The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

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adam caldwell
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The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#1 Post by adam caldwell » September 11th, 2019, 11:55 pm

Hopefully this story may provide some guidance and insight to others who may also be early on in their exploration of wine and therefore helped by my indecisiveness and ranting . I ran into a familiar challenge for those that start to buy wine-trying to navigate where to store wine and how best to do it.

I caught the wine bug hard about 3 years ago. Since then I have been tasting, traveling to visit producers, reading everything in sight, asking a million questions and buying wine. I am buying to drink now and also to lay down and store for a period of years until it reaches its optimal or preferred drinking window. We are still talking about a relatively small amount ( a few hundred bottles) compared to what most would consider a collection. At this point much of what I drink and like and buy is from Piedmont and Burgundy. I am not buying volume yet usually no more than 3-4 or any specific bottle but as we all know it can start to add up quickly even at that pace. My home is in Chicago so space is not abundant in my duplex condo.

So I started –

Step one-I was storing wine in a nice pantry under the stairs-always dark and fitted with wine shelves from the previous owner. Can store about 120 bottles. Fine, but not great temp or humidity control about the same as the living area. Not for nice bottles or for many years bit it is some dedicated space.

Then I just visited Germany and Burgundy and Piedmont. I bought some nice bottles. I need more space for wine!

Step 2-Purchased a New Air 45 bottle wine fridge. The thing actually is still going strong and is pegged to 55/56 degrees(I verify with multiple tools). I am actually stunned how good it is for a few hundred bucks. Filled that up quick with nicer bottles. I need more space for wine!

Step 3 purchase an inexpensive Danby 40 bottle wine fridge on sale. Temp is inconsistent within the unit and will not adjust. I notify store of my concern and before we can actually talk they ship me another one ! OK, Now I have 2 Danby units both have the same temp fluctuation 55 degree on top few shelves down to low 40’s on bottom shelves. Not really usable for my purposes of storing wine but I use the top shelves and fill both of them up. I need more space for wine!

Another visit to Burgundy and Piedmont (Altare, Chiara Boschis, Marchesi di Grésy ) and this time I am buying cases of wine. I have no place to put these when they arrive I may have to sleep with a couple of cases next to me in bed. I need more space for wine!

So now I am tired of the wine fridge drama. I explore offsite options but this seems out my league with my volume and value of what I have. I research and read and bother some patient folks on this board for advice. Eurocave is the consensus choice for those with limited space but man they are not cheap. I consider Ebay and Craigslist for used units but they would have to be local and I would have to hire movers to get them into my place. I look for used for a few weeks. I also learn that Wine Enthusiast (one of if not the only US retailers for Eurocave) has kind of a hidden scratch and dent/outlet section of their website where you can actually make them an offer for units from the outlet. Now I am thinking this may be the way. I am going to make this happen and stop messing around. Remember- I need more space for wine! I make an offer. It is still thousands of dollars so I think about it for a few days and poof that unit is gone back to waiting. Back to checking craigslist and eBay and Wine Enthusiast outlet. D day is coming wine is being shipped. I have wine coming in from Italy, France as well as retailers and producers in New York, Connecticut and a couple in California. Weeks go by, bang there is a great unit on the outlet page, I make an offer. We reach an agreement on the number (man they are expensive). I literally have my credit card in my hand and the guy on the phone. The price is agreed but then the tax, can’t be avoided another $500 for tax, ok. But then here comes-oh by the way you’re not on the first floor so to get it up the stairs free delivery does not apply and is another $700 bucks. Nope, not going to pay that, maybe it’s me being salty or maybe a principle thing but that is crazy town for me, I tell them to take a hike I pass. So now I have nothing, and still - I need more space for wine!

Frustrated I sit in front of my computer and pull up craigslist for the 800th time. Literally 5 minutes later, In Chicago close to my house, a guy is selling a used Eurocave V264 for @10% of the new price. I send him a message, he actually has 2 units and I can choose whichever I like the best. I research this guy a bit and find out he actually owns a wine store. I take that as great news because at least he knows how to care for it and is not storing his expired insulin or deer carcasses in it or something. I head to his place to look at the units- they work, large capacity (220 bottles each) he has wine in them. They are 20 years old so there is some risk but I like the price much better so I make him an offer for one. He makes me a counter offer and says take both. That's crazy.I don’t really have room for one let alone two full size units ! Then he offers me a really intriguing price and some store credit at his wine shop to sweeten the deal and we agree.

The next day I hire local movers to pick up and deliver both units up my 4 flights of stairs for $200 bucks. Total pros, never even tipped the units over at my request. I order a couple of new filters. I also find some new old stock shelves a guy has on eBay for 100 bucks. After researching the best way to clean a wine fridge, I learned you need to avoid chemicals or bleach anything that can effect the wine once stored in there. Warm water with a bit of Hydrogen Peroxide seemed to be the best bet to clean with no risk. Total cost for 2 Eurocave V264 delivered with new filters and additional shelving came to about $1300 usd.

