What is a Wine Chiller?
First, let’s go over the obvious: what is a wine chiller? Also known as wine caves or wine fridges, wine chillers are used to store wine at their ideal conditions. What does this mean? This means controlling not only the temperature, but the humidity, lighting, and vibrations that your bottles can be exposed to. In fact, one of the greatest functions of a wine chiller is its ability to protect wine from potentially damaging natural elements.
After all, wine is something that is alive. It's constantly evolving and we need to ensure it has the right conditions in which it can age to perfection safely. If your bottles are stored improperly, it can damage the quality and integrity of your wine. But you might be wondering, why can’t I just use the fridge I already have at home?
What is the Difference Between a Wine Chiller and a Regular Fridge?
Whilst a regular fridge is fine for the short-term (a few weeks) it isn’t suited for storing wine for the long-term. This is simply because it’s designed to store food, not wine. To safely store food, fridges need to be cold and dry. This creates an environment that is too harsh for the fragile composition of wine and can actually compromise the quality of your wine.
When wine is stored in an excessively cold environment for a long time it can start to taste tart. Likewise, wine needs humidity to help keep corks moist but regular fridges are designed to remove humidity from the air. Another factor is shelving. Wine chillers are designed with shelving that allows you store your wine bottles horizontally — this allows sediment (perfectly normal in wine) to be equally distributed in the wine. It also helps keep the corks moist from the inside.
Regular refrigerators are also too busy. Depending on how many people live with you, your fridge will probably get opened and closed several times a day. This causes vibrations that can disrupt the sediment in your wine. You might also have children in the house and we all know that sometimes they like to open the fridge on their own and don’t always close the door properly. This can create temperature fluctuations that will also damage your wine.
The more obvious issue with storing your wine in a regular fridge? Food. The food stored with your wine, and their aromas, can actually alter the flavors of your wine.
In short, not only does wine need a cool and relatively humid environment, it needs a consistent environment. These are the types of conditions that a wine chiller can provide. But if you don’t plan on aging your wine, a regular fridge will do just fine.
How to Know if You Really Need that Wine Chiller?
While we covered the differences between a regular fridge and a wine chiller, and why the latter is better for storing your wines long-term, does that mean you really need a wine chiller? Here are the other things you should ask yourself before deciding to buy a chiller.
Does my home have fluctuating temperatures, i.e. do you keep turning your aircon off and on? Or on the flip side, is it particularly warm in the area where you’re keeping your wines (this can cause your wine to taste dried out and "dead")? You want to keep your wines at a steady temperature between 11-14°C so if your current environment falls outside of that range, it’s time to get a wine chiller.
Another question to ask yourself is how often you drink and how seriously you take your wine. If wine is something you only drink occasionally and you only buy a few bottles every now and then, a wine chiller might not be necessary. But if you’re particular about a wine’s flavor and you want to really expand your palate, a wine chiller will be your best friend as they’re designed to improve the quality of your wine.
In short, a wine chiller is a no-brainer for anyone who drinks every weekend or every day or even someone who is interested in exploring the world of wine more seriously. So if you’ve come to the conclusion you do need a wine chiller, here is everything you need to consider (other than just how it looks).
What to Consider When Buying a Wine Chiller
Now that you’ve decided you need a wine chiller, there are a few things to consider to make sure you buy the right one for your needs. This includes taking into consideration the size of the chiller, where you’re going to store the chiller, and what type of chiller to buy.
Size & Space
When we talk about size and space we’re referring to both the wine chiller and where you’re storing it. Wine chillers come in a variety of sizes and capacities so you can buy the right chiller for your needs. If you’re just starting out and have a collection of about 10 bottles, we recommend an 18 bottle wine chiller such as this one from Maximus as this gives you enough room to still grow your collection without having too much wasted space. A good rule of thumb is to get a wine chiller that will hold about 25-50% more than what you currently have.
You also need to take into account your own personal space. Where do you plan on storing your wine chiller? In your kitchen? In your living room? On top of something? Inside a cabinet? Knowing the answers will help you decide whether to opt for a free-standing or a built-in chiller. It’ll also help you gauge how big of a chiller you can get. For instance, if you’re buying a wine chiller for your condo unit in Makati you probably don’t have the space for a 170-bottle wine chiller. However, if you plan on building your collection or you're shopping for your hotel or restaurant, an 18 bottle wine chiller might be too small.
