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I'm drinking more wine (Typically full-bodied reds, no whites) and have about 12 bottles around. Right now I'm buying for the 0-6 mos range, but could easily see myself storing wine as I get more into it.

I'm currently living in an apartment and can't justify spending $1000+ on a nice wine cellar. So, I'm trying to decide which is better...Getting a $100 - $300 wine cellar or storing the wine in rubbermaid crates in a closet.

I guess it really comes down to whether the temp/humidity is more important than light/vibration with regards to storing wine.


Secondly, are there any good software programs out there to help rate wines that you drink? I created a spreadsheet several years ago, but didn't keep it up and I think having a dedicated system would be a great benefit. The software could be based on a PDA, on my computer, or on the Internet...I'd be curious to know what people typically do to help them keep track of what they like or don't like.

Thanks!!!
Mike
Original Post
Get out of the wine thing while you can, turn around and run before it is too late. Just joking.

Seriously, regarding storage of wine, your collection will only grow in time. Invest in 40 bottle digital wine cellar (no air compressor, no vibrations) with smoked glass on the door to filter out sun. Use cellar for longer storage of wine. Use the Rubbermaid for shortage storage or drink em now wines.
IF you have MS access there is a download for wine template, lets you keep track of inventory, drink dates, sections for tasting notes, etc. Free and works for me!
I have a black book (kid you not) which I use for the stay away wines, which is all that I am truly concerned with while buying wine.
No compressor, eh? I take it the cheap ones will always have a compressor...Like this Igloo one from Lowes for $177: http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&pro...24-FRW655&lpage=none

Any idea what the MSACCESS template is called or where to find it?

I'm really hoping someone will tell me there's an awesome handheld device or PDA plug-in that I should get, honestly. It'd be nice to have something to use when I eat out and can look to see ratings, etc. Maybe I'd look like too much of a geek if I did that, though!!!
Wow...Signed up for Cellartracker. Didn't imagine that it would be FREE. I figured I'd have to pay to use it and ultimately I may depending on how much use I get out of it going forward.

So, I'll continue on with my questions. Thanks to all who have replied.

1) What is the cheapest brand of a wine cellar that doesn't use an air compressor?

2) What is considered to be the best site for reviews of wine, scores, and also will tell you when you should drink a wine? When something is drinkable may be something I learn at some point, but right now it is definitely a mystery to me. (Pay sites would be acceptable if they are worth while...)

Thanks again.
Mike
Myself, for drinkability, I use a combination of CT, winodepot, and WS, with more emphasis on CT/WD. For reviews, it is best to try some things and find a few people that you have similar palattes to. There are a couple people (WIML especially) that I can easily calibrate myself to.

Additionally, keep your eyes out on the boards for random 'wow' wines. Many people have raved about the 2003 Ramey Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, so I knew that it was an easy must-buy.

If you're only planning on keeping wine for about 6 months at a time, I'd personally suggest just putting it in a cooler closet and use that extra money for more wine.
Ok...I've decided to just go ahead and buy a thermoelectric cooler.

I've basically found three models that I'm considering:
Avanti 28-bottle ~$230
Edgestar 28-bottle ~$250
Urbina Design 28-bottle ~$230

Anyone have any experience or preferences? The Edgestar and Urbina Design have tinted glass. The Avanti has a better warranty. Urbina Design looks to be a tiny manufacturer...
You found value in sprnplr's first suggestion of using CellarTracker; I hope you can find similar value in his suggestion to just keep your wines in a cool(er) interior closet for the time being. Your 0-6 month drinking window for storing wines makes that fine.

Even if you were to find the absolute best available 28-bottle cooler on the market, you will quickly find it extremely limiting. Even if you were using it to store wines that could use just two-to-three years of bottle aging to settle down, you'd be limited to no more than a case a year.

Buying a small cooler might be a good investment if you're fairly certain that relying on off-site storage will be your best option down the road (and you'd just keep your ready-to-drink bottles on hand in the cooler). But it sounds like you're in a great situation right now to rely on a passive cellar (closet) for your needs right now and decide later about longer term storage solutions.
Well...As always, situations change and sometimes rapidly...I've already bought some wine that I'll be keeping for a few if not several years and therefore decided to go with the 28-bottle Thermoelectric EdgeStar.

