Top Nine Wine Books by Women

0365.  Best 9 Wine Books.jpeg

There are so many books that can aid you in learning about wine!  

Spend any time around wine lovers and experts and you will quickly find that most are avid readers. In studying for any of the wine certifications through entities such as WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust), CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers), Wine Guild, and Certified Specialist of Wine, one will find that a lot of reading is involved.

It is no surprise, moreover, that many of these books are written by women - 8 out of 10 bottles of wine consumed in home are purchased by women! 

Each book on an aspect of wine has different ideas and different goals for the reader. When picking out wine books, there are many things to consider. 

This blog will help you differentiate typical types of wine books and help you decide which is best - and most interesting - for you.

Wine 101 Books

All wine novices, wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and sommeliers all started at the same place … the beginning!  But not all beginning wine books are the same. Some encourage us to memorize specific regions, while others focus on discerning aromas and flavors and demystifying “wine speak.” Some encourage us to explore the world of wine with abandon, while others suggest we focus on the classics. Some are text-heavy while others appeal with images and tables. 

Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide
By Madeline Puckette, Justin Hammack

Best Wine 101 Book for the Visual Learner

Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition

If you learn best through maps, eye-pleasing graphics, and smaller snippets of text, then Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition is the best wine book for you. This book was awarded the 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Beverage. Wine Folly co-founders are Madeline Puckette (sommelier) and Juston Hammack (digital strategist). If you are a fan of the Somm movie series, you may have seen Madeline in Somm: Into the Bottle.

The book begins with a short overview of wine basics presented with graphics and images.  Basics covered include wine labels, types of wine, how to taste wine, how to choose wine, how wine is made, and how to pair wines. It then shifts into an overview of the major grape varieties and wines of the world, with charts and diagrams outlining their geographic distribution, acreage and what smells and tastes to expect. The book recommends wines to explore from each region.  

 
The 24-Hour Wine Expert
By Jancis Robinson

Best Wine 101 Book When You are Crunched For Time

The 24-Hour Wine Expert

Jancis Robinson, the most respected wine critic in the world and well known for authoring and co-authoring some of the heftiest wine books, distills over four decades of wine knowledge into this petite book. 

We love this easy-to-read overview written, with humor, in plain English. The book introduces key concepts then gets right down to the business of choosing the right bottle, matching wine and food to the occasion, and seeking out wine values. After explaining how to handle wine, the book covers the most common grapes and wine regions.

Fun and concise, this book answers many beginner wine questions and may leave you wanting to learn more about wine after following the suggested exercises. You can also check out Jancis in The Somm Series.

 

Wine Consumer Review Books

Not everyone who shops for good wine values is interested in learning a lot about wine. I get it. I love grilled veggies, but I’m not that into outdoor grills. If I need to buy a new grill, I’d consult a consumer review publication or do some online research to find the best grill at a certain price.

General wine review books focus on getting you the best value for your dollar on wines you see year-in year-out in large wine retailers like Total Wine, Target, and Wal-Mart.

For the more wine savvy, other annual publications focused on getting you the best value in a given vintage or vintage + growing region. These books are aimed at emerging or serious collectors placing orders online or through a local wine shop, or at those purchasing wines at restaurants.  

Best Wine Consumer Review Book

Good, Better, Best Wines

If you are looking for a good, cheap wine under $15 that’s available almost anywhere you shop, then this book is great to have on your e-reader App as you browse the aisles.  

Canadian wine judge and wine columnist Carolyn Evans Hammond covers the best $5 to $15 wines distributed throughout the United States and Canada. She covers Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, sparkling wines, and other great inexpensive red and white wines.     

Harried shoppers will enjoy this book’s simplicity - Carolyn lists “Good, Better, Best” with an image of each bottle to make shopping a breeze. She also makes recommendations for those looking for a super low-priced Tuesday night wine as well as dessert wines and party wines.  The book ends with best hidden gems.

In addition to checking out Carolyn’s book, see our recommendations for wine shopping at the grocery store.

 

Wine Books About the Pleasures of Wine

Let’s face it, we consume wine for pleasure.

