How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

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G. Singh
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How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#1 Post by G. Singh » July 27th, 2020, 12:03 am

I am planning to get 2 Wine Enthusiast 300-bottle fridges from Costco, and use one of them for long-time storage. Looking for advice on how to maximize storage (mostly pinots and cali reds). Remove all shelves, and use cardboard tubes to stack the wines? Store in U-line boxes? Greatly appreciate suggestions.
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Mark Livingston
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#2 Post by Mark Livingston » July 28th, 2020, 10:08 am

I don't have an answer to your question but I think you would have to be careful to maintain airflow and not over pack them. I used to have 2 of the 180 bottle WE fridges and all the shelves had wholes in them to (I assume) allow airflow and increase the consistency of the temperature in the fridge.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#3 Post by Marlon F » July 28th, 2020, 11:12 am

I have 4 of these units; price are unbeatable. Now, I have purchased a thermometer and put inside it and all the 4 have the same issue: temperature set to 55 will go to 55 in the bottom shelve and increase up to 64 in the top one. Humidity holds around 55-60%... keep that in mind for you storage needs (long term..) I have been using the shelves as they come - to allow for the air flow - and I would guess it holds actually around 230/240 bottles (I would have to count it)
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#4 Post by Marlon F » July 28th, 2020, 11:13 am

I have 4 of these units; price are unbeatable. Now, I have purchased a thermometer and put inside it and all the 4 have the same issue: temperature set to 55 will go to 55 in the bottom shelve and increase up to 64 in the top one. Humidity holds around 55-60%... keep that in mind for you storage needs (long term..) I have been using the shelves as they come - to allow for the air flow - and I would guess it holds actually around 230/240 bottles (I would have to count it)
Fetzner!!!!

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#5 Post by JonathanG » July 28th, 2020, 11:15 am

temps in the upper section go up to 64? That sounds like a crappy product.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#6 Post by Victor Hong » July 28th, 2020, 12:02 pm

JonathanG wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 11:15 am
temps in the upper section go up to 64? That sounds like a crappy product.
Heat rises, regardless of unit manufacturer.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#7 Post by Max S. » July 28th, 2020, 12:07 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 12:02 pm
JonathanG wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 11:15 am
temps in the upper section go up to 64? That sounds like a crappy product.
Heat rises, regardless of unit manufacturer.
Sure, but a 9 degree differential is pretty significant. That said, you get what you pay for - so keep the good shit on the bottom [rofl.gif]
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#8 Post by JeremyMullman » July 28th, 2020, 1:27 pm

I don't think having the top bottles at 64 and the bottom bottles at 55 is a particularly big issue as long as the temps stay relatively constant. I remember an article a few years ago that said Mouton's cellar was typically in the 65/66 range.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#9 Post by Marlon F » July 28th, 2020, 2:45 pm

JeremyMullman wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 1:27 pm
I don't think having the top bottles at 64 and the bottom bottles at 55 is a particularly big issue as long as the temps stay relatively constant. I remember an article a few years ago that said Mouton's cellar was typically in the 65/66 range.
I agree... I keep my weekday wines on top; good stuff with plans for later consumption on lower racks. It is constant temperature (I live in Florida, AC always runs at 75-77 for the house where units are located)
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#10 Post by JonathanG » July 28th, 2020, 2:57 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 12:02 pm
JonathanG wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 11:15 am
temps in the upper section go up to 64? That sounds like a crappy product.
Heat rises, regardless of unit manufacturer.
one would expect the insulation on the unit and the air flow to be sufficient to maintain a very low variance as between the top and bottom. I'm well aware of heat rising, but thanks for the reminder.

My fridges do not have a 10 degree temp variation comparing top to bottom, in either my "freezer on top" version or the side by side version.

Nor does my offsite wine locker!
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#11 Post by John Morris » July 28th, 2020, 3:19 pm

JonathanG wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 2:57 pm
one would expect the insulation on the unit and the air flow to be sufficient to maintain a very low variance as between the top and bottom. ....
+1 Or at least a variance of far less than 9F.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#12 Post by Juliec » July 29th, 2020, 3:49 pm

Do you have space free for future purchases? It’s counter intuitive but the more full the frig is with items like water bottles etc, the colder it remains as a whole. I also leave space near the cooler for the fan to be able to circulate air. The first month of the elect bill Is high but after that it’s pretty low.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#13 Post by Michael Martin » July 29th, 2020, 4:13 pm

I had one of these. Sold it when we moved, but here are three things:

At 57 degrees, my bottom bottles were in the high 40’s and the top ones were about 60. So the 9 degrees top to bottom seems about right.

There is a plastic washer on the bottom spindle of the door. Mine broke and it caused me to have to slightly lift the door every time I wanted to close it. Annoying.

Unexpectedly the unit would reset to Celsius and turn on the inside light. Never could explain that, but it would happen every couple of months.

I never packed mine full, keeping the shelves intact so I could reach bottles.