Given that I already have 15 bottles, this isn't going to hold everything I have. I'm going to fill it and then just keep the "good" stuff in there. The rest I'll keep in the shipping styrofoam in a closet.

Ultimately I'll use the 28-bottle in conjunction with larger storage either on-site or off-site. Or I'll just sell it. Smile

My biggest challenge right now is to make myself stop buying wines. The combination of a new local wine shop that will have frequent tastings (local as in a short walking distance) and being tempted by wine.woot.com (I've bought their last three offerings) is dangerous!

Thanks for the comments!

Mike
quote:
My biggest challenge right now is to make myself stop buying wines.
Mike


Hint: this is not possible.

My wine habit began several years ago with styrofoam wine-shipping inserts in the basement. Today, I have an Avanti 100-bottle fridge in the dining room, and with the 3 bottles I bought on Woot yesterday, I will have officially run out of room. Make no mistake - it's not like I don't DRINK the stuff. A lot. It's just that I can't stop buying it.

I have my eye on a part of the basement for a future wine cellar. Mrs. Routerhead has her eye on the front lawn, where I suspect she's planning to throw my crap.
quote:
Originally posted by vaaccess:

My biggest challenge right now is to make myself stop buying wines. The combination of a new local wine shop that will have frequent tastings (local as in a short walking distance) and being tempted by wine.woot.com (I've bought their last three offerings) is dangerous!

Mike


Mike, welcome to the board and the world of wine. What part of Richmond do you live in? Maybe we could get together and open a bottle sometime.
quote:
Originally posted by Routerhead:
quote:
My biggest challenge right now is to make myself stop buying wines.
Mike


Hint: this is not possible.

My wine habit began several years ago with styrofoam wine-shipping inserts in the basement. Today, I have an Avanti 100-bottle fridge in the dining room, and with the 3 bottles I bought on Woot yesterday, I will have officially run out of room. Make no mistake - it's not like I don't DRINK the stuff. A lot. It's just that I can't stop buying it.

I have my eye on a part of the basement for a future wine cellar. Mrs. Routerhead has her eye on the front lawn, where I suspect she's planning to throw my crap.


Woot is evil...Every night if I'm up anywhere close to 1AM I'll hold out just to see what they are offering...The only thing I've bought so far is wine, but I'm sure at some point I'll jump on a regular Woot.

Having the Winemaker, etc, participate in the disucssion was really awesome, I hope it continues. Of course, I've spent a lot more than I antipicated ALREADY...When I look for a new house I'm definitely going to keep a cellar in mind!!!!
quote:
Originally posted by Longboarder:
quote:
Originally posted by vaaccess:

My biggest challenge right now is to make myself stop buying wines. The combination of a new local wine shop that will have frequent tastings (local as in a short walking distance) and being tempted by wine.woot.com (I've bought their last three offerings) is dangerous!

Mike


Mike, welcome to the board and the world of wine. What part of Richmond do you live in? Maybe we could get together and open a bottle sometime.


I'm up near Twin Hickory (west end)...Yeah, I'm always up for trying new wines...Of course right now I don't think my stash is anything stellar. Wink
quote:
Originally posted by Longboarder:
VA - What wines are you drinking? If you like Italian wines, then I can help.


You can see what I have on cellartracker.com, if you want...

But, I really enjoy a full wine that is spicy and peppery. Though, so far if it's a good wine that I've had I liked it. Now, what that specifically means???? I'm still working on it. Wink
To answer your question on when to drink wines here is my system which may work for you. First I buy a wine of age worthy quality (I reference several different sources like Sotheby's Enclopedia of Wine, Hugh Johnson Guides, Oz Clark & Steven Spurrier Guides, Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson). I taste the one bottle before the recommeded opening date over several days to see how the wine opens up over numerous days.

If it seems as though it is a wine I would enjoy in the future then I buy 4 or 6 more bottles to open in the future. I get such a thrill when I open a bottle of the wine every year or two years after and taste a difference in the wine as well as see a difference with my tasting notes. I know you mentioned a lack of space but, once you taste the difference for yourself you will begin to understand a whole new dimension to wine appreciation.
Tracy, welcome to the forum!

