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Wine Cabinet Shopping Tips

Karen Frazier
Wine Cabinets

Wine cabinets aren't wine fridges or wine racks; they're wine furniture. The cabinets allow you to keep your wine and wine gear in a stylish piece you'll be proud to display. Most offer a limited amount of refrigerated or non-refrigerated storage for a few to several bottles of wine, so they're excellent for short-term storage of wines.

Wine Cabinets Versus Wine Racks

Wine cabinets differ from wine racks, but they may share similar features. Wine racks are intended as either visible or hidden wine storage, and they are made to hold wine bottles. They usually contain open shelving that holds wine bottles in the ideal position and are meant to be placed in wine closets, on the countertop, in wine cellars, or elsewhere in your home. Wine cabinets, on the other hand, are stand-alone pieces of furniture. They usually have an attractive wood finish, and they contain either open racks for your wine bottles or a closed cabinet to hold them. Wine cabinets also have storage space for other wine-related items as well, such as corkscrews and wine glasses. While some wine cabinets do have temperature and humidity control, others are simple pieces of furniture.

Advantages of Wine Cabinets

Wine cabinets have a few different advantages over other types of wine storage:

  • The cabinets are attractive and can be placed anywhere in your home.
  • They come in a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes so you can find one to suit your personal style.
  • Non-refrigerated units are stand-alone pieces of furniture that are great for short-term wine storage.
  • They don't require plugs (unless they have lighting or temperature/humidity control) or electricity to chill the wine.
  • They offer a stylish solution for an overflow of wine bottles and other wine paraphernalia.
  • They hold the wine in the ideal position to keep the cork moist.
  • Wine cabinets without temperature control are a decent solution for a small collection of 20 or so bottles of inexpensive wine you plan to drink in the next year or two.
  • If you buy a wine cabinet with temperature and humidity control, it's a great long-term storage solution for valuable bottles of wine.
  • They often include storage for wine accessories, so it can free cabinet space in your kitchen.

Disadvantages of Wine Cabinets

For serious wine collectors, non-refrigerated wine cabinets aren't always the best type of storage. They have other disadvantages as well.

  • Wine cabinets are often not temperature or humidity controlled. If they aren't, they won't work well as long-term wine storage.
  • Non-temperature controlled cabinets tend to be at the mercy of ambient temperature, light, and vibrational conditions, so if they're placed in the wrong spot, it can spell disaster for your wine.
  • They have a limited amount of storage space.
  • They tend to have a really high storage cost, which is calculated as cost per bottle to store wine.
  • Unless you buy a wine cabinet with temperature and humidity control, they're not a good storage solution for collectible, aged, or expensive bottles of wine.

Placing Your Wine Cabinet

Where you place your wine cabinet can help determine its suitability as longer-term wine storage. Unless they come with temperature and humidity control or are placed in a temperature controlled wine cellar or closet, they won't be ideal for any type of wine storage beyond a year or two. However, you can place bottles of wine you plan to drink within the next six months to a year in your wine cabinet. Even with wines you don't intend to age, it's best to take care with where you place your wine rack to keep your wines from being ruined before their time.

Bottles of wine on a wooden shelf
  • Place it out of direct sunlight because the temperature fluctuations and UV light can damage wine.
  • Don't place it in the path of a heating duct or air conditioning vent.
  • Don't place it near something that vibrates a lot. For example, don't put it in your laundry room or next to the furnace or air pump. Vibration can damage wine.
  • Don't place it in a room or spot that has rapid temperature fluctuations.
  • Don't place it in a room that is kept at about 70 to 75°F or at a room that is cooler than about 50°F.
  • Keep it away from appliances that emit heat, such as your refrigerator or range.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Wine Cabinet

When you're shopping for a wine cabinet, your first consideration is typically budget and style. However, keep the following in mind, as well.

  • Consider the size and number of bottles the cabinet will store.
  • Make sure the cabinet racks are big enough to fit the types of wine you'll store there. Slots that are 3¾ inches high are ideal because they'll fit 750 mL bottles and magnums.
  • Make sure the cabinet will hold wine bottles on their side.
  • If you do purchase a temperature/humidity controlled unit, make sure it is well-insulated to keep wine at optimum temperatures.
  • Measure the space you have to make sure the cabinet will fit there. If you're purchasing a refrigerated wine cabinet, remember that although it looks like furniture, it will fit into a space like a refrigerator and will require clearance from the wall and ceiling to cool properly.
  • Make sure the cabinet is well built and sturdy. Avoid cabinets that seem rickety or that are made from materials that don't hold up such as pressboard.

Where to Buy Wine Cabinets

You can usually find non-refrigerated wine cabinets anywhere furniture is sold. In fact, some furniture suites have a matching wine cabinet if matching your furniture is important to you.

  • Wine Enthusiast has an array of armoire and shelf-style wine bars and cabinets.
  • For a non-refrigerated cabinet, look at Bed, Bath & Beyond, which has a selection of attractive furniture cabinets perfect for the dining room.
  • Le Cache has an array of attractive refrigerated wine cabinets that offer the perfect balance between function and form.
  • If you're looking for a custom solution, then Vinotemp can help. They create custom wine cabinets built to your taste and specifications.

Is a Wine Cabinet for You?

Wine cabinets may offer a good solution to people with small collections of wine who want their wine storage to also be on display as part of the furniture. With refrigerated and non-refrigerated options, chances are if this type of wine storage appeals to you, there's a design that will suit your needs.

Wine Cabinet Shopping Tips