I have had one of these for 9 years now without issue. At $450, I would buy a bunch and stack them. They will hold close to 60 each if you pack them right. The temp top to bottom is far more consistent. They are quiet and trouble free https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Chef- ... /300509607

If you do go with the Costco one, get the white glove delivery. Those things are a beast to move around.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#14 Post by Vince L. » July 29th, 2020, 4:59 pm

I thought most people frowned upon just wine "fridge" and actually recommended not only temperature but also humidity control. Especially if the OP is saying he's going to use one as LT Storage.

I bought a BestBuy 29bt Cooler & It acts like a fridge. The unit turns on and sucks moisture out when the temp is too high causing the humidity & temperature to be all over the place. Normally its 50% - 60% but it gets as high as 90+% esp near the bottom and then 20% when the compressor goes. As a result, some of my labels gets warped etc. Temperature fluctuates from 50 to 65 when the cooler is set to 55.

I dont know if the same thing happens in the unit in question, but i would assume so to one degree or another as wine coolers are just specialized fridges ... thus people affinity towards LeCache/EuroCav and/or Offsite...
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#15 Post by Mattstolz » July 29th, 2020, 5:07 pm

Mark Livingston wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 10:08 am
I don't have an answer to your question but I think you would have to be careful to maintain airflow and not over pack them. I used to have 2 of the 180 bottle WE fridges and all the shelves had wholes in them to (I assume) allow airflow and increase the consistency of the temperature in the fridge.
I actually have always thought the opposite is true for fridges and freezers. the more mass in the fridge, the more temperature inertia it has. aka, once you get the stacked bottles to the proper temp, it takes a lot more heat variance to change the temp in the fridge with significantly more mass packed into it than with less. the air flow might help decrease bottle temps faster, but once they're at temp it also promotes temp fluctuation

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#16 Post by John Morris » July 29th, 2020, 5:20 pm

I think your assuming perfect insulation. But if the cooling fans or coils are at the top (typical because cool air falls) and you obstruct the airflow, lower bottles will warm up gradually. That’s borne out by the 9F variations people report here.

Yes, thermal mass is helpful, but you still have to maintain the temp throughout the space, and in small fridges there’s a lot of exterior surface for the volume.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#17 Post by Chuck Miller » July 29th, 2020, 5:33 pm

Only buy 375ml bottles. You can get twice as many bottles in each unit.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#18 Post by G. Singh » July 30th, 2020, 11:48 pm

Michael Martin wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:13 pm
I have had one of these for 9 years now without issue. At $450, I would buy a bunch and stack them. They will hold close to 60 each if you pack them right. The temp top to bottom is far more consistent. They are quiet and trouble free https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Chef- ... /300509607
You can stack 60 bottles in this (meant for 50 bottles) ? Usually they always accommodate less than advertised. Did you stack the units on top of each other?
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#19 Post by Claus Jeppesen » July 31st, 2020, 12:04 am

JeremyMullman wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 1:27 pm
I don't think having the top bottles at 64 and the bottom bottles at 55 is a particularly big issue as long as the temps stay relatively constant. I remember an article a few years ago that said Mouton's cellar was typically in the 65/66 range.
Also Margaux has storage (cellar might be a misleading term) with variable temperature
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wlp_archi ... 30519.html
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#20 Post by Robert M yers » July 31st, 2020, 6:11 am

I think if you would fill it up totally the range wouldn’t be 9 degrees? I have one cheaply purchased Unit and it’s been great for 20 years. I learned it’s limitation quick, fill it up and leave it filled up. Holds temps great but don’t overwork the thing by asking it to cool lots of air constantly!

My sub zero will keep my top shelf cooler than the bottom if I want. It’s nice but if it lives 20+ years like my (underworked) generic one I’ll be Impressed.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#21 Post by Michael Martin » July 31st, 2020, 6:56 am

G. Singh wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:48 pm
Michael Martin wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:13 pm
I have had one of these for 9 years now without issue. At $450, I would buy a bunch and stack them. They will hold close to 60 each if you pack them right. The temp top to bottom is far more consistent. They are quiet and trouble free https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Chef- ... /300509607
You can stack 60 bottles in this (meant for 50 bottles) ? Usually they always accommodate less than advertised. Did you stack the units on top of each other?
The bottom is shelf less so you get creative. I also put 2 bottles facing each other perpendicular to the ones on the shelf. Yes, I have stacked them in the past w/o issue.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#22 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » July 31st, 2020, 7:08 am

I’m really down on home wine fridge cabinets, with my WhisperKOOL having died and the repairman telling me it can’t be fixed. 6 years after purchase, my $1,600 A/C unit is toast. I’m moving all of my wine to offsite with the exception of a small kitchen under counter unit that holds 30 bottles. Yes, PITA to now have to go to offsite more often, but the peace of mind is worth it for me. I’d definitely consider if and how easily you can replace A/C before you buy.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#23 Post by Doug Schulman » July 31st, 2020, 7:10 am