People who enjoy wine derive different pleasures from its consumption, which can include

  • The rituals surrounding wine service in fine dining

  • Relaxing with a complex glass of wine in your favorite chair

  • Exploring the pairing of wine with different food flavors and cuisines

  • Gifting or sharing a coveted bottle with family, clients, or friends 

  • Seeking out and finding underdog wines

  • ...and much more

These books encompass several aspects of the world of wine. The best combine culture, travel, gastronomy, and poetry.  

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Short Story Lovers

Wine in Words

Wall Street Journal Wine Columnist Lettie Teague shares mini-essays on many wine topics including wine myths, wine culture, and wine exploration. We’re a big fan of Lettie’s wine advice, including “Drink what you don’t know.”

Lettie has been writing about wine for years and the stories in these essays dispense knowledge while gently poking fun at wine insiders.  





 
The Art of Eating
By Joan Reardon, M.F.K. Fisher

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Foodies

Art of Eating

This book is a compilation of some of the most sensuous books on food and wine. Sixty years have passed since these works were written and they continue to delight readers.

If you want to go back to a time before busyness, microwaves, fast food, and food blogs, then get a taste of M.F.K Fisher’s food and wine writing. His dark humor is a reprieve from today’s “look at me” wine and food social media gastronomy content.

 

Wine Reference Books

Sommeliers and wine lovers collect books in much the same way we collect wine. Book collecting is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, for those in the business. Most wine certification programs require prospective sommeliers to read literature produced or recommended by the certifying body.  Wine reference books can be heavy tomes (some weigh in at more than six pounds!) which makes e-reader versions better on the back.  

Some of the books in this genre focus on breadth of coverage for wine servers, while others go in depth on topics like soils, production practices, wine chemistry, or wine region. 

Best, Most Comprehensive Wine Reference Book

Oxford Companion Wine

From “amphora” to “Zinfandel,” this is the wine reference book for serious enthusiasts and those studying for various wine certifications. Comprised primarily of definitions, maps, and images, it also includes topics such as the following: wine regions, history, viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, famous wine people, and labeling and tasting terms. The book won the James Beard Award and many others.

 
The Wine Bible
By Karen MacNeil

Best Wine Reference Book for Tasting a World of Wine

The Wine Bible

Hey, it’s not called The Wine Bible nothing. 

Karen MacNeil’s wine tome checks in at over 1000 pages, so we find Kindle the easiest way to carry around all this wine knowledge. This book is the accumulation of years of tasting and wine education since she got her start in the male-dominated wine world of the 1980s. Where many wine books either skim the surface or go very in depth, Karen’s Wine Bible touches on a breadth of topics for both beginners and intermediate-stage wine lovers.

Its many maps, photos, travel stops, wine flavor profiles, and wine pairing suggestions make this the best wine book for travel to wine regions when you know just a little about wine. This book is good for analytical types who prefer text, tables, and diagrams that are clear and efficient. If you are looking for more infographics and less text, some of the other wine books we recommend here might be a better fit.   

 

Wine Essays and Wine Trends

Essays on trends in wine have emerged as a popular kind of wine writing over the past 10 years. These books often cover hot topics like sommelier and restaurant culture as well as vineyard and cellar practices.  

Best Unpretentious Wine Book of Wine Essays

Wine All the Time

Marissa writes about drinking in the real world, four-letter words and all.

Her journey started with drinking all the “two buck Chuck” wines of the world. Then she made a video series called Wine Time. After working as Mindy Kaling’s assistant for four years, Marissa landed a book deal and a role as Bon Appetit contributor.  

Between all the jokes and LOL moments, Marissa dispenses with some good beginner wine information.

 

Best Journalist-Infiltrates-Wine-Connoisseurship-Culture Book of Wine Essays

Cork Dork

Those wanting a front row seat to “rock-star” sommelier culture will enjoy this book. It reveals the lengths that somms and serious students of wine will go in pursuit of certifications. 

Journalist Bianca Bosker takes an investigative reporter approach to learning the world of wine in New York City. Fans of Kitchen Confidential and other “foodie” books may really enjoy this look into the world of the wine-obsessed.  