I'm a bit anal about my spelling as well, but on reading the posts around here you'll notice that typos and spelling errors are rampant and unimportant.

If it's something that interests you, navigate on over to the Off-Line Events forum and take a look at spo's thread on a possible tasting group for our area.

Oh, and you mis-spelled "recommended" too! Wink
I bought two Edgestars (one for red, one for white)about 6 months ago and have been pleased. I keep a small dish of water in mine and it keeps the humidity around 60-65%, not the ambient 28% in my home here in Colorado. I think that the size limit on the thermoelectric units is due to the ability of that kind of cooling technology to cool that large a volume of air. Hope they work out well for you!
va -

Thanks for starting this topic. I am more or less in the same situation -- small apartment, wine collection has blossomed from 10 to about 35 bottles in the last 6 months. About 5 of those probably need 1-3 years to mature, but I am sure that number will only grow.

Until now the "drink now" bottles have been in the living room in a wine rack/bar, and the others in a cardboard box in the bottom of the most isolated (form temp. changes) closet in the apartment.

Thanks to all of the advice here, I too am considering the Edgestar 28 bottle cooler. I would only keep reds for long periods, and if I got over 28 bottles I would seriously look at an off-site solution, so I think this should do for now. I am very interested to hear any follow-ups you have (or anyone else has) on the quality of this cooler.

Thanks again to all.
Kuhmanns:

I posted this on Wine.Woot.Com and I'll cut/paste them here for you...I think you might find value in it. BTW, I've had the cooler for a week or two now and love it. I had never had anything but room temperature red wine before and I seriously think drinking it slightly chilled is absolutely awesome! NEver would have guessed. Anyway, the fridge is working like a champ. Couldn't be happier.

Let me know what other questions I could answer, though I am definitely a newbie to this stuff...

***********
I recently did a lot of reading on wine coolers and posted my results on a previous wine's discussion thread, but I'll relay some of my findings and the final result.

First of all, wine should be stored in a vibration free, cool environment that is also dark. For reds, I believe the temp should be around 60-degrees...The long and short of it is that you can get Theremoelectric Wine Coolers that don't have a compressor. They don't cool as fast and I think they would not be as ideal for white wine because they might have a problem getting to a lower temp, but they'll work perfectly for red wines, which is all I drink. They also do a good job of circulating the temp inside the unit and typically have +/- 2 degrees from the bottom to the top...Whereas with a compressor unit the variance is greater I believe. Oh, the Thermoelectric ones are apparently silent.

The largest Theremoelectrics I found were 28-bottle units. There were three brands I found: Avanti, EdgeStar, and Urbina Design. Ultimately I went with the EdgeStar because it had tinted glass and an LED light that won't emmit very much heat nor be too bright and the EdgeStar also has wood racks instead of metal. the Avanti was cheapest and I found them for $220 or so shipped. The EdgeStar was $250 shipped. I bought it on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ih=005&item=150008866723

Second tidbit...I found a free site to keep track of the wines I'm buying and consuming: www.cellartracker.com . I have found it to be very practical to use and have gotten a few friends on it. The site would likeyou to donate if you like the service and it looks like I'll be doing that since I'm already enjoying it.

Third tidbit...You can get a subsription to Wine Spectator off of eBay for much less than you can anywhere else. Once you have the subscription running, you can buy an online subscription for 50% off, which I will be doing.

Fourth tidbit...I typically don't drink an entire bottle of wine. And, I hate drinking wine that is even a day old...I usually find that it starts to taste bad in short order. I have one of those rubber corks that you can pump the air out with, but it doesn't work that much better. HOWEVER...I was reading on a forum online and someone mentioned a trick that looks extremely promising...The person went out and bought a 375mL bottle and after drinking that wine (the one I chose tasted like crap) you can use it to store 1/2 of a full bottle. The technique is to fill the 1/2 bottle to the top, then stick the cork in it. That will prevent any air from getting in there and therefore preserve the wine. (I did it and still had a slight amount of air, but not much.) I did this for the first time last night and am curious to see the results. the only issue I have with this is that the wine i drank last night had a lot of sediment in it and after filling the 1/2 bottle the wine I was left with wasn't as good as what is probably in the 1/2 bottle. I'd love to find a 1/3 bottle or something to hold what I would typically be left with, so the search is on for that.