Use the racks. Cardboard invites mold (I know from personal experience). Cramming too much in there reduces air flow and leads to too much temperature variation within the unit, plus you can get problems with condensation and mold (again, experience). A 300 bottle unit will typically hold a little over 200 in reality.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#24 Post by G. Singh » August 1st, 2020, 6:13 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 7:10 am
Use the racks. Cardboard invites mold (I know from personal experience). Cramming too much in there reduces air flow and leads to too much temperature variation within the unit, plus you can get problems with condensation and mold (again, experience). A 300 bottle unit will typically hold a little over 200 in reality.
Any tips on how to maximize storage with the racks (shelves) ?
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#25 Post by Arv R » August 1st, 2020, 7:06 am

Sc0tt F!tzger@ld wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 7:08 am
I’m really down on home wine fridge cabinets, with my WhisperKOOL having died and the repairman telling me it can’t be fixed. 6 years after purchase, my $1,600 A/C unit is toast. I’m moving all of my wine to offsite with the exception of a small kitchen under counter unit that holds 30 bottles. Yes, PITA to now have to go to offsite more often, but the peace of mind is worth it for me. I’d definitely consider if and how easily you can replace A/C before you buy.
There are plenty of drawbacks to offsite storage too, especially the farther away you are, and the less frequent you visit. Explore what the laws are covering storage facilities in your state as well. It can be a headache when a site is sold and redeveloped, and you have to move your stuff. I've had anywhere from 1-4 offsite storage units (for a variety of stuff, not all wine) over the last 23 years and there are plenty of annoyances with that too.

Bottom line: there are lots of costs & aggro involved in cellaring wine, so make sure it makes some sense to begin with. or only buy the bottles you cannot find later on, and go to secondary market for mature available items (letting someone else bear the carrying cost for a decade or two)
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#26 Post by Doug Schulman » August 1st, 2020, 1:21 pm

G. Singh wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 6:13 am
Doug Schulman wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 7:10 am
Use the racks. Cardboard invites mold (I know from personal experience). Cramming too much in there reduces air flow and leads to too much temperature variation within the unit, plus you can get problems with condensation and mold (again, experience). A 300 bottle unit will typically hold a little over 200 in reality.
Any tips on how to maximize storage with the racks (shelves) ?
Organizing by bottle shape can help, especially if there’s a bottom shelf for stacking several rows. Beyond that, getting creative has mostly given me problems (mold or bottles falling out) with minimal gain in capacity. I think the best approach is to accept what the reasonable capacity is and not try to increase it.

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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#27 Post by J. Blum » August 1st, 2020, 4:48 pm

[quote="Michael Martin" post_id=3042603 time=1596064417 user_id=9244

I have had one of these for 9 years now without issue. At $450, I would buy a bunch and stack them. They will hold close to 60 each if you pack them right. The temp top to bottom is far more consistent. They are quiet and trouble free https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Chef- ... /300509607

[/quote]

I wonder if they've crapped out on the design/quality of the racks on these Magic Chef 50's over the years. I bought two of them from Home Depot in mid 2019 and unless I removed all the racks and just stacked bottles, I couldn't get close to 60 in each, more like 40 and barely that in the Pinot/Chard one. I had to remove a few of the racks to even get any of the modern sized or Pinot/Syrah/Chard bottles in there at all. The racks are also poorly designed with a straight front edge (instead of round like a wine bottle), flimsy and even with the smallest oldest school Bordeaux bottles the labels will scrape as the rack above sags (not double stacking either).

I am seriously thinking of tossing the racks out or getting a few sturdier racks fabricated that I could mega-stack on. I will say that the temps are rock solid in both units (just set it 5 degrees lower than your target) with no label soaking or even any fluctuations in temp. I have remote sensors on the bottom of each to keep an eye on the temps.

Lowe's has a comparable model for $500, that I discovered later, that has much better designed racks that I think one could get 60 in.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#28 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 » August 1st, 2020, 7:20 pm

Chuck Miller wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 5:33 pm
Only buy 375ml bottles. You can get twice as many bottles in each unit.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#29 Post by Victor Hong » August 1st, 2020, 7:26 pm

Rich K0rz€nk0 wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 7:20 pm
Chuck Miller wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 5:33 pm
Only buy 375ml bottles. You can get twice as many bottles in each unit.
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Re: How to maximize storage in a wine fridge

#30 Post by Bob C » August 1st, 2020, 7:49 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 12:02 pm
JonathanG wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 11:15 am
temps in the upper section go up to 64? That sounds like a crappy product.
Heat rises, regardless of unit manufacturer.
My 165 bottle Wine Enthusiast fridge has been almost a perfect 55 top, and 55 bottom for 2+ years running. 600 or so bottle Le Cache has about a 2 degree differential. 9 degrees for anything is definitely some kind of a malfunction.

And, to answer OP’s question, don’t buy Turley;). Love their wine, but drives me nuts trying to shelve them.
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