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different types of wine books meeting different needs. And we’ve only taken a closer look at wine books written or co-written by women!

Regardless of your wine reading intention, we hope you have enjoyed our recommendations of some of our favorites!

Cheers!








































The Best Corkscrews and Wine Openers for Wine Lovers

Pulltap Classic Corkscrew.jpg

When it comes to opening a bottle of wine, there are a lot of products out there that can do the job.  Clever kitchen stores and gift shops market all types of wine openers to wine enthusiasts, either for our own use or as gifts.  Don’t fall prey to all those wine keys marketed to the home wine consumer.  

When selecting a wine opener, consider the intended application to select the best wine opener:

  • Will you be traveling with the corkscrew?

  • Do you want to give the best wine key to a sommelier friend achieving her latest certification? 

  • Are you simply looking for a perfect wine opener, one that won’t fail three months from now

  • Are you wanting a double hinged wine key that will fit in your sister’s small hand? 

  • Have you fallen for older wines (with their troublesome older corks!) and so need a traditional Ah So style cork puller?

Start with these questions before selecting a wine opener or corkscrew.

Opening a bottle of wine

Since the invention of the wine bottle and cork in the late 17th century, mankind has been designing and patenting tools for getting corks out of bottles.  

Fast forward to today, where in the United States, about 80% of wine is purchased for home consumption.  That means a lot of wine openers in American homes and a proliferation of different types of wine openers and names for these wine-freeing devices.

Corkscrew innovations are a lot like other kitchen innovations, over-engineered with cheap parts to appeal to the gadget junkie. They often end up collecting dust in the kitchen drawer.  Alternatively, many corkscrews in the grocery store or hotel room are cheap knock-offs meant to be disposable.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wine corkscrews for all wine consumers. These wine openers will appeal to casual users as well as serious enthusiasts and sommeliers.  

And in case you need an opener for older bottles with fragile corks, we share with you our recommendation for a cork puller. 

Last, we review one electronic wine opener for those with limited hand mobility or weak hands and or wrists.  

Wine Opener Terminology

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

What is a Waiter’s friend?  Wine Key? Sommelier’s Knife?  Butler’s Friend? Waiter’s Corkscrew?

Don’t be intimidated.  These are all the same thing!

Based upon a German innovation dating back to the late 1880s, this device of many names has been a true friend to sommeliers, waiters, butlers, serious enthusiasts, and casual wine consumers alike.  The design of a sommelier’s knife has not diversified too much since its inception.

We continue to return to this kitchen multi-tool as it is reliable, takes up limited space, and fees robust enough to stand up to the task of liberating that great liquid from the bottle. 

The components of the wine key are the worm (metal helix), the handle, the boot-lever, the foil cutter, and optional bottle cap remover to remove the caps off of sodas or beer.

How To Use a Wine Key

Many wine opening devices on the market aim at simplifying the wine opening process.  In practice, however, it is quite simple to use a wine key to open a bottle of wine. Most of us simply have not been trained on how to open a bottle of wine.  

For an introduction (or refresher!) on wine service, including use of the wine key to open the bottle, check out this video.  

Not too bad, huh?  

How To Open a Bottle of Wine with a Fragile Cork

Perhaps you have an older bottle and the cork just doesn’t look like it will hold together if you apply the force of the wine key worm to it. Or, perhaps you’ve used the waiter’s friend and $#*@!, the cork broke in half and now you are wondering how you are going to get the rest of the remaining cork out.

This is where the cork extractor or cork puller (also colloquially referred to as the Ah So cork puller) comes in handy.

Check out this video on removing fragile corks from older wine bottles or retrieving the lodged piece of a broken cork.

When To Use An Electric Wine Opener

While we recommend the waiter’s friend for most wine opening experiences, we understand that they might not be easy to use for all wine enthusiasts.  

We are all differently abled when it comes to manual dexterity.  If you find removing the foil on the bottle, opening or closing the corkscrew, manipulating the worm and/or levering the cork out of the bottle painful or impossible, you may want to consider using an electric wine opener.

For our recommendation on the best electric opener, keep reading!