Both units are working really well so far. One can make a bit of sound when the compressor is on but the temp and humidity control is on point. I also walked away with a relationship with a nice wine retailer and you can never have enough of those. So I have added @440 bottles of capacity and offloaded a couple of these smaller units, what person needs 5 wine fridges in his condo. So that is my journey of exploration is the quest for 55 degrees F and 70% humidity and enough space to keep buying wine. Alas time is fleeting and the fridges are of course quickly filling and very very soon - I will need more space for wine!

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Jason T
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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#2 Post by Jason T » September 12th, 2019, 12:50 am

Welcome to the club Adam. I built out a small storage closet to hold a 100 or so bottles, and reveled in my 'cellar'. Stored the 'good stuff' in a small 40-ish bottle beverage fridge. Then I moved to a bigger place, and got more racking for about 400 bottles. But those could only be for my every-daynear-term bottles, as I was now in the south and it was too hot. So I got a Eurocave. Now I had capacity for about 200 temp-controlled bottles and another 400-ish at room temp.

Then I moved to the UK. All of my US wine that was cellerable went into off-site storage (and I've now already outgrown two lockers), I'm building racking for about 360 every day/near term bottles here in London, and I already have an off-site as well.

Now I'm coming up on 800 bottles, basically doubling what I had in the US in the period of about 4 months. Some of that is continued purchasing of my favorite US producers, that go straight to storage. Much more though is just building up my near-term collection here in London, so that I've got something on-hand for most any situation/mood.

Of course if you'd asked me when I had storage for 100 bottles if I'd ever have 800, I would have laughed in your face. And now of course I recognize that because I like aged wine, it's probably actually in the thousands.

The life we live...
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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#3 Post by Mark Thompson » September 13th, 2019, 6:20 am

Welcome Adam. Your storage story parallels mine up through a few years ago almost exactly. Will hopefully bump into you around town sometime.

[cheers.gif]

Jayson Cohen
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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#4 Post by Jayson Cohen » September 13th, 2019, 6:36 am

Adam, good luck with your expanding collection.

I think I know the end of your story but it could be many years off: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=150102&hilit=Monthly

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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#5 Post by J. Rock » September 13th, 2019, 11:27 am

In the future, consider that getting offsite storage is not only great for storing your bottles, but it oftentimes can act as a kind of wine social club where members are happy to share wine and organize wonderful tastings. I've already been very fortunate to have been offered tastes of many amazing wines as my offsite cellar and meet a lot of great and interesting people. This social aspect alone of the offsite makes it worth the money to me.
J o r d a n

adam caldwell
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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#6 Post by adam caldwell » September 19th, 2019, 9:16 pm

J. Rock wrote:
September 13th, 2019, 11:27 am
In the future, consider that getting offsite storage is not only great for storing your bottles, but it oftentimes can act as a kind of wine social club where members are happy to share wine and organize wonderful tastings. I've already been very fortunate to have been offered tastes of many amazing wines as my offsite cellar and meet a lot of great and interesting people. This social aspect alone of the offsite makes it worth the money to me.
Great point Jordan, I had not thought of that, thanks.

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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#7 Post by Howard Cooper » September 20th, 2019, 4:41 am

Should have kept the smaller units. In answer to your question as to who need five wine frigs in their condo, I have a feeling the answer is you.

I could sign this the voice of experience.
Howard

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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#8 Post by Jeff_M. » September 20th, 2019, 6:45 am

I think we all have a similar start with our collections. I filled my home cellar and started brain storming how to build one into a closet at my home. I just couldn't justify the construction and loss of closet storage space so I went offsite and filled that locker in less than a year. I will have to be more selective with my purchases going into my second locker so I don't wind up with a 3rd locker. Eventually my young collection will be drinking good and I'll be able to cull out spots in my home cellar. I've found that I do not enjoy younger wines as much as I do as older bottles so I am sitting on more wine longer to age them.
Jeff M 0 l l

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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#9 Post by I. Howe » September 20th, 2019, 6:47 am

Two 220 bottle Eurocave units, two Danby 40 bottle units and one New Air 45 bottle unit. Once they are all full, I will be really glad I do not live below Adam. ;)
Ian Howe

adam caldwell
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Re: The pursuit of 55F/70% humidity and a working wine fridge - I need more space for wine!

#10 Post by adam caldwell » September 20th, 2019, 11:45 am

I. Howe wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 6:47 am
Two 220 bottle Eurocave units, two Danby 40 bottle units and one New Air 45 bottle unit. Once they are all full, I will be really glad I do not live below Adam. ;)
Ha That's true Ian, for those reasons and others I am probably not the greatest neighbor. Although likely the best spot in this small building to grab a glass of wine.

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