wine cooler, a product must have two distinct features. It must be front-venting, as the back, top and sides will be snug against the cabinets. And it must fit in a standard, under-counter space. Built-ins are typically 34-35 inches high, 24 inches deep, and depending on capacity, between 24 and 30 inches wide. You can immediately narrow your search by only looking at models in your selected width. 24 inches wide is by far the most common size.
Under-counter wine cabinets usually can store between 26 and fifty bottles. As with all wine coolers, it's important to note that the manufacturer's stated capacity is assuming your entire wine collection is the narrow Bordeaux bottles typical of Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc. Wider bottles like Pinot Noir, or most sparkling wine bottles will take up more space and result in lower capacity. A typical wine collection should come close to the stated limit after some shifting.
Single-zone or dual-zone
The next important consideration is whether you will want one or two temperature controlled zones. Most wine drinkers enjoy a mix of red and whites and thus opt for a dual zone. This means that their reds can be kept at an appropriately higher temperature than their whites, roses and sparklings.
For wine lovers who drink whites exclusively, or who have a basement that maintains a proper red wine serving temperature, a single-zone cooler can be a great choice. It is also important to pay attention to the size of each zone. It is common for a wine cabinet to have one zone larger than the other, so anyone who expects to store a roughly even number of red and white bottles should make sure the two zones have an equal capacity.
Usually, spaces for a built-in will be better served by either a left or right side opening door. Most models have a reversible door and this is the best option. Make sure before you buy that your selected model will work for your space. Also, some coolers come with a factory-installed door lock while others do not. Under-counter cabinets are easily accessed by toddlers (and teens for that matter) so this may be something to keep in mind while shopping.
When buying any appliance it is important to do some research on the manufacturer. Only buy from reputable companies and always check warranty information and see how it compares with what is offered by competitors. Customer reviews usually have feedback about any experiences that previous buyers had in their encounters with the company's customer service.
Built-ins are displayed prominently and become and important part of a kitchen's décor. Because of this, it's crucial that you like how the product looks. Do you want a glass door that displays your bottles, or an opaque door that provides maximum protection against light and UV rays? If your bottles are displayed, will you be able to customize the lighting settings, either by having an auto off, manual off, or always on? And of course, what look fits best with your kitchen's style? All stainless steel gives the most modern look, while wooden shelves visible through the glass give a less industrial feel.
With so many options to choose from, selecting the perfect under-counter wine cooler can seem overwhelming at first. As with any search, you need to narrow it down as much as you can around your selected criteria, and then choose from a few finalists. Your wines are important to you and you know that proper storage for them is essential. Use this guide to start, then take the time to make the right decision. It will feel more than worth it when you uncork your first Chablis, straight from the cooler at a perfect 50 degrees.