Our Wine Opener Recommendations

Best Waiter’s Friends

Hugger Waiter ABS Handle Corkscrew with Serrated Blade

Our favorite classic black corkscrew is this Franmara Hugger from Italy.  The worm is nickel-plated with an etched line running down the spiral. The stainless steel serrated knife cuts through foil easily. The ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) handle is solid.  ABS plastic is quite similar to the strong and smooth three-polymer plastic used in LEGO building blocks and computer keyboards.  

 The corkscrew also features a two-step boot lever. The wine opener is built like a tank, and fits in the hand like a comfortable knife.  

This type of wine key is common in restaurants, wineries, and at catered events so home wine enthusiasts can rest assured that it will last a long time and can be replaced easily if lost. The black matte finish of the handle gives it a classic look.  

Pros: 

  • The wine key’s larger size fits well in large hands

  • The serrated knife is large and can double for opening boxes

Cons:

  • Plastic handle might feel industrial to home users

  • The wine key’s larger size might feel too big in smaller hands


Pulltap's Genuine Classic 500 Double-Hinged Lever Waiters Wine Corkscrew Bottle Opener

Next up is Pulltap’s wine corkscrew from Barcelona, Spain.  This one’s strong reputation for durability makes it one of the most replicated corkscrews, so beware of imitations with names similar to Pulltap!

The Pulltap has a solid body and a strong nickel-plated double-hinged lever. This body/handle has a smooth, ergonomic feel to it. The worm is teflon coated, which makes it great for both natural and synthetic corks.  

Pros:

  • Ergonomic handle great for opening a lot of wines at a time

  • Retractable teflon coated worm good for natural and synthetic corks

  • This corkscrew is available in multiple colors including classic and trending colors

Cons:

  • Smaller sized handle not ideal for large or extra-large hands

  • The stainless steel foil cutter blade is a little on the small side


Laguiole en Aubrac Wine Opener with Juniper Handle

If you (or a lucky recipient) wants a handmade corkscrew from France, Laguiole wine openers come with a wide array of handles including bone, stone, and specialty woods. The metal components are forged in France in mills near Thiels.  The craftsmen making these knives typically apprentice between one and three years. 

Each individual knife is handmade by artisans from southern France and each is truly a piece of art.  Laguiole is not a brand name, rather it is a generic name for a knife originating from Laguiole village. There are several markings on these knives that are of interest: a fly (la mouche) engraved on the springhead; a cross (Shepherd's cross) used by shepherds for prayer; and signature engraving on the spine of the knife - unique to the knife-maker.  

Pros:

  • Hand crafted in France by skilled artisans

  • Corkscrew and foil cutter forged from Sandvik brushed stainless steel

Con:

  • Can be a little “stiff” to use when new, making it difficult to use at first if you are opening a lot of bottles in an evening

  • Single pull corkscrew (some people prefer double-stage corkscrew)


Best Key Chain Bottle Opener

Munkees 3-in-1 Mini Keychain Corkscrew & Bottle Opener Tool with Knife

If you are looking for a well made corkscrew to keep on your keychain (ideal for outdoor pursuits), the Munkees Mini Corkscrew might be the best wine key for camping.  With this easy to carry 3-inch mini corkscrew, you will never have to research again “How to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.”

In addition to being a corkscrew on a chain, the device has a bottle cap opener and a sharp knife.  The tip of the corkscrew is secured and covered by the bottle cap opener.   

Pros:

  • Small size 

  • Can carry on keychain

  • 30-day free return

Cons:

  • Does not have double-action or single-action lever - will need to use brute force to pull the cork out with the T-handle.


Best Cork Puller

Monopol Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller with Cover

This cork puller is great when you need to uncork old vintage wine.  These two-prong cork pullers go by many names, including Ah-So cork puller, Butler’s Thief, Butler’s Friend, or Ah-So style Waiter’s Friend.  

