If you love wine as much as we do, the wine fridge is your greatest ally. It keeps your bottles in top condition for weeks, months, and even year. But like all the things that run in your house, it has its major ups and downs, leaving you sometimes annoyed and even frustrated. So, don’t wait until you’re left wishing you knew more about your wine refrigerator. Get to know these top 7 things that you can do to get your fridge running in tip-top shape.
Regular fridge or wine fridge, there’s a difference
First thing’s first. Let’s make this clear. There’s a huge difference between your kitchen fridge and a wine fridge. Wine fridges are appliances made specifically to store wines at their required temperature and humidity. A regular refrigerator doesn’t have a uniform temperature inside because you keep opening it up to get other food items. Those food can also contaminate your wine, especially when a bottle’s already been opened. Also, a wine fridge doesn’t vibrate compared to the regular refrigerator. Aside from being a little too noisy at night, fridge vibration accelerates a bottle’s aging process and causes other negative effects to its overall taste.
Humidity is key
The relative humidity should be kept from 60 to 80% because if it’s too high, mold and mildew pop up. And if it’s too low, it damages a bottle’s cork. Cork is made from a tree’s bark, and yes, it does degrade over time because when it’s exposed to air, it loses its moisture. But sooner or later, when the cork dries out too much, it shrinks and cracks. This leaves the wine inside exposed to oxidize and to eventually spoil. Don’t worry though, your wine doesn’t get ruined overnight, so go ahead and check your unit’s settings. It’s a good thing that modern wine fridges are built specifically to keep humidity under control.
Work with the vent
Examine where the fridge’s ventilation is placed. Is it on the front or back? Getting this little nugget of wisdom is important because it can make or break location decisions. Wine fridges have vents that suck in air from the room and spew out hot air. They need breathing room to work at maximum efficiency. You have to know where they’re located, so you won’t be putting your unit in a place where the vent is smothered in its own warm air. For example, under-the-counter fridges are front-vented fridges because its vent forces out hot air out in an open space under your counter. It also needs 4-6 inches of space if it’s backed up into a surface. So, consider your vents when finding a good place for your unit – which brings us to our next tip…
Set up a good location
Saying that you need a good place to put your wine fridge is a total understatement. Setting up a spot where your unit can thrive takes a lot of thinking and some foresight. Aside from its vent, you have to consider temperature in the room and the appliances in it. Your fridge must have a big enough place to expel hot air and take in cooler air freely, so don’t confine it inside a cabinet or a closet. Do not place your unit in your garage. The garage’s temperature goes up and down too fast and too easily making your unit’s cooler work double time, shortening its lifespan. The same thing happens if you place your wine fridge near dishwashers, driers, other fridges, ovens and even washing machines. These appliances can get hot affecting the cooler.
Hide it from the sun
Literally. The amount of sunlight that hits the room damages your wine. The heat and the UV rays degrade it and age it prematurely. So, pick out a darker area, preferably a place where there’s no window nearby. Don’t worry about turning the lights off your fridge though, those are specially designed to be wine-friendly.
As we’ve mentioned (possibly several times, but we lost count), temperature can affect your bottles greatly. Too much heat spoils wine. It also ‘cooks’ it making it develop odd flavors you wouldn’t want to taste. Meanwhile, a steep drop in temperature causes it to freeze as well. This makes it expand, cracking the cork and the bottle leaving it exposed and be oxidized.
Some fridges are built with two separate zones. This is great for reds and whites that have different temperature requirements. You might want to set 50°F for white wine and about 58°F for its red counterpart. Other bottles need have to be stored at different temperatures. You can read about them online.
Don’t overload your unit
If you’re not that much of a collector, then it’s fine. But, if you’re planning to accumulate a lot of bottles and cram them into your fridge, then stop right there! Overloaded units can have temperature control malfunctions which might cause wine spoilage and a shorter lifespan for the fridge itself. Most fridges are made for 750 mL wines in the Bordeaux style. If you’re planning to expand your collection, buy a unit with a large capacity, and fill it up later on.