Friday, October 21, 2011

Wine Refrigerator

Glenn K.  (previously known as Violet), asked about my wine refrigerator in a comment she posted earlier.  I did post my own comments, but just in case they get lost in the plethora of posts lately, here's more on the refrigerator, in case others want to know.  Using a post to do this allows me to give the pros and cons on the one I have.

I bought a Whynter 21-Bottle Dual Zone on ebay.  It is electronically cooled, no refrigerant.  After some thought, I decided on this one for the following reasons:
  • I have a small dorm sized refrigerator that I tried to regulate using a timer and a temperature probe.  This method is purported to work and there are kits available.  But the temperature was too variable.
  • I settled on a dual zone because ageing and storing cheeses use two different temperatures.  Most of the long term ageing is at 40-45 degrees F.  Initial ageing is at 50-55 degrees F, and sometimes as high as 60F.
  • The Whynter was one of the smallest and least expensive of the dual zone models.  I didn't want to dive in and buy a $500 - $800, or higher priced model, without having some experience with a less expensive model so that I would know what to look for if I decided to upgrade eventually.  This one is in the $350 range.  But on ebay, I got it for $175 because it was cosmetically damaged (the back corner and back panel were slightly dented)
  • The wine racks are completely removable, so I could put the plastic ageing container in easily.
For what I intended, this one works rather well.  The main drawback was that the inside was slightly narrower than the ageing container I purchased with my cheese making kit, by about 1/2 an inch.  So I had to buy new containers that would fit, then trim the plastic racks and mats for the containers.  That was a hassle finding the perfect size.  Now the container is just barely big enough to hold 2 four inch rounds of Brie or Stilton.  I'd prefer to have a little more air circulation around the cheeses in the container, but it works.    It's also too small to have more than two ageing containers in the 50-55F zone at one time.  I use the even smaller 40-45F zone for long term ageing of cheeses once they are wrapped.  So far, that zone is big enough for what I intended.

As far as temperature control, it's perfect.  I can set the temperature for each zone and leave it be.  I'm not constantly fussing with a modification to a regular refrigerator.  As far as humidity control in the container, I had used a GE thermometer/hygrometer with remote sensor.  I put the sensor in the ageing container to monitor the humidity.  I have since given that up because there just isn't any room now in the smaller ageing container I am forced to use.  I just judge the humidity by how much moisture beads on the lid of the container, or whether the surface of the cheese is wet, slimy, or sticky.

So, the only complaint I have is the size.  I believe that someday, I may buy a larger wine refrigerator.  But it will have the features that this one has.

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