A wine cellar is a ‘must have’ for any true collector of fine wines. When you hear the term cellar you tend to think of a dark underground room with racks and racks of dusty old bottles, unfortunately not all of us live in a castle or a mansion. Luckily there are wine aficionados out there who have solved our problems for us.
A wine cellar is a very similar appliance to a wine refrigerator. A wine refrigerator is designed to chill your wine and maintain it at a perfect service temperature. A wine cellar maintains storage temperature of about 55°F which can be different than the serving temperature. A wine cellar also controls humidity at a perfect level which will prevent the cork from drying out or molding. A proper wine cellar should maintain a humidity level of 50 – 70%, the average wine refrigerator is typically below 50% humidity.
Long term storage of wine in your household refrigerator is not a good place as the household fridge is too cold and has temperature fluctuations every time the door is opened to remove its content. To maintain its integrity wine must be kept in stable conditions. A garage or closet might be a slightly better storage solution, but your bottle will still be susceptible to temperature and humidity variations.
A wine refrigerator is fine for wines that will only be kept for about two years. Any longer than that and you run the risk of spoiling the wine. Most wine refrigerators are susceptible to vibration. They run on a vapor compression system, when the compressor activates the refrigerator is vibrated a small amount. Even this small amount of vibration can disturb the sediment in the bottle which can ruin a bottle for long-term storage. A wine cellar is built to protect itself and remain vibration-free.
If you are going to be a serious wine collector then it is best to get yourself a wine cellar, but if the wine will be consumed within about two years a wine refrigerator is fine. If the wine is only going to remain in your presence to a matter of days the household refrigerator or a simple wine holder is more than adequate. Decide what you plan to do with the wine before you make a huge investment on something you might not need.