Thermoelectric or Compressor?
When you’re shopping for wine chillers you might come across the terms “thermoelectric” and “compressor.” These refer to the type of cooling system the wine chiller uses. Whilst the former uses electrical currents, the latter works much like a regular fridge by using coolants. Each has their pros and cons so deciding which one to buy will be down to your personal preferences.
Thermoelectric wine chillers use the Peltier effect to produce a thermal flux, bringing hot air from one side to the other and using an internal fan evenly distributes the cool air. These are free-standing units that are vibration free and since they don’t use refrigerants are more environmentally friendly to operate. However, they often don’t get as cold as compressor units as the internal temperature is influenced by the external temperature.
Compressor wine chillers on the other hand use refrigerants and as such have a more powerful cooling capacity than thermoelectric options. This makes them perfect for storing white wines and larger bottles. However, they tend to be noisier (like a regular fridge) than thermoelectric units and give off small vibrations that could be an issue if you plan on storing your wine for years to come. These chillers are also more often built-in so they can cost more to install.
As a note, all wine chillers available on winery.ph are currently compressor units as these work best with our climate.
Single Zone or Dual Zone?
Not only do wine chillers have different cooling systems but they can also come with different zones: single zone or dual zone. What does this mean? It essentially means that your wine chiller can either have one single temperature or you can set two separate temperatures. So how do you know which one you need?
The easiest way to know is to look at your own collection. Do you have a lot of one type of wine or do you stock a variety of wines? If the latter then you should consider investing in a dual zone wine chiller. This will provide the optimal temperatures regardless of what wine you’re storing. However, if you favor reds more than white or vice versa then a single zone wine chiller will work just fine.
So now if you’ve decided what wine chiller to buy, what else do you need to know?
Loading & Organizing Your Wine Chiller
Loading your wine chiller properly is the best way to ensure not only the quality of your wine, but the quality of your wine chiller. Each chiller has a listing stating how many bottles it can hold at a given time. This is based on the number of standard 750ml bottles. It’s important to avoid going over the max capacity as this can overload the shelves and prevent the wines from cooling properly.
If your bottles are either smaller or bigger than 750ml, you can take into account the amount of ml your chiller can hold. For example, if your chiller’s capacity is 18 bottles that means it can hold 13,500ml of wine.
Keeping your wine chiller organized is another factor to consider. Whilst you can organize it however you want, there’s nothing worse than forgetting about a bottle of wine you’ve been saving only for it to pass its prime. We recommend organizing by color, then by style, then by sparkling. If you have the space you can also consider organizing by vintage. This will make it easy to always find what you’re looking for, and avoid forgetting about those prized bottles at the back.
Wine Chiller Maintenance
The final point to remember is maintenance. Just like any appliance, wine chillers need regular maintenance in order to operate efficiently. While there are special technicians who can help with the maintenance or with any repairs, there are some easy things you can do at home. One is defrosting — just like a regular fridge, your wine chiller might collect snow-like materials over time. If you let these collect it can prevent your chiller from operating properly and can also damage your chiller.
The easiest way to do this? Simply unplug your chiller, remove your wines, remove the shelves (if you can) and let the ice melt. Once it’s melted simply wipe away with a towel and when everything is dry you can place your shelves and wine back inside and plug it in. You should try to do this at least once a year but instructions from the manufacturer will also tell you how often you should do this depending on the unit you have.
Need someone to check on your wine chiller? Any wine chillers sold on winery.ph come with 1 year full service and unit warranty and we can help organize maintenance for any unit you have bought from us!
What Wine Chillers are Available on Winery.ph?
Just like with our wines, we only stock wine chiller that will work in the Philippines climate. Currently we have a few options from well-loved brands such as Dometic, Vintec, and Maximus. No matter what your budget is, or what your needs are, you can find a wine chiller to match your needs. Below are some of our best sellers.
Don't see what you're looking for? Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can try to help you find your perfect wine chiller. Or if you have a question we didn't answer, send us an email and we'll get back to you asap.