To use one of these cork extractors, simply use a knife or foil cutter to remove the foil from the top of the wine bottle.  Hold the neck of the bottle firmly and insert the longest prong onto one side of the cork between the cork and the inside neck of the bottle, followed by the shortest prong.  Wiggle the extractor prongs while pushing downwards on the hand. Once the cork puller prongs are firmly tweezing the cork, slowly turn the cork puller while holding the bottle to extract the cork.  Check out our video here:  


This particular cork puller is made in Germany and comes in an esthetically pleasing little black box with plush interior, making it a great gift.  The steel prongs and die cast metal ergonomic handle and cover means it will likely outlast all of us! It comes with a five-year warranty.  

Pros:

  • Cork is not damaged during extraction, reducing the chances that little bits of cork crumbs fall into the bottle

  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Requires a little wiggling and pulling, which might be difficult for some with carpal tunnel or other wrist dexterity challenges


Best electric wine opener

Electric Wine Opener Rechargeable Automatic Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter & USB Charging Cable Stainless Steel by Flasnake

While at KnowWines we prefer the classic styles of the waiter’s friend and cork extractors, we know that some wine consumers want or need an electric wine opener.  If you suffer from carpal tunnel, wrist pain, a broken arm, or have use of only one hand, classic wine openers won’t suffice.

In an electric wine opener, we looked for ease of use, sleek design aesthetics, noise level, and warranty.

This wine opener is very easy to use.  One simply needs to cut the foil using the included (free!) foil cutter, then use the down and up arrows on the electric wine opener to first insert the screw then retract the cork from the bottle.  We also liked the energy efficiency of the device - one can open up to 80 bottles on one full charge!

Pros:

  • Attractive beige box - great for gift-giving

  • Quiet

  • Contemporary stainless steel housing

  • Pretty blue and red lights light up during operation

  • Takes 100 - 240 V


The Wine Bottle Opener Round-Up

For almost all bottle opening applications, the classic Waiter’s Friend corkscrew will suffice.  

When selecting the best bottle opener, consider the user and the situation(s) in which bottles will be opened.

In the wine bar and restaurant community, you’ll find our first two picks for good reasons. The Hugger has the feel of a good multi-purpose chef’s knife, while the Pulltap feels like a great paring knife.  They are a good balance of cost and quality - if you lose one, it isn’t the end of the world.

For those looking for a gift for a serious wine collector or a sommelier achieving his/her most recent wine award, the Laguiole wine opener is a lifetime investment and celebration of enduring craftsmanship.  

Outdoor enthusiasts and college students will find the Monkees corkscrew and bottle combination with keychain a practical tool.

And for those who love the ease of use of an electronic wine opener, who may be suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis, the Flasnake Electronic Wine Opener is a great choice.

We hope this blog helps you choose just the right corkscrew for yourself or a friend. For more great wine gift ideas, check out our ultimate guide to gifts for wine lovers.

Cheers!

The Best Wine Refrigerators for Wine Lovers

refrigerator.jpg

In this article, we take a look at the highest rated small wine refrigerators that are ideal for storing approximately 50 bottles of wine.

This type of refrigerator may appeal to any of the following wine lovers:

  • Those seeking a step up from a lower end wine cabinet or perhaps a temporary solution before taking the plunge to a larger cellar down the road.

  • Those undergoing a kitchen remodel who are seeking a sleek, under counter wine refrigerator to fit in with new appliances.

  • Those who have collected a few bottles from their wedding year or childrens’ birth years and are seeking a storage solution for those special bottles.   

  • Single people or couples who have downsized and want to age just a few special bottles.

Do you need a small wine refrigerator?

Before moving on to our recommendations, let’s take a deeper dive into understanding the benefits of small wine refrigerators. It’s important to consider the environmental factors that impact wine and why wines benefit from being stored in cellars. Ideal conditions for wine storage include cool, stable temperature, relatively high humidity, and no light or vibrations. If you drink wines within a couple of weeks of purchasing your wines, then you can get by without a wine refrigerator because the changes caused by improper storage take time to develop.

If you’ve tried some older, properly aged wines — perhaps a Mosel Riesling from the 1980s or a Napa Cabernet from the 1990s — and didn’t enjoy the aged wines, then your preferences don’t warrant investment in a wine refrigerator. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying many age-worthy wines when they are young (though we do recommend bit of research at your local bottle shop on decanting times!).

