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Snooth User: jfkiii

Hello Snooth! Wine cooler recommendations and reviews.

Posted by jfkiii, Apr 7, 2015.

Hi everyone. I have been looking............ for a wine cooler with 150-250 single zone capacity; there is not a lot of info available. Currently looking at Wine Enthusiast "Classic" model 6603 a 166 bottle capacity unit. Does anyone have any comments or experience with this or a similar sized unit? If so your comments would be very helpful . Is this a quality unit, what is the durability, any downside, etc.?

I have also looked at a Canadian outfit that sells a 240 bottle capacity unit that cooled with a thermoelectric module. This unit is   very reasonably priced., however I am concerned with the cooling , in that its  module is not serviceable and has a claimed life of 5-7 years.... any experiences here?

 

Any comments or thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks, jfkiii 828-287-2288, jfkiii@blueridge.net

Replies

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Reply by EMark, Apr 7, 2015.

Welcome to the Forum, JFK.  We look forward to learning about your future wine adventures.

While I hope you get some good information regarding your questions, sadly, I am not going to be much help.  Personally, I have two coolers.  One was built by my father-in-law over 20 years ago and sits in my garage.  Last year we had a major remodel in our downstairs and I negotiated with my wife for a 286-bottle La Cache unit to sit in our living room while she was able to get new floors (tile in the kithchen and laundry, wood everyplace else), new kithchen cabinets, new lighting, new refrigerator, new quartz kitchen counters, new range, new ceilings (removed "popcorn"), new hearth for the fireplace (covered red brick with quartz), new powder room cabinets, new dishwasher, new powder room quartz counter, new kitchen sink, new wet bar quartz counter (matching fireplace), new powder room sink, new garbage disposal, and new paint all around.  She compromised and kept the old microwave, recovered, instead of replaced, the wet bar cabinetry and kept the wet bar sink.

I know the garage unit is on its last legs.  When it goes, I'll probably dismantle it and move the remaining bottles that are currently in it inside.  This may be a problem because the La Cache is, pretty much, filled to capacity.    In the case of the La Cache, the advertised 286-bottle capacity comes with an asterisk.  It has 16 rows of racks that each hold 2 X 8 standard (750) ml bottles.  So, that is 256 bottles.  Centered above the top rack is the cooling unit, but there is space on either side of the cooling unit to "bulk stack" additional bottles.  In all honesty, there is not room to "bulk stack" another 30 bottles.  The only way I see to get 286 bottles in there is to have a stash of 375 ml half-bottles, and these can only be stored at the bottom because the racks are just wooden rails that are spaced to accommodate the larger 750 ml bottles.  So,my 375s sit satisfactorily on the floor between the rails of the bottom rack.  Large format bottles can only be accommmodated on the top rack.  Mags can fit on the top rack under the cooler, but double mags (I have two) must be stored to the sides of the cooler.  I really don't knowif larger bottles will fit.  If you have larger format bottles or 375s, give some consideration to where you will store them.

That being said, I am quite pleased with the unit.  It is much easier to retrieve bottles from it than from the garage unit.  

I do not have any knowledge of cooling technology.  So, again, I can't help you, there.  When my unit goes out, and it will, I'll make some phone calls to try to get it repaired.

I do agree with your idea of having single-zone cooling.  Dual-zone seems silly to me.

 

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Reply by vin0vin0, Apr 8, 2015.

Hi JFK, looks like you have a Costco about an hour south, I purchased an ArteVino EuroCave from them about a year ago, holds around 200 bottles depending on shape/size. No problems so far. One nice thing is that delivery and set up is included.

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Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 8, 2015.

Here are some good recommendations from Consumer Reports with regard to wine chillers.  I too hope to purchase one someday but they do get very expensive when you're talking about several hundred bottle capacities.

How to choose

 

Pay attention to uniformity

Uniformity of temperature is a wine-storing essential--wine can degrade when stored in a spot with wide temperature swings.

Ideal storage temperatures depend on the density of wine. Sparkling wines, whites, and reds are best stored from 45º to 60º F. Single-compartment cellars let cool air sink within the container to create different zones, but more manufacturers are opting for separate compartments within the units, which allow you to store your wine at different temperatures.

