Wine storage has always fascinated me. When America discovered wine in the 90's, factories scrambled to find suitable products. Wine refrigerators seemingly popped out of nowhere, but essentially they were regular refrigerators with wine racks inside.
It's pretty sensible for companies to use existing products to satisfy a totally different market. It is, however, not practical to someone who appreciates wine. Wine is very different than most consumables. Because it is a living grape, wine needs to be stored properly. It will react to light, temperature, vibration and humidity. Any changes will alter the complexion and the taste.
The only companies to truly address the complexities of storing wine are Sub-Zero and U-Line. Both are similar American companies focused primarily on refrigeration.
Sub-Zero is a third generation company based out of Madison. They were the originators of the shallow depth commercial style refrigerator with two compressors as well as the air scrubber and numerous other refrigerator enhancements designed to keep food fresher. They were the first to design a better wine unit based on the unique requirements of storing wine.
U-Line is in its 50th year of manufacturing undercounter refrigerators and icemakers. Founded in Milwaukee by Henry Uihlein, U-Line has patented and designed the combination icemaker/refrigerator, DC icemaker for marine and numerous other niche undercounter refrigeration products. Like Sub-Zero, U-Line has produced a better wine cooler. U-Lline has many models and prices, the 2275 is their best unit.
Both Sub-Zero and U-Line have a bronze tinted door designed to keep harmful UV from damaging the tannins of the wine. Both also address temperature concerns by having two independent zones with digital thermostats. Both also gasket the door to eliminate temperature crossover.
Sub-Zero does have a few other advantages, especially in vibration control. The racks glide on rollers, and gliding racks eliminate vibration. The compressor is on rubber grommits, which dampens vibration when the compressor is turned on.
Lastly, Sub-Zero uses low voltage, indirect lighting, where as U-Line uses a 60 watt light bulb on the top of each zone. Placing a hot light source over wine is not a good idea for the longevity of the wine.
Read a Yale Buyers Guide, packed with information on different aspects of home improvement. Well over 12,000 people have read a Yale Guide. Some of my favorites: