Cellar or cooler?

Okay, you find yourself buying more bottles than you are drinking.
Your assemblage looks awesome in the dining room or that closet in extra bedroom.
You have multiple rhapsodic choices at cork pulling time. You contemplate the next step: a cellar or wine cooler to protect your investment and house your horde.

Tips: A wine cellar is a cabinet or an entire room designed to store wine at steady temperature, ideally 57 degrees, with controlled humidity and minimum light and vibration—optimal conditions for long-term aging. If that is where you are going—buying wines you will not open for five years or more—a cellar is way to go. You’ll spend at least $5K, likely more, plus ongoing expenses for the temperature and humidity control system.

A wine cooler is designed to maintain constant temperature, typically for serving, not long-term storage. Experts recommend you buy one that holds more bottles than you think you will need—you’ll fill it up.

Cautions: Coolers can vibrate (not good for long-term storage). Make sure door glass fights light (a wine enemy). And opening the door again and again to admire your collection causes temperature to go up and down (defeating purpose of the cooler).

A cooler is better than top of your refrigerator (a terrible place for wine storage, BTW). Cooler is better than a rack on the kitchen counter, somewhat better than a dark closet. If you are going to admire your wine for only a couple of years, a cooler will suite you fine. If you are building a legacy, sell out for a cellar.


• Ruta 22 Malbec. Bold and smooth, nice taste and price. Argentina. $13

• Michael David Petite Petit. Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot, dark, sultry, black fruits. $18

• Fess Parker Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay. Melons, pears, citrus. Light touch, balance, buttery. $28

• Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. Tannins for aging, complex. $74