Most of the models excelled at maintaining uniform temperatures, according to the thermometers we installed within the units.

Take a close look at shelving

We liked the way the coated-wire racks on one model lifted quickly and easily out of the wooden-faced shelves when fully extended. As with many other top scorers, the entire shelf units remove easily to create storage compartments for larger bottles. The shelves on another chiller were not removable and did not extend fully but boasted oval openings and an additional plastic insert to hold wider bottles snugly and protect their labels. Other chillers have shelves with narrowly spaced slats that limit capacity and allow bottles to slide about, bump each other, and angle upward to block the drawer opening.

Factor in the noise

A noisy wine chiller can be a concern if it will be placed near living areas. The level of vibration was almost too low for our tests to measure, but we did find that louder models showed greater vibration. Whether that level is bad is open to debate; wine is a liquid, and every molecule is moving much faster than any motion imparted by vibration from a cellar.

Don't disregard energy use

Wine chillers are not particularly efficient and are not part of the federal government's Energy Star program. While the temperatures setting that you choose will increase or decrease your energy use, some models in our tests used more than twice as much as others and almost as much as an 18-cubic-foot refrigerator.

Consider these other features

Many models offer digital temperature controls that you can access without opening the door, which helps keep temperatures even more consistent. The settings for red wine and white wine on one model also cut out some guesswork. Other models had water bins to maintain a high enough humidity level so that corks and labels don't dry out.

Also look at integrated locks to prevent visitors from pilfering your prize vintages, tinted-glass doors that protect your wine from ultraviolet light, and adjustable interior lighting and tilt-up shelves to display your prized bottles or to store partially full ones.

Some wine chillers have wooden shelf edges that you can stain to match your cabinets; others can accept a custom-cabinet frame. Others allow you to insert strips of molding that match your cabinetry around the glass door.

 

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Reply by outthere, Apr 8, 2015.

My personal feelings.

  • Avoid thermoelectric cooling units. They don't work very well, only lower certain number of degrees from ambient temp and are quiet. You never know it broke until you open the door and pull out a warm bottle. Don't ask me how I know this.
  • If that Wine Enthusiast unit is made by VinoTemp avoid it. Not sure, do some homework, it's real easy to see who makes what for whom.
  • The 3 50+ bottle Vissani units I bought from Home Depot more than 6 years ago are still going strong and they were only $400 ea. 

YMMV

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Reply by GregT, Apr 9, 2015.

For my 2 cts, avoid coolers that have 2 zones. That's just ridiculous. You don't store whites and reds at different temperatures. Also don't worry about the temperature differences within the cooling unit. The temp of the air may or may not vary from top to bottom of the fridge, but that doesn't mean that the temp of the wine in the bottles varies. Finally, get a unit that can be serviced by a regular refrigerator repair guy. Some of them are like a regular fridge with a back panel that cools, some have a little mini-AC unit that is usually proprietary and needs to be replaced with a like unit. Get the former. 

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 9, 2015.

Big questions, before we get into technological issues. What 1) are your long term aims (how many years do you want to store bottles of what value), 2) is the degree to which you care about keeping your bottles in utterly (or not) pristine condition, 3) will your desires/needs realistically be a year or two from now If you currently think you need 200-bottle capacity --always take your capacity estimates and triple or quadruple them for realistic response to how wine bottles tend to grow in any storage environment, 4) environment will the refrigeration unit be stored in , and 5) can you dig up in the way of passive options (*always* better, even before environmental considerations), whether access to family or friends' or business associates' cellars, or reasonably priced commercial storage?

Thermoelectric has major technological issues, even after years in the marketplace (with the greatest proportion coming from developing countries like China). Brown wine is not what I want after a couple of years or three. Many other major brands employing other technologies have icing, or humidity or temperature swing or vibration or various other issues so good research is necessary. I used to be heavily involved with people in the commercial wine storage industry and research with them showed only one or two brands to be truly reliable. The rest are a crap shoot.

So I go back to question 5) above.


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