Wine Storage for Long Term

Hi All,
We recently had a baby and thought it would be cool to buy her some nice bottles that we can age and open on her 21st birthday. We have a dark room in the basement which generally stays between 55 and 65 degrees (Fahrenheit), but with the extended hot temperatures we have been having lately, the temperature down there has gone to 70 degrees. So, I think we need to get a wine refrigerator.

In doing all of my research, things like consistent temperature, picking the right size, and minimal vibration seem to be the main factors.

So, with that -
Does anyone have any recommendations for long long term storage (20+ years)? Are there any wine fridges out there that are good for this? If so, what would you recommend? I can see the collection growing to 40+ nice bottles at some point. I am ok spending $200, but also willing to spend $6k if need be.

Also, as a side note - I am nervous that the wine we bought has been sitting in 70 degree temps for a month now. Will this negatively affect the flavor 20 years out? Should we try drinking this earlier and buy new bottles that we store in the wine fridge right out of the gate? I would hate to open these for her 21st birthday and have them be soured!!

Thanks for the help,


The wine you bought is fine, a month at 70 is fine. Most wine shops keep bottles on their shelves at room temperature except rare/expensive ones. Just buy a cheap wine fridge like a magic chef and keep it in the basement; it will likely rarely run so should last a long time.

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Thank you!
And just for my own knowledge on this matter - are there any brands that are known for long term storage of wine in particular? What sorts of brands minimize vibration (I realize this seems to be a point of contention, where in my research many people say the vibration of a refrigerator really doesn’t matter).

Thanks again.

Vibration doesn’t matter, at least the difference between units doesn’t. People have had success with whirlpool and magic chef.

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My background is not in wine; I’m just into about my third year of seriously stocking the stuff, and I mostly like to imbibe 4-5 times a week. I needed a way to effectively store wine a couple of years ago, so I tried to figure out what 'frig to purchase, and the options seemed daunting: everybody sells a wine 'frig, and the prices are $150 to over $12k for standalone units. What differentiates these units? I spent more time than I’d like reading, then I bought something, and it didn’t make it to 2.5 years, so I’ve read some more.

My background is in service. Not refrigeration (though I’ve taken some classes) but service principles remain the same.

First, I’d say that if you’re buying new, stay far, far away from Vinotemp. Read Lou Ferreira’s and Susan Williams’ Tales of Woe dealing with Vinotemp (it’s a fairly long read, with lots of details) and you’ll understand why you don’t want to go that way.

Broadly, there are two distinct types of wine (and general-purpose) refrigerators: those that can be serviced when they break, and all the rest. The serviceable ones are expensive. But, the expensive ones can’t all be serviced, so price alone will not guide you here. For example, Eurocave gets high marks from reviewers and longtime owners, but nobody claims that they can be serviced in the US, nor does there seem to be a reliable source of spare parts, if you can convince a service facility to diagnose yours.

The class of wine refrigerators that can definitely be serviced are the ones that use what Quasar in the '60s (remember Quasar?) used to call, “Works in a Drawer” technology. The refrigerator’s cooling unit is all in one box that (usually) hangs from the cabinet’s ceiling. When it craps, it unscrews with (often) two screws, and drops out. You can have it serviced, or if the economics don’t work out, replace the whole cooling unit. It’s so easy to swap the cooling unit out, that Le Cache has a video showing how owners can do it themselves on theirs.

So, if you buy a Le Cache or a (used) Vinotemp, or one of the other wine refrigerator mfgrs who use this technology, you are pretty much guaranteed to be able to repair it five, ten, or twenty years down the road, because there are (or have been in the past) several different mfgrs of the cooling units (WineMate (Vinotemp’s house brand), CellarPro (Le Cache’s house brand these days), WhisperKOOL, Breezaire, etc.), and while the coarse dimensions of the units do vary a bit, it’s nothing that can’t be accommodated by your cabinet.

On the other side, you have Eurocave & Transtherm (on the high end), and on the budget side: Summit (the one that I just dealt with), Magic Chef, and literally dozens of import 'frigs sold under various brand names from everywhere including Home Depot. While you can often get a 5-year warranty on the compressor (only), compressor failures happen but the labor to replace will be 1/2 or more the cost of replacing the entire 'frig, and the all-too-common evaporator leaks cannot be repaired at all, esp. when the evap is built into the back wall of the cabinet. This is the “affordable” class of wine refrigerators.