Anyway, so there you go. I'm just getting into this stuff, but hopefully this will help some of you.
Thats pretty much everything I wanted to know about the cooler. Thanks for doing my homework for me. Smile I'm pretty much sold on it now, I just have to convince my wife.

I too read the 1/2 bottle trick. I tried it with a screw-cap 1/2 bottle (was a cheap chardonnay) the other day with a red that had little or no sediment. It seemed to work well enough, there was a very small bubble of air left in it. I thought the wine after 3 days was as good as day one, although I did not do the proper scientific control of a bottle opened at the same time and stored in the original bottle with just a stopper.
So, you have 35 bottles of wine. Let's just say the average price is $12/bottle. That's $420 of wine that you know will not hold up as well or be as good as if it were in a cooler. Furthermore, that cooler will protect your current wine and future wines. All in all it's a pretty simple argument.

I have four wines (12 bottles) that should mature from 2009 - 2012...This 28-bottle cooler won't be enough for me at some point. May have to buy a second one...

With regards to the 1/2 bottle thing...I've heard a lot of people say that taking a bottle and corking it and putting it in the fridge does a great job of preserving it...I put my 1/2 bottle in the fridge two nights ago and will drink it tomorrow night...Should be interesting.

Another tip that I read was to take marbles and add them to the bottle until the wine is at the top and then cork it as you would have the 1/2 bottle. The big benefit to that, in my mind, is that I usually would never drink exactly half (less than half if you do the math) of a bottle...So the marble trick is probably a good one. For now I'm going to continue to use the fridge until I have bad results and then may get some marbles. Smile
With the thermoelectric coolers, just make sure that you keep the filter screens behind the cooling units clean of dust. If they get clogged the cooling effeciency will drop and the temps rise. I would check them at least once a month. If you do they will keep the temps fairly constant. The Edgestars have an internal fan that circulates the air inside the box, keeping temps uniform, no hot spots. On the lowest setting mine will stay at about 46.
Just adding my two cents:

I recently purchased a cellar and had initially thought about a thermoelectric model. In talking to a wine vendor, he did not favor the thermoelectric system because they are prone to breaking down in 5-6 years. Additionally, there may be a limit as to how cold the unit can get in relation to the ambient temperature of your home. My home can get quite warm. 80+ degrees. I believe the Franklin Chef model states that it can cool to 18 degrees below ambinet temperature. Doing the math, I can't get to 55 degrees.

So I did the unthinkable...I purchased a real cellar that is temperature and humidity controlled. It set me back quite a bit...but if I'm going to collect seriously I wanted a unit that was going to last for say 20 years and provide an optimal environemnt to age wine. The cellar I bought also does not have a compressor but operates on the principal of liquid heat exchange using an ammonia solution. SO there is no noise or vibration.
I was recently researching wine coolers for my winter cottage. I happened across a Whynter SNO 28 bottle wine cooler which appeared to have the most bells/whistles and price-wise was comparable to the other brands on the market. So I decided to get myself one from Whynter Wine Chiller
It's worked great so far and the all silver finish looks better than the usual half/half models. One key feature that finally sold me was the digital thermostat for getting precise temps. hope that helps.
quote:
the all silver finish looks better than the usual half/half models. One key feature that finally sold me was the digital thermostat for getting precise temps.


Wow, if that was the price you paid for a 28 bottle wine cooler there's not much price-wise in it. The one I recently bought holds 52 bottles,cost less than the one you recommend and has a digital thermostat. I found digital thermostat on almost all when I was shopping. The finish is personal preference and has nothing to do with function.

Do you sell the Whynter?
EagleGrafix: I can almost guarantee that your 52-bottle is not a Thermoelectric. I'd rather have two Thermoelectric 28-bottle coolers than your 52-bottle compressor based cooler. Now, if you tell me yours is Thermoelectric please send the link...I need more space! Smile

BTW...As I am at capacity and yet don't have a house to support building a large wine cellar...What is a good next step for me? Right now I'll probably just get another 28-bottle Thermoelectric...But, if I can find a non-compressor based larger unit that isn't TOO expensive, I'd probably go that route...Though, I'm concerned that the price will be huge. If someone knows of something I should consider, please let me know.

