Eurocave Wine Cellars Comparison Essay

Since 1976, EuroCave® has been the world standard for wine cabinets and wine cooling units. Rooted in a passion for wine culture, EuroCave offers two models of wine cellar cooling units, which are the industry leaders in terms of quality, sound (EuroCave offers the quietest unit on the market), reliability and technology. For this company, knowing that their product will be protecting your wine is an honor that they do not take lightly. Like you, they are wine lovers, and they take it as their legacy all of the tens of millions of wine bottles entrusted to their cabinets and cooling units.

EuroCave is quite simply the best wine cellar climate control system available. It is our cooling unit of choice for a number of reasons: reliable, efficient, durable, and quiet.

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Typically, wine lockers also have smoked-glass doors so owners can see their stashes without letting in ultraviolet light, which also damages wine. Prices range from $150 for an eight-bottle countertop cooler to $6,000 for a 1,000-bottle armoire-style cabinet with roll-out shelves. Leading brands include EuroCave, Avanti and Sub-Zero.

Like regular refrigerators, wine keepers with front vents are more expensive, but they are necessary if you want to put them in nooks or build them into cabinetry. If you want to store both white and red wines, you may want to consider a dual-temperature unit, to keep the white wines cooler. Some units control humidity as well as temperature, which is also important in preventing a drying cork. That, of course, is not an issue if you drink any of the increasing number of high-quality wines with screw-top bottles.

You should look for coolers with no discernible vibration, said Josh Farrell, a product specialist in the retail division of the Wine Enthusiast Companies. Vibration can not only heat wine but may also stir up and reintroduce the harsh-tasting tannins that fall as sediment to the bottom of a bottle as wine ages.

For collections too large for an appliance, building a climate-controlled room is a possibility.

Michael Branson, a mortgage banker in Villa Park, Calif., once had wine lockers in his garage, kitchen and office. But last year, when his wine collection grew to 2,700 bottles, he decided to consolidate his holdings by transforming a sunroom into a walk-in vault with a capacity of 3,300 bottles. He now has weekly tastings there. "It's the most popular spot in the house," Mr. Branson said of the vault, which cost $65,000. Mr. Chess in Pennsylvania spent $40,000 for his smaller cellar, and he saved a bit by installing the racks with help from a friend.

As a rule, racking costs $4 to $10 a bottle, depending on the complexity of the design and the kind of wood, according to Vigilant Inc. of Dover, N.H., which designs and builds custom racks, paneling and doors for wine cellars. Mahogany and redwood are best because they won't rot in the humidity. Cellar builders and wine experts say the walls and the ceiling of the cellar or vault should be lined with R-30 foam insulation, which is much thicker than the standard R-13 fiberglass variety. And a vapor barrier of plastic sheeting is needed between the Sheetrock and the insulation so the outside walls, or perhaps the floor above won't sweat like a cold soda can on a hot day.

A slow-cooling system that does not dehumidify is also needed; brands include Breezaire, WhisperKool, VinoMate and CoolSpace. The options are boxy, through-the-wall units that look like window air-conditioners, or "split" systems that are like central air-conditioning, with ductwork connecting an outside condenser to an inside evaporator. Split systems cost $7,000 to $10,000, compared with $800 to $3,500 for self-contained units. The system should be the proper size for the area to be cooled.

IF you prefer a ready-made solution, you may want to consider the new Monogram Walk-In Wine Vault, at $30,000 from General Electric. The company says that this fully insulated cooler, roughly 8 feet high, 9 feet wide and 8 feet deep, can be installed in a basement, garage or kitchen in less than a day. Customized features like an arched tasting alcove are available. A computerized, touch-screen tracking system attached to the vault's stainless-steel exterior helps you keep up with the inventory.

Whether you choose a high-tech vault or a low-tech closet, Mr. Kolpan at the Culinary Institute suggested that you spare any spiders that might take residence, because they feed on the mildew that rots corks and can ruin wine. "When it comes to wine storage," he said, "spiders are a very good thing."

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