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Wine Cabinet Buying Guide

No longer just for diehard connoisseurs, the wine cabinet is becoming an essential fixture in homes.

Wine is one of life’s great pleasures. We collect it, we quaff it, we spend thousands of dollars on it each year. Why not store and serve it at ideal temperatures in our homes so we can enjoy it at its best, just as the winemaker Intended? More Australians are incorporating wine cabinets into their kitchens than ever before — thanks to a pandemic-fuelled renovation boom and a desire to stay in and entertain at home. “At the beginning of the pandemic we saw a definite increase in sales of wine cabinets,” says Winnings product expert Bruce Cranston. “Most of our big orders now include a unit. They really are becoming part of the furniture.” For the uninitiated, the options when buying a wine cabinet can be confusing. Wine cabinets are available in three main configurations: freestanding, underbench and integrated cabinets that are hidden behind joinery. The next consideration is size: the smallest cabinets keep about 20 bottles, while the largest store 300-plus — keep in mind that you’ll want space to grow your collection. Then decide whether you want a single-temperature cabinet, which is suited for long-term storage (between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius is ideal), or dual or multitemperature zones, which can store some bottles in ideal long-term conditions and others at ideal temperatures for serving. Cranston points out that wine cabinets are not meant to store beer and cider as they don’t get cold enough; for that, you’ll need a beverage centre (some models have dual temperature zones to allow you to store wines as well). Other wine cabinet considerations include anti-vibration technology (for some models, this is as simple as wooden racks to absorb movement), anti-UV glass, air filtration and noise levels (some compressors are quieter than others). COLD CALLING The benefits of wine cabinets are manifold: not only do they free up space in your refrigerator, they can also chill champagnes, whites and some lighter reds to the perfect temperature for serving. That’s six to eight degrees Celsius for champagne, and nine to 12 degrees for white wine, while certain reds can be chilled to 12 to 14 degrees, according to QT Hotels & Resorts’ beverage director, Chris Morrison. “A lot of the contemporary, lighter reds that have very little oak and lots of fruit and freshness are fun to serve chilled, especially in summer,” he says. Oaky whites (such as many chardonnays) and aged whites should be served slightly warmer to help release the wine’s aroma and flavour, and to balance texture. “When too cold, oak sticks out and hardens a wine. But as you warm it up, the fruit flavours, particularly in chardonnay, start to emerge and you find that balance. If it’s in the wine cabinet stored at nine degrees, bring it out for five minutes before serving.” He adds: “Aged whites should be left off ice and slowly raised to the ambient room temperature.” STORE, THEN SERVE Cabinets will prolong the life of your wine by keeping it at a constant temperature and humidity (important for corks), and minimising movement — a big drawcard for many collectors who don’t have the space for an underground cellar. Morrison recommends setting your wine cabinet at 14 to 16 degrees Celsius for long-term storage. When it comes to serving red wines, however, the former career sommelier and author (he penned the book This Is Not a Wine Guide), recommends bringing the wine to 17 to 19 degrees before serving. A quick hack for achieving that is to decant the wine first, then immerse the decanter in a saucepan of just-boiled water for one minute. “It will bring the temperature up slowly to a point that’s closer to the ideal temperature for serving,” he says. “The thing you’re dealing with in red wine a lot more than white is tannins — you need to balance them by raising the temperature, especially for bigger wines such as cabernet and shiraz.” Decanting plays a big role in allowing the wine to achieve its fullest expression — and not only for reds. “This is a personal thing, but I think every single wine needs to be decanted,” Morrison says. “There are so many things in young wines that still need to be worked out with air. There are things in aged wines, in premium wines, that all benefit from contact with oxygen. With a little bit of air you start to see the wine express itself more.” Once opened, most wines will keep in a wine cabinet or fridge for up to two days — or three if you use a good-quality pump to remove oxygen from the bottle. Red wines with high tannins and acidity tend to last longer. PERFECT MATCH A good drop sings with the right kind of food, and a deft wine pairing adds complexity to a meal. “Great food wines are like Swiss Army knives — they have 20 tools that come out and there’s something that goes with everything,” Morrison says. “In autumn, I just love nebbiolo from northern Italy. It’s great with autumn vegetables. It’s also amazing with anything with umami, especially meat off fire. I love barbera and pinot noir in autumn, too. In whites, go for wines that have more texture, weight and oak, such as local fiano and white blends led by pinot gris, or wines from the Loire Valley in France.” Winter foods are typically heartier and richer, calling for heavier reds with powerful flavours and rich tannins. “When you combine a beautiful piece of steak with a rich cabernet, the tannins in the wine disappear and the steak tastes more tender,” Morrison says. “That’s the relationship between fat, protein and tannin.” His all-time favourite food and wine pairing? “Chablis with NSW rock oysters is one of the greatest food and wine experiences in the world. The fresh, simple minerality of the wine — a bit salty, lots of acidity — with NSW rock oysters … you’re just clapping.” There are perfect combinations of wine and food, and also among people. Morrison recalls a recent dinner at his home with 36 guests celebrating his wife’s 40th birthday. “I did the wine, and it was just so much fun to throw food and wine on a table and everyone be there for the right reasons: celebrating someone we love,” he says. “When you put good people in a room for the right reasons with good food and good wine, you never, ever go wrong.” Using the latest technology, quality materials and beautiful finishes, the following brands are beloved by architects and homeowners alike.


