Most people know two facts about wine: that certain wines must be aged to achieve peak quality and that wine must be stored at the correct manner in order to maintain and fully enjoy its aroma and bouquet. However, few can actually understand the science behind wine aging and thus underestimate the importance of proper storage techniques.
Because wine is a complex balance of amino acids, phenols, carbohydrates, and other chemical compounds, chemical reactions between these compounds can be affected by environmental changes. Seeing as the speed of a chemical reaction increases with temperatures, wine will hardly age if stored at or below 50°F. However, once a bottle of wine is stored at room temperature, years of aging will be accelerated in just months or even weeks. As such, one could say that temperature stability is the mainstay of wine storage.
For the most part, most wines available today are of the “ready-to-drink" variety, but these can be safely stored for a few years by following these conditions:
- Away from sunlight
- At temperatures between 40° F and 65°F, depending on the type of wine
- Humidity levels greater than 50%
If wine is stored outside of these limits, it will be subject to spoilage or premature aging. With that said, proper wine storage is imperative. While the first two of the above conditions can be easily met by the average wine drinker, the last one should be met with some type of cellar, wine cabinet, or wine cooler. Most people don't have the luxury of building home cellars, so that's when a wine cooler comes in.
There are many different models and types of wine coolers available, but when choosing one that will best suit your needs, first determine how many bottles you will be chilling at once, then add more capacity to allow for a growing collection. Secondly, figure out what types of wine you will be storing. If you only drink Chardonnay, a wine cooler with a single temperature zone will do. However, if you enjoy both reds and whites, you'll need a wine refrigerator with at least 2 zones.
With that said, our product team has been busy testing out some of the newest wine coolers on the market today. Some of the best known wine cooler manufacturers are Franklin Chef, Avanti, and Amcor, but there's another contender on the wine cooler market: NewAir. Primarily known for their line of portable air conditioners, NewAir's new wine coolers are surprisingly affordable, yet feature several bonuses that you'll usually find in pricier units. We tested the new NewAir AW-211ED wine cooler and here's what we thought:
Style and Design:
The NewAir AW-211ED was definitely esthetically pleasing and housed in a sleek, black cabinet with stainless steel door. It's surprisingly compact given its large bottle capacity, and comes with an easy-to-control digital panel with LED light for precise temperature settings. The racks within the cooler are made out of heavy-duty, yet modern-looking chrome, and there was even an internal LED light that increased visibility and provided a nice glow.
Despite its tower design and space-saving body, the NewAir AW-211ED had a large capacity and was able to hold 21 bottles of our favorite vintages. This was more than enough for us home wine drinkers.
There are generally two types of wine cooling technology out there: compressor and thermoelectric. Compressors seem to be a bit dated, as most people nowadays are looking to thermoelectric coolers. Because thermoelectric wine coolers do not have many moving parts, they do not vibrate and are quiet. Furthermore, because thermoelectric wine coolers such as the NewAir AW-211ED are better at storing and aging wine because they cause less sedimentation that can occur with vibration.
Dual Zone Cooling Chambers:
As mentioned, if you're storing more than one type of wine, you'll need a wine cooler with at least two temperatures. Dual temperature wine coolers have upper and lower cabinets that are independently refrigerated chambers with separate temperature control capabilities. The NewAir AW-211ED utilized dual zones and allowed us to chill our bottles of Cabernet and Riesling at once.
Overall, we were really impressed with the NewAir AW-211ED thermoelectric wine cooler. Not only did it perform as well as advertised, it was also priced at less than $200, making it a steal.
More Information on the NewAir AW-211ED Wine Cooler: http://www.air-n-water.com/product/AW-211ED.htm
Jeanie Wong is a marketing writer and oenophile with extensive knowledge of wine coolers and other home appliances.