If you do enjoy storing wine to age, however, you may already have some stored in your kitchen island, coat closet, basement, or bar. It’s not uncommon for wine enthusiasts to have wines stashed throughout their home in several places. Over an extended time, however, these wines can deteriorate if not stored properly.  

Assassins of Wine

Temperature

Temperature variation is one of the biggest enemies of wines as it ages. Wines should be stored at around 55 F (typical cave temperature), however a range of 50 to 58 F is often considered acceptable.

You might think, “Hey, why can’t I store my wine in my refrigerator for the long term, or perhaps in the beer fridge in the garage?” Well, a few unfortunate things can happen when wine is stored at too cool of a temperature for extended periods. The cool temps can slow down the aging process, the cork can dry out and allow refrigerator smells to seep into the wine (gross!), or the wine can be agitated when jostling around food or beer in the fridge, thus damaging the closure or label. Also, if the wine is pushed to the back of the refrigerator, there’s the possibility of freezing which may result in the cork getting pushed out.

Storage in a dark closet also may seem ideal but will have mixed results. If the air conditioning in the house or apartment breaks down, temperatures can escalate. Prolonged periods can lead to the wine taking on a stewed or cooked flavor. Some wines may also start to take on a vinegar taste as the aging process is accelerated.

Light

Like temperature, too much light can also make wine deteriorate. This phenomenon is not unique to wine, as some beers are also known to suffer from light strike. Simply, light is a form of radiation. Ultraviolet and blue portions of the light spectrum carry more energy than the red portion.  

Wine (and beer) have naturally sulphurous compounds. When light strikes wine, unwelcome chemical reactions can occur, leading to “skunky” aromas and flavors. Different colors of glass do provide more protection than others (e.g. dark brown or amber glass), however green and clear bottles are more common.

Since glass color selection has more to do with the aesthetics of the wine in the bottle, those of us wanting to age wines want to reduce light damage as much as possible. Wine refrigerators with dark glass or a solid door significantly reduce the possibility of light getting into the bottles.

Humidity Fluctuation

When storing wines, most bottles are stored on their sides. This keeps the cork moist, reducing the likelihood that oxygen will enter the bottle.  

A typical food refrigerator is a low humidity environment. In there, the cork can dry out. Corks can also dry out in arid environments. The ideal humidity level is around 70%.

Once oxygen has gotten into the wine bottles due to improper storage, the wine will quickly oxidize. Oxidation causes aromas and flavors to change. This negative impact is irreversible.

Vibration

Like light damage, damage caused by vibration is the direct result of energy being transferred to the contents of the bottle. This time it is kinetic energy and not radiation. Vibration damage can result from storing wine on top of a refrigerator or near another vibrating appliance like a treadmill, washer, or dryer. Wine stored under stairs can also suffer from vibration damage.  

The exact biochemical causes are not yet well known, however food chemistry research shows that wines exposed to vibration can lead to a reduction in esters, resulting in dull flavors.  Additionally, wines exposed to vibration can taste sweeter as the amount of propanol and isoamyl alcohol increases as tartaric acids, succinic acids, and esters decrease.

For more on wine assassins (and how to tell if your wine has really gone bad), check out our blog on wine faults.

Advantages of Small Wine Refrigerators

Now that you understand the environmental risks to wine in suboptimal storage conditions, let’s move on to those refrigerators!

When selecting a small wine refrigerator, one of the common regrets is getting too small of a wine cabinet.  As your passion grows, some of the smaller 18-24 bottle wine refrigerators can be outpaced by your collection habit.  

Many small wine refrigerators are also targeting a more entry level clientele and are more likely to have thermoelectric coolers rather than compressors. Too small of a wine refrigerator also makes it difficult to maintain humidity.

Alternatively, some people purchase a wine refrigerator that is too big. The best large wine refrigerators are thousands of dollars and are designed for storing wines for 20 years or more. If you move frequently, large wine refrigerators are difficult to move! Your new or downsized home may not be able to accommodate a magnificently large wine refrigerator.  