Thanks!
Mike
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Full Bodied:
Just adding my two cents:

I recently purchased a cellar and had initially thought about a thermoelectric model. In talking to a wine vendor, he did not favor the thermoelectric system because they are prone to breaking down in 5-6 years. Additionally, there may be a limit as to how cold the unit can get in relation to the ambient temperature of your home. My home can get quite warm. 80+ degrees. I believe the Franklin Chef model states that it can cool to 18 degrees below ambinet temperature. Doing the math, I can't get to 55 degrees.

So I did the unthinkable...I purchased a real cellar that is temperature and humidity controlled. It set me back quite a bit...but if I'm going to collect seriously I wanted a unit that was going to last for say 20 years and provide an optimal environemnt to age wine. The cellar I bought also does not have a compressor but operates on the principal of liquid heat exchange using an ammonia solution. SO there is no noise or vibration.


Fortunately for me, I only drink reds...So, sticking to 60-degrees is not an issue. My apartment sits at around 75-degrees and the wine cooler is sitting at 60-degrees every time I check it and I have it turned way down from the max. *shrugs*

I'd be curious to know more about what you ended up getting and what is out there that is compressorless and has more storage capacity, etc.

Thanks!
Mike
vaaccess:

The cellar I purchased is called Silent Cellar by Dometic. They are a company out of Sweden I believe. My wife and I looked at Transtherm and Eurocave but really liked the liquid heat exchange compared to the compressor. I think it is the only one of its kind so far.

The 54 bottle (36 with racks) cellar is the smallest and least expensive of the bunch. It still runs around $1,600 pretax. the larger units are more expensive but the cost per bottle goes way down the larger you go. They have some 200+ models that look pretty big. My cellar is about 24x26x30 inches.

We figured that we don't drink too often and that wine collecting can get out of hand unless we use the cellar size to control our habit.

It also doesn't help that Napa is 1 hr away.
quote:
Now, if you tell me yours is Thermoelectric please send the link...I need more space!


Mike - you are right about that - but that was not the feature highlighted in Sonopa's post. Mine is compressor based and I acknowledge that Thermoelectric is much better enviromentally and not to be discounted. But that aside, does it do the job that much better? That's an honest question, not a challenge. I needed space, did not want two and wanted to save money. All the other features seem to match for me and the the cooler inside is well isolated from vibration.
That's a fair question and one I cannot answer. The only thing I know is that "people" say it's better to store wine in an environment that has no vibration. And, I know that a continuous vibration that would resonate, like that of a compressor, is the type of vibration that would cause more harm than a vibration that is non-consistent. One thing I can tell you is that mine sticks at 60-degrees and doesn't fluctuate...In that regard it has been perfect.

As to the 52-bottle thermo-transfer-thingy cooler that was $1600. Dude. Wow. That seems ridiculously expensive for 52 bottles. I could buy two 28-bottle Thermoelectrics for $500. If they last 5 years each, I would be able to go 15 years without spending a dime more than you did. All the more power to you if you had that much to spend on a 52-bottle cooler...I sure hope you are putting some pricey wine in there to "justify" its cost. Wink
quote:
As to the 52-bottle thermo-transfer-thingy cooler that was $1600. Dude. Wow. ...I sure hope you are putting some pricey wine in there to "justify" its cost.


Whoa! No I did NOT buy the 52 bottle thermo-transver-thingy. The cost was way to high so I bought the best "compressor-vibrator" I could find. Actually, when I place a glass of water on the cooler while it is running I can not detect vibration on the surface on the water like Ii can on my refrigerator. I expect as it gets older for that to change but maybe by then I have my 300 bottle "closet-cellar" that I want.
I agree that $1,600 was steep...the cost of a cellar was a little alarming that the variation of cost was just so wide. I looked at some compressor models that were comparable in size and found them to be $600-$800. But I also looked at models that were in the $100-$200 dollar range. So many options. Like I said, the humidity control was really a nice feature. Corks drying out and letting in oxygen would be bad especially since I would like to keep my bottles for 10-20 years (or longer)

There were more expensive models on the market too!!!

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