EuroCave Wine Cabinet (Photo: Rosehill Wine Cellars)
If you’ve been wondering whether you should get a wine refrigerator, below are some answers to help you figure it out. Most people who ask this question have recently begun collecting bottles of wine for future enjoyment with their meals. Simply placing wine on a decorative wine rack in your home could ultimately diminish the flavor, since undesirable chemical reactions occur in the wine from too much heat or exposure to UV rays. In the absence of a wine cellar, a wine refrigerator may be just what you need, but it depends.
Length of Storage
A wine fridge is excellent for storing wine for the short-term or medium-term. Long-term storage, on the other hand, may not be ideal for a free-standing wine refrigerator or an under-the-counter wine fridge. Quality wine that is stored for five years or more will do better with the unique conditions in a wine cellar. The temperature fluctuations in a wine cellar are typically minimized, as are vibrations and exposure to UV rays. EuroCave now offers wine cabinets that are made especially for long-term storage. They have significantly fewer vibrations than the nearest competitors.
Wine is a unique beverage that benefits from being stored in a very specific temperature range, that being between 55°F and 60°F. If wine is stored for very long, there should be at least 50% humidity, so that the corks don’t dry out, shrink, allow air inside the bottle, and spoil the wine because of oxidation. As mentioned above, other considerations include stability and protection from UV rays. If you have more than a few bottles of wine to drink, a wine fridge could be perfect for you.
Why a Standard Refrigerator Won’t Work
The atmosphere in a standard kitchen refrigerator is not favorable to wine storage. One problem is that refrigerators are designed to remove humidity from the cold air. Humidity is an essential element of proper wine storage. The temperature in a refrigerator average 40°, which is considerably colder than the ideal temp for wine. Another problem is that refrigerators don’t have wine racks.
Where to Buy a Wine Fridge
Is a wine fridge right for you? At Rosehill Wine Cellars, we offer a wide range of quality wine refrigerators. Among our selections are EuroCave Wine Cabinets that mimic a wine cellar better than any other wine cooler. You can find wine fridges of all sizes as well as under-the-counter and stand-alone wine coolers on the Rosehill Wine Cellars website. If you grow out of your wine fridge, Rosehill is also the place to call for a custom-built wine cellar.
CellarCOOL wine cooling system.
If you have a wine cellar cooling unit in your wine cellar that’s made by a leading manufacturer such as Wine Guardian, CellarCOOL, or Koolspace, you can be confident that your wine is in a safe environment. Every cooling unit has a lifespan, however. There comes a time when you need to replace your custom wine cellar cooling system. The last thing any wine lover wants is for their cooling system to go out without their knowledge, causing wine to potentially get too warm, which can spoil it quickly. It’s very helpful to know signs to watch out for so that you know your wine cellar refrigeration system may need to be replaced.
Making Strange Noises
Wine refrigeration systems are usually very quiet. If you ever hear noises, it could be an indication that the unit needs to be repaired or replaced. The following provides an idea of various sounds a cooling unit makes plus what may be causing it:
- Squealing is an indication that the fan belt may need to be replaced.
- Rattling could mean that a panel is loose or perhaps that the motor or fan blade is rubbing against another component of the cooling system.
- A hissing noise usually means you have an air or refrigerant leak. This usually occurs near the reversing valve or the compressor.
- A gurgling sound could be a sign that there is excess air in the lines.
Temperature or Humidity Inconsistencies
Important aspects of wine storage include maintaining a constant temperature of 55° to 58° F and a certain, consistent humidity level. Sometimes a faulty thermostat is the problem and all that’s needed is to replace batteries or the thermostat itself. If humidity has become a problem, however, it could be the refrigerant levels in your cooling system are low. Contact a professional technician to determine the refrigerant levels and add more, if it’s needed.
It’s normal for wine cellar refrigeration units to need repair for water leaks. Condensation is produced on evaporator coils on normal days, and it drips into a condensate pan that drains the water. If the drain becomes clogged, the pan will overflow and leak onto the floor. Refrigerant can also leak, but that’s far less common.
