The first day of the spring equinox is March 20th and even though it’s a couple of weeks (and snow storms) away, winemakers around the world from Mount Etna to the Finger Lakes to the Colchagua Valley are extending their wine choices at Barrel Tastings and Food & Wine Festivals.  Spring is a transitional time for wine enthusiasts whose rosés and gossamer whites beckon summer and powerful reds still warm against winter’s residual chill.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just enjoy a glass or two during the week, having dedicated wine storage in the comfort of your own home can come in handy and, at times, even protect your investment. But what is the best way to keep your wine chilled without having it take up too much space in your fridge?

Two of the most popular wine refrigeration options are the undercounter beverage center and the wine cooler. If you’re new to at-home wine storage, here are some helpful tips on finding the right appliance for your needs.

Under your service
Undercounter beverage centers are built-in units that can fit into those tight kitchen spaces or, as the name implies, under your bar counter. These appliances have a front-facing vent that pushes heat forward and away from the units, which allows them to be melded into existing cabinets and counters. Undercounter beverage centers can come in a variety of sizes, with many models able to hold up to 57 wine bottles as well as storage for regular cans and bottles.  Smaller ones can typically store around 30 bottles. Because of their compact design and capability to be built in to other kitchen appliances and cabinets, these beverage centers are great for those who want to add a functional piece to their kitchen while also maintaining the room’s stylish aesthetic.  A popular choice is the Sub Zero UC24C.

Although their main usage is to be built into cabinets, most of these units are also able to stand alone, making them a uniquely versatile appliance.  We’ve seen several customers integrate the Summit SCR600BLSH into their home entertainment centers and man-caves.

Cool yourself
The other popular refrigeration choice for wine enthusiasts is a wine cooler. One major difference between wine coolers and undercounter beverage centers is that the former is traditionally a free-standing appliance with shelf space designed for the wine bottle. Some wine coolers feature vents at the back of the unit, so that’s where the heat will radiate out. If a free-standing wine cooler is installed under a counter, for example, it may overheat the unit. As a result, the cooler won’t be able to chill your wine, so you’ll most likely be left with a lukewarm glass of Pinot Grigio.

Wine coolers do an excellent job at not only maintaining optimal temperatures for chilling wine but also aging wine. Many coolers are specially designed to age wine over long-term storage, bringing out its full taste in the process. Most models are also outfitted in either solid metal or glass doors with built-in light protection as a way to guard against the potential dangers of natural or fluorescent light.  Some models also include magnum storage.  The U-line and Marvel lines are popular selling models and include the Marvel 30WCMBSGL.

What’s best for me?
Before choosing between an undercounter beverage center and a wine cooler, you must carefully think about location. If you already have a bar in your home, then a beverage center may be a great addition. Not only will it save you room in your liquor cabinet, but it will also be tucked out of sight, so you don’t have to worry about matching your existing décor. If you are building out a wine cellar, entertainment area or realize that your existing cabinet space would be better served by a dedicated wine cooler, you can find wine coolers from 15 to 30 inches wide.

In addition to location, you need to consider how much wine you want to store. Traditionally, wine coolers were on the smaller side, typically storing anywhere between 18 and 32 bottles. If you have a large wine collection – and know that it’s only going to get bigger – then consider investing in a beverage center like the Sub-Zero 427G.

In our showroom in New Jersey, we display several wine coolers and beverage centers and we are happy to walk customers through different choices. Since the groundhog was a lost cause this year and we’re convinced we’ll never see spring crocuses again, we filled the magnum shelf in our working wine cooler hoping to pop the cork if we ever see spring again.

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