25 years ago you could have picked the number of wine cabinet suppliers in the UK on one hand. The high street retailers maybe offered one or two models but never showcased them in their department store showrooms. A few select specialists, most of whom still operate today, were and still are your best choice for advice and selection.
Today, every major appliance manufacturer has a wine cabnet range and it is almost becoming a standard appliance included in any new kitchen scheme. The UK wine market is worth over £13bn and there's never been such a high demand for wine cabinets within the home. The high street retailers in your local town now offer a range of cabinets and provide you with advice (normally read straight from the instruction or training booklet!) and they will usually steer you towards the manufacturer that offers them the most commission. They are not experts in wine storage nor will they provide you with best models available for your particular collection. So be aware! A wine fridge might sound like the latest status symbol or must-have item and there are some very sleek looking models out there ... but be careful as what you are getting is probably a fridge that you put wine in - not a cabinet that is designed specifically for storing and serving wine.
Therefore Seegir has put together our own guide to help you make the correct choice, after all, from our experience of the wine cabinets we offer, you should only be making this choice once every 20 years or so. Choosing to purchase a wine cabinet (not a wine fridge!) first and foremost means you have realised that your wine collection requires a stable environment to ensure you achieve the best conditions to store it in and protect it. You have invested heavily in your wine, so you should make a carefully considered decision on your wine cabinet, hopefully this guide from Seegir will help.
Budget: The first consideration is your budget - we always ask our customers to consider the value of their wine collection first and foremost as this normally provides a good insight into the overall spend they would be willing to pay for the correct wine storage. There is no definitive guide - x% on a wine cabinet if your wine is valued at £X - it really is down to the individual. Determining value in anything is a subjective matter, in particular wine!
Usage: Secondly you need to consider what function you require the wine cabinet to have - is it for long term storage? is it for serving temperatures or ageing? is it to be a showpiece in your home? is to be kept under lock and key hidden away? These factors can very much influence the decision you make on the type of cabinet, it's overall look and which features are important.
Capacity: Next we would advise you to look at the size of your collection and this in effect will narrow down your options on which cabinet or cabinets can accomodate the bottle capacity you require. Most manufacturers rate their capacity on the Bordeaux style bottle, being a slimmer and easier bottle to store on shelves. If your collection includes considerable quantities of champagne or Bordeaux style bottles then be prepared for less capacity on what the official levels claim (due to wider bottles). Also consider the future: is your collection at or nearing drinking age, what percentage requires longer term storage and what are your plans for adding to it in the future? Purchasing more than one cabinet may be the best option if you have big expansion plans for your wine collection for the future!
Now we drill down to the detail, so it gets more technical and specific in this next section of our guide:
1. Refrigeration system: compressor or thermoelectric? Seegir only advocates compressor systems - these are professional systems that guarantee a stable temperature within the cabinet, depsite fluctuating temperatures externally. Compressor based systems are more efficient than thermoelectric systems, in terms of performance and energy consumption. The downside is the cost but as we mentioned before, a thermoelectric system is probably included when you buy a wine fridge, or wine cooler or chiller as they are more frequently called these days. So to sum up, thermoelectric systems are cheap and used in basic wine fridges, they will not last as long as compressor based systems but more importantly will not guarantee a stable temperature controlled conditions for your wine.
2. Humidity regulation: many wine cabinets will claim to regulate humidity but there is no actual regulatory control to effect this, just the natural humidity achieved within the case and a lot of hope it meets the right level for storing wine. All of Seegir's wine cabinets ensure the correct humidity levels are always found within the cabinet (70-75%) with some systems allowing this to be regulated by the customer, others have this preset and monitored through an internal hygrostat. The correct humidity level is important: if too dry then the corks will dry out and shrink, allowing air to enter the bottle and oxidise the wine; if too damp then mould will ingress to the bottle through the cork ad ruin the wine, even a mouldy label can devalue your wine on resale. Most of our systems have a charcoal filter to further ensure the air within the cabinet is in perfect condition and will not contaminate the wine.
3. Shelving: Seegir's wine cabinet ranges have two very distinct style of shelving. Our Chambrair range have very basic metal shelves, wine friendly for laying wine down with no snags for catching labels etc. They are fixed in place and purposely so . . . the original founder of Chambrair did not want what he called 'gimmicky' pull out shelves as the priority of any wine cabinet should be to protect the wine - in his eyes, the shelf needed to be fixed to ensure the wine was hardly ever moved, as most connoisseurs will support that perfect ageing of wine is to ensure it is perfectly still. Our other ranges cater for those consumers that prefer the shelves to be wooden, pull out, soft close, presentation, angled, display - the list is endless!
4. Doors: a simple choice here - glass or solid door? Solid doors are more suited for non-display locations such as garages, storage areas, utility rooms etc. Glass doors are for those that wish to view the bottles from the outside, the only consideration here is to ensure the glass is UV protected as UV light entering through a glass door will harm the wine.
5. Location: if you are considering locating the wine cabinet in an outhouse, a garage or inside the house but in a small space with limited ventilation (such as a built in cupboard) then ensure you choose a cabinet that can cope with the changing ambient conditions experienced. Compressor based systems will be more robust to external climate change than their cheaper thermoelectric counterparts. If your wine cabinet is to be built in, some manufacturers offer built in models - these normally have the ventilation at the front at the bottom. The heat expelled from the refrigeration system's condenser needs to go somewhere - if it doesn't, the compressor works harder, ice builds up and the system will eventually seize - an expensive repair bill will be waiting for you! Most stand alone cabinets require a minimum 25mm gap to the back and top to allow sufficient discharge of the heat; built in models can do just that - be fully built-in so no gaps required.
6. Other considerations: there are other minor considerations to factor in - for instance, Seegir's Chambrair wine cabinets are noise rated at 15dBA which is incredibly low. If you are locating the wine cabinet in a prominent living space, the noise level of the compressor cutting in and out could be a crucial element in the decision making process. Other features that may affect your decision include if the cabinet is lockable or at the very least has a childproof door system; anti-vibration mounts to the compressor so there is no unnecessary virbrations through the cabinet and therefore through the wine bottles; does it visually display the temperature and/or humidity levels for your peace of mind; the parts guarantee and f there are any hidden callout and/or labour charges.
In conclusion, there is a lot to think about when purchasing wine cabinets, some of the considerations in Seegir's wine cabinet purchasing guide may or may not be of interest to you but we hope it provides you with an informative insight. Sometimes price is not the most important aspect, you have to look at the whole picture from general service levels, the advice you are given, the after sales support and the lifetime you can expect out of your cabinet. Seegir has Chambrair customers from over 25 years ago calling us with their first breakdown, most of which can be fully repaired.
At Seegir we offer you impartial advice without any hard sales tactic - our driving force is to ensure you source the correct cabinet for the individual requirements of your own wine collection. You can have peace of mind that our wine cabinets will cover all of the aspects in our guide fully, supported by our national after sales support network.