If you have your wine cellar built by the dedicated experts at Rosehill Wine Cellars, your cooling unit will be professionally installed and can also be maintained by experts. Always call professionals for wine cellar cooling unit repair as soon as you suspect a problem. Remember that wine cooling units by even the best manufacturers, such as Wine Guardian, CellarCOOL, and Koolspace, have a lifespan and eventually need to be replaced. It’s unnecessary for your wine to get spoiled in the switch from one wine cooling system installation to another.
What type of cooling system is best for your wine cellar? Is it a self-contained, through-the-wall system (covered in a previous post on this site)? The ductless split wine cellar cooling unit is another of three primary types of refrigeration systems for wine cellars. The third is the ducted split air handler wine cellar climate control system.
A wine cellar with a ducted wine cellar cooling system .
No other component of a wine cellar does as much as the cooling unit to provide the ideal wine storage environment. Choosing the right kind of refrigeration unit is essential. Experts like the builders at Rosehill Wine Cellars know which to recommend, based on location, size, and other aspects of the wine cellar. The following is information about a ductless-split wine cellar refrigeration system and a ducted split air handler wine cellar cooling system.
Ductless Wine Cellar Cooling System
There are two mechanical components to a ductless split wine cellar cooling system, and they are: The condensing unit and the evaporator unit. The “split” aspect of the system means that the two primary components are in separate locations. The evaporator coil is placed inside the wine cellar. It doesn’t produce any noise, since all of the noise and heat are produced by the condenser, which is installed in a separate and remote location. The two parts of the unit are connected with small copper tubing and electrical wiring.
Benefits of a ductless split wine cellar cooling unit include the following:
- Maintenance and repair is performed on site.
- The unit is durable and has a long life expectancy.
- There is no fan noise or any other noise produced by the unit in the wine cellar.
- There is no heat exhaust.
- Servicing can be done on site.
Ducted Split Air Handler Wine Cellar Climate Control System
The ducted split air handler wine cellar cooling system is very similar to the above-described unit. The primary difference is that the wine cellar has no visible equipment inside of it. Cooled air is ducted to and from the wine cellar. With a split air handler, the evaporator and condenser are in separate locations7, both of which are outside the wine cellar. The other type has a self-contained air handler, meaning the evaporator and condenser are housed in the same unit.
The Importance of the Cooling Unit
Choosing the right cooling unit is very important and is a decision best left to experts like the pros at Rosehill Wine Cellars. Factors that are considered in determining the size of a cooling unit include size of the wine cellar, insulation, any outdoor walls, whether or not there are glass doors or walls, and the number of wine bottles to be stored. Getting it right is worth it because it all comes down to preserving wine for maximum enjoyment. If you are ready to have a custom wine cellar built, contact Rosehill, where wine cellar construction is what we specialize in.
Breezaire Cooling Units
Wine cellar cooling units can rightly be considered the cornerstone of a proper wine storage environment. There are many other factors that impact the effectiveness of a wine cooling unit, however. The following are more facts about wine cellar cooling units, including information about other components that affect how the unit performs.
During construction of a wine cellar, it’s essential to include a vapor barrier or vapor retarder. Because sudden or frequent temperature and humidity fluctuations in a wine cellar can damage wine, the vapor barrier and insulation are both of tremendous importance. A vapor retarder prevents warm air from entering the cool environment in your wine cellar. Various factors determine the thickness, finishes, and applications of a vapor barrier. Those factors include the size, capacity, and location of your wine cellar. The vapor barrier must be installed on the warm side of the wall, and the process must be thoroughly done. The effectiveness of the vapor barrier impacts the performance and effectiveness of the wine cellar cooling unit.
Professionals in wine cellar construction understand the unique role insulation plays, to ensure that wine cellar cooling units can do the job they are designed to do. Insulation must be properly installed in the walls, floors, doors, and windows. The requirements for insulation are determined by the outside wall the cellar occupies and the depth of the cellar below grade. Some of the challenges to proper wine cellar insulation include ductwork, plumbing pipes, and electrical wirings.
Another important aspect of a wine cellar that many people don’t know about is the condensate drain line. The condensate fitting and tube allows overflow condensation to exit from underneath the wine cellar cooling unit. The drain line must be connected at all times, so that the walls and other wine cellar components aren’t damaged by water. Maintaining the proper temperature and humidity in a wine cellar requires a drain line. However, when a wine cellar is built properly, condensation is minimal.
