Wine Coolers

Written by Linda Alexander
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Wine coolers, in their most basic sense, consist of buckets filled with ice meant to chill wine before serving. Wine coolers can also be thought of as small appliances for keeping wine at the perfect serving temperature. Wine cellars are another storage solution meant to control both temperature and humidity of wine for perfect serving and to keep your wine away from light. Whether you enjoy a simple table wine once in a while or a fine wine aged to perfection, you'll find it gets its best flavor when kept at the proper temperature and humidity.

Ideally, wine is stored in a wine cellar, which is more than a refrigerator. It keeps the temperature constant and controls humidity. Most wine is best stored at about 55°F and about 70 percent humidity.

Your food refrigerator is probably too cold for this purpose, and the temperature fluctuates whenever you open it. Those fluctuating temperatures can destroy wine over time by causing chemical reactions that ruin the taste. Also, if stored in a food refrigerator, your wine can pick up flavors from the food that surrounds it.

Storing Wine for Best Aging and Taste

Wine should be stored on its side to keep the cork moist from the inside. If it is allowed to dry out it can shrink, allowing air in to ruin the wine. Humidity also affects the taste, which is why wine cellars control humidity as well as temperature.

Wine likes to be stored under high humidity, again keeping the cork moist and the seal tight. This is not a myth, and keeping a simple wine rack on your countertop or refrigerator can actually destroy the wine's flavor. In most climates, the ideal environment needs to be artificially enhanced with wine coolers.

A wine cellar need not be an underground room. Wine coolers that also control humidity are ideal and come in many sizes, styles, and price points to fit your collection. If you happen to have a cool, dark room that doesn't see a lot of temperature fluctuations, you can use this as your cellar and add custom shelving to the room. If it's not cool or humid enough, you can install a cooling system, turning the whole room into a wine cellar.

Long and Short Term Storage Ideas

Most Americans open their wine shortly after purchasing it, so you might not have a need for long-term storage. In these cases, your kitchen refrigerator or a countertop wine cooler will suffice. However, as with other fine beverages, we as a nation are becoming increasingly sophisticated about our taste in wine. Those who like to collect and age fine wines to perfection have a definite need for a long-term storage solution at ideal conditions.

Home stores, online merchants, and wine purveyors all sell different types of coolers. If you have enough room and plan on building a collection of vintages, having a custom-built or walk-in cellar might be an option. This is probably the most expensive way to go, but if you're a real connoisseur, it is money well spent. In addition to these long term solutions, you can always use another bucket or decanter for entertaining at home, or an insulated travel tote for enjoying wine on a picnic. When giving wine as a gift, consider including a small cooler, decorative decanter, or high-end corkscrew to accompany your gift.

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