Fhiaba merges robust, industrial-grade build and technology with a refined Italian aesthetic to create premium wine cabinets that perform exceptionally well and look stunning.

Temperature and humidity can be modified to ensure ideal conditions for ageing. Insulated shelves minimise vibrations. Glass doors are triple-layered and tinted to block UV light. The beechwood used to create the shelves is harvested in the Veneto region of Italy and handcrafted by local artisans. Capacity ranges from 54 to 120 bottles, with both single and multi-zone cabinets available. Many models feature a handy TriMode drawer, which can be used as either a freezer, fridge or crisper at the push of a button, and some come equipped with an automatic ice maker, too. Choose from classic brushed stainless steel, the more industrial-looking X-Pro series or the fully integrated range. Add-on prosciutteria and cheese kits enable storage of cured meats and cheeses in ideal conditions to prevent drying out or, conversely, fermentation.


The American company sets the standard for wine cabinets with its impressive range that can maintain temperature within one degree of set point.

With UV-resistant glass, soft LED lighting and dark interiors to protect wine from light, the cabinets also feature dual evaporators to maintain the appropriate level of humidity, eliminating the chance of corks drying out or becoming too moist. Full-extension shelves cradle bottles safely and glide smoothly in and out to provide easy access without agitating the wine. Doors also feature hinges that allow for soft opening and closing. “Sub-Zero cabinets are your best bet for true long-term cellaring, as they control the temperature very well,” says Winning Appliances Product Expert Bruce Cranston. “They also have a nice range of integrated models.” Customers can create a bespoke finish with custom cabinetry and hardware or opt for classic stainless steel. The range comes in three widths — 46cm, 61cm and 76cm — with capacities ranging from 42 to 147 bottles.


Danish-designed Vintec wine cabinets combine the latest wine-preserving technology with sleek, modern design and a range of sizes and options to suit every kitchen.

The Thermal Recycling Pump, triple-glazed doors and insulated side panels help to replicate the consistent temperature and humidity of underground cellars, allowing the wine to mature slowly and consistently. “We probably sell the most of Vintec, because it’s a reliable entry point,” Cranston says. Externally housed compressors help to minimise vibrations, along with rubber shock absorbers and wooden shelves. The units also feature anti-UV glass and come equipped with energy-efficient R600a refrigerant gas, which has zero ozone-depleting properties and won’t contribute to greenhouse gases. Cabinets are available in single, dual and multi-zones, and capacity starts at 20 bottles and goes right up to 600.


The ASKO Wine Climate Cabinet is the world’s first smart wine cabinet, allowing you to catalogue your collection via the integrated camera and touchscreen.

ASKO WCN111942G Elements Wine Cabinet

You can also scan a bottle to read more about the wine — such as tips on how to store it — on Vivino, which claims to be the world’s largest wine database. The cabinet has optimum humidity levels and features three temperature zones, allowing you to store and serve whites, reds and champagnes in perfect condition. The Swedes have mastered beautiful, clever design, and the Wine Climate Cabinet is no exception: its sleek silhouette suits all spaces and it comes with adjustable mood lighting and a serving area with an optional bottle holder and tray for your glassware (which can be chilled in advance). This area can be used for wine storage instead if desired. The cabinet also has anti-UV triple-glazed glass, telescopic soft-closing shelves and active charcoal air filters. It stores up to 190 bottles of wine.

Written by Christine Piper. As seen in Winnings Design & Culinary Guide, Issue 05. Download Now.


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