A wine refrigerator, also called a wine cooler, is made especially to chill your wine to the perfect serving temperature for great taste every time.
Ideally wine is stored in a "wine cellar" -- an appliance very similar although it controls humidity too. Wine is best stored at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), but some wines taste better served at cooler temperatures. A wine refrigerator is intended to chill the wine to the correct temperature for serving. However, if you want to use it for storage you can compromise a little on the temperature.
The kitchen refrigerator in your home is probably set too cold for most wine, but more importantly, the temperature fluctuates every time it's opened. If you have a family, that can be often! Wine requires a constant temperature to maintain its integrity, and keeping it in poor conditions can cause chemical reactions that spoil the taste. Storing it in a garage or closet where the temperature swings is also not a good idea.
A wine refrigerator is the answer to protecting your investment whether you enjoy simple dinner wine or a fine Cabernet.
Rich, red, and full-bodied wines are best served between 59-66 degrees Fahrenheit (15-19 degrees Celsius). If you're going to be using your wine refrigerator to store it, choosing a temperature at the lower range will give you the best results.
If light red wines are your passion you're in luck, as 55F (13C) is a great temperature for both storing and serving these wines.
Blush, rose and dry white wines are normally served between 46-57F (8-14C). If you will be using your wine refrigerator to chill them, you can choose the temperature you prefer. If using it both for storing and chilling, stay as close to 55F (13C) as possible.
Sparkling wines and champagne tend to taste best at 43-47F (6-8C). In this case you can set the wine refrigerator as such and simply consider drinking the champagne sooner rather than storing it for extended periods.
Wine should be laid on its side to keep the cork moist so that it doesn't dry out and shrink, which can allow air in the bottle and ruin the wine. Humidity also plays a part in storing wine, which is why a wine cellar controls humidity. Some wine cellars come with 3 different temperature zones: 1 zone for storage (also good for light red wines), 1 for chilling white wines, and 1 for chilling sparkling wines; essentially combining a cellar with a wine refrigerator. When you are going to drink a bottle you can take it out of the storage section and put it in the appropriate temperature zone. This type of wine cellar is close to the size of a standard refrigerator and can cost about $2000 U.S. dollars.
A wine refrigerator can fit under the counter or in a corner and will take up little room. A small 6-bottle model is even made to sit on top of the counter, at about $100 dollars. Some models have control buttons for either red or white wine that will set the proper temperature for you. A 20-bottle unit of this type will cost a few hundred dollars. There are also much larger models.
A wine refrigerator will protect your bottles from the odors of other foods, and against vibrations that can both spoil wine. When properly stored, wine not only maintains its quality but can improve in bouquet and flavor as it ages. For anyone who really appreciates the fine taste of wine, a wine refrigerator is an investment that will pay off every time you open a bottle!