Le Cache has notably good customer service. In their standalone products, their lineup skews to the wood-finish cabinets, with only a few metal cabinets, but AFAICT all their products have the “Works in a Drawer” technology. They are not cheap. However, they do come up on the used market fairly regularly so if you’re not averse to buying used, they are a good buy – this is the way I’m going, once I push my Summits out my door this week. The older Le Cache units used the somewhat problematic Breezaire cooling units, not noted for quiet nor longevity, but they can be replaced with a modern CellarPro for ~$1600 (there are options from $1,400 to $2,100), so plan accordingly.




I appreciate the answers and help @Mich@el Ch@ng.

Al_Savage, thanks so much for giving me that super in depth analysis of your research. It’s given me some really good stuff to think about (and more research, which I don’t mind doing).

Don’t overthink it.

You’d be putting a fridge in the best possible storage conditions; stable temperature close to the target temperature. Any fridge will do.

If you were putting it in a 90F garage it’d be a different conversation.

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What you said makes sense - Went with the Magic Chef 50 bottle wine cooler for $399.
Testing it out soon and will update the thread over time.

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I just ordered a random brand on Amazon the other day. We can compare! The one I ordered was $399 but had a -$150 coupon.

I really prefer fridges that have “wood” racks.

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Hey all, so far I think everything is going well.

I have been monitoring air temp within the fridge using a separate sensor and I noticed that the temperature fluctuates about 2 degrees every 1.5 hours. I know this is just the air temperature, and I have done a bunch of research to find that if the air temperature is fluctuating 2 degrees, that’s not necessarily bad, as the wine temp will remain stable. That said, I could not find anything about the frequency of these variations, so my question is -

Is it OK for the air temperature to be going from 58 - 60 degrees about 12-18 times per day? If not, any recommendations? Obviously adding more bottles will cause less fluctuations (whether it’s wine or watter bottles).

Thanks for the help. And I will keep updating this thread with my findings/questions.

Seems a bit high for the temp, what is it set to?

My air temp fluctuates 3.5 degrees every cycle. That’s pretty normal for a conditioning system that cycles. That’s at the top of the unit where the cooler is. At the bottom under all that mass it will fluctuate a lot less. You also have to realize that in a wine cooler, put your better long term wine at the bottom where it’s cooler and more consistent. In my 7’ unit the top section is 8 degrees warmer than the bottom.

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It’s set to 56. I am slowly lowering it by 1 degree every other day or so, as I have heard massive temperature fluctuations (quickly) can hurt the wine.
I am probably way over thinking it.

My goal is to get them to 55 degrees, but am open to use whatever you would recommend.

Thanks for all the help.

This is really useful info and makes me feel better.
Also, I just put a sensor at the top and one at the bottom so I can check out the difference in variation.

Thanks again.

It’s also valuable to get a liquid temp. I use a cheap probe thermometer stuck through an old cork into an old wine bottle filled with water. That will give you a much better idea what your wine is actually at. On one of my units I set the unit at 51, but that keeps the liquid at 54. If I set the unit at 56 the wine would be closer to 60. Because of cycling the liquid will never be as cold as the air setting. That’s when the unit shuts off. The average air temp is what the liquid will acclimate to. So my unit cycles between 51 and 58, which puts the liquid at 54.

Wow, this is genuinely a wealth of quality information. Thank you for covering most of what I was looking for and pointing out where to go with the rest of my inquiries!

The Magic Chef is a good choice for a small unit. Quality is apparently a bit variable though. We sold our 250 bottle unit when we moved to much smaller quarters and bought one that (knock wood) is still performing after 7 years. We bought the same unit for our daughter around the same time and hers died after 2-3 years. Obviously mileage varies.

It’s too late now, but the a priori principle of this seems to be that no matter what size unit you buy you WILL fill it up. Be warned!

you can just put the wine at whatever temp you want. No reason for the one degree per day. It’s not that fragile. As noted, liquid temp and air temp are different—the wine temp doesn’t change 2 degrees when air temp does, as the thermal mass keeps it quite stable. You don’t necessarily want the unit on and off all the time so the 2 degrees is fine. Don’t overthink it.

Another option for long term storage is a wine storage facility. Other than paying the bill yearly, you can just forget about it for a decade or two. Works best if you have a fair amount to store. I prefer the ones that are not full service so that only I have access to the locker.