The electrical work on a wine cellar is also important, to ensure that the cooling unit can perform at an optimal level. A dedicated electrical circuit helps to minimize the risk of a tripped circuit breaker. If the electricity ever went out for a prolonged period, it could mean the wine environment is altered and the wine is spoiled.
Previously in this two-part series it was mentioned that wine cooling units operate up to 70% of the time. Quality wine cellar cooling units, such as those made by manufacturers Breezaire and WhisperKOOL, can be depended upon to work dependably usually for 35,000 hours before any type of mechanical service is required.
All of the essential elements of building a quality wine cellar have an impact on the wine cooling unit. When you trust professionals like the wine cellar construction experts at Rosehill Wine Cellars, you can be confident of top quality results. Contact Rosehill Wine Cellars today to get started on your own wine cellar in southern Ontario. Recommendations will be made on the best wine cooling unit to choose, based on the specifics of the wine cellar itself.
Learn basic wine-tasting terms, such as those on the Fruit Level.
Using wine-tasting terms is most useful when you pop the cork on a wine that has been properly aged. When flavors are developed to perfection, aromas and depth of taste make wine-drinking a distinct pleasure. To be a true wine connoisseur, you don’t have to own your own wine cellar with a wine cooling unit, though you may need a wine fridge. The right temperature and humidity are, after all, important for wines in storage. What is essential is knowing wine-tasting terms in their four categories, which are: The Fruit Level, The Sweetness Level, The Body Profile, and The Finish. Mastering terms in the Fruit Level is a great start.
Storage and the Fruit Level
When wine is opened at the optimal time, it is usually very fruity. As time continues to pass, the wine becomes more tannic and less fruity. Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol in fruit skins, leaves, seeds, and plants. The characteristics of tannin in wine are astringency, complexity, and bitterness.
Most wines made today are best without aging. Anyone who prefers a powerful fruitiness in wine may prefer to drink young wines. A wine fridge is recommended to keep wine at the perfect 58-degree temperature and at a modest level of humidity, approximately 70 degrees.
If wine gets too hot for too long, it loses its wonderful fruitiness, other flavors, and aroma.
Wine Terms in the Fruit Level
There are rich, light, dry, and sweet wines; and all of them have a fruit level. There are two sub-categories in the fruit level, those being “Fruit Forward” and “Savory.”
A wine that has dominant flavors in the realm of sweet fruit is fruit forward. This doesn’t refer to sweetness but rather the fact that the wine is bursting with the aroma of sweet fruit. These wines might be described as:
- Sweet tannin
- New World Style
Jammy is a term typically used to describe Zinfandel and other wines with high alcohol content. Higher sugar levels in wine result in higher alcohols and full, ripe flavors and jammy tones.
In red wine, fruit forward varieties might also be described by any of these flavors: Maraschino cherry, sweet raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, prune, candied fruit, baking spices, vanilla, toffee, black raisins, and sweet tobacco.
In white wine, fruit forward flavors may be described as any of the following: Mandarin orange, baked apple, sweet Meyer lemon, mango, sweet pineapple, ripe pear, crème brûlée, vanilla, cantaloupe, caramel, and ripe peach.
Wines in the fruit level that are savory have qualities that are basically the opposite of fruit-forward wines, although they are still loaded with flavors of fruit. The difference is that savory fruit flavors are in the bitter-sour-tart spectrum. Wine-tasting terms for savory wine include:
- Old world style
- Bone dry
- High minerality
In red wine, savory varieties might also be described by any of these flavors: Green bell pepper, black currant or cassis, olive, rhubarb, wild strawberry, bilberry, mulberry, peony, dried herbs, game, leather, tobacco, underbrush, gravel, wood smoke, sage, sour cherry, and charcoal.
In white wine, savory flavors may be described as any of the following: Lemon, quince, green apple, bitter almond, lime, green papaya, chervil, apple skin, grapefruit, jalapeno, flint, grass, and gooseberry.
Are you looking forward to detecting the fruit in your next bottle of wine? Once you get into the pleasures of wine drinking, the next thing that typically happens is that you need plenty of storage. Whether you need a wine fridge or have a wine cellar complete with cooling unit that you have been needing to make good use of, knowing wine terms will make you one step closer to being a bona fide wine connoisseur.