Much like the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story, here we review the “just right” wine refrigerators that can fit under the counter or stand alone in a den or walk out basement.  

Things to look For in your Wine Refrigerator

Warranty

Most small wine refrigerators in size and price category we reviewed come with a one year warranty on some components and a five year warranty on the cooling system.  

To extend the warranty of any durable good like a wine cabinet, consider using a premium credit card with extended warranty provisions to make the purchase. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer extended warranties with this type of purchase.  

Keep an electronic record of the customer service number in case you have any issues with your small wine refrigerator.  

Durability

Most issues that buyers face when ordering small wine refrigerators have to do with the initial delivery and installation. Typical issues include damage during shipping such as scratches and dents. Delivery issues are the most frequent cause of poor reviews.

If the unit arrives in good condition and is installed properly, expect about five years of use and potentially up to ten years.

Environmental conditions that shorten the lifespan of small wine refrigerators are typically related to ambient temperature and humidity. Wine refrigerators used in extreme conditions like a garage in Florida or a cold basement in North Dakota may have a shorter lifespan.  

When selecting a small wine refrigerator, pay attention to how much clearance is required under the unit for optimal performance. If the unit vents to the front, it can be used as an under counter unit or as a stand alone unit. If the wine cabinet vents only to the back, make sure that the unit is not installed flat against a wall.

Cooling Technology and Energy Efficiency

Small wine refrigerators are excluded from the federal Energy Star energy program. Some wine refrigerators are more energy efficient than others.  

Thermoelectric units are typically more energy efficient and are best suited for small living spaces like a studio apartment or condo.  

Compressor units use refrigerant like standard refrigerators. They may be less energy efficient than thermoelectric units and may be a little noisier, especially at lower price points. They tend to last longer and work in a broader range of ambient environment conditions.  

Noise and Design Aesthetic

Following delivery issues and bottle count, the third most likely source of complaints on small wine refrigerators is noise. Remember, any durable good with a fan makes noise and sensitivity to this noise varies by person. In this price category, we found that these units will be between 25 and 45 decibels, about the noise level of a quiet conversation.  

Think about where the wine refrigerator will be located. If it will be in a living or entertaining area, pay special attention to noise emitted by the unit. If the unit will be in an unfinished walk out basement or utility room, then noise might be less of a concern.  

Since wine is a luxury good and many of these units end up in kitchens, most wine refrigerators are aesthetically pleasing. Consider whether or not you like the color of the LED lights and trim finish (stainless or black). Also, do you prefer a left or right opening wine cabinet?

Bottle Size Flexibility

Keep in mind that bottle capacity is typically referring to Bordeaux style bottles. Chances are, most wine enthusiasts have bottles that range in size and shape. Frequently, consumers are disappointed when they can’t fit all the expected bottles in the cabinet. Second to delivery issues, the bottle capacity count is a frequent cause of low reviews.  

Wine bottle sizes vary by wine style and region. Champagne and Burgundy bottles typically have a fuller, rounder base, while Bordeaux style bottles are more rectangular in shape.  Flute-shaped Riesling bottles have longer tapered necks.

If your collection has wines from many regions, you will likely need to spend more for flexibility in the interior shelving system, or just live with a fewer number of bottles than the labeled capacity.   

Other Considerations

We review only single temperature zone, small wine cabinets. Dual zone wine cabinets tout flexibility, however we like fewer moving parts that have the potential to break down. We suggest keeping things simple by planning ahead: just slip that rosé or Sauvignon Blanc into your regular refrigerator or an ice bucket 20 minutes before serving if you enjoy them below 55 F.  

We have found that wine cabinets with the same capacity can vary a lot in price. Typically, higher priced units have the following features:

  • Better shipping pallet and packaging material

  • Less assembly

  • More responsive customer service

  • More robust individual components (e.g. glass layers, more metal thickness, heavier duty compressor, shelf quality)

  • Higher end look

  • More shelving flexibility

If you have minor children in the house, or your rent out your home on platforms like AirBnB or HomeAway, we strongly suggest getting a wine refrigerator with a lock.  

Most small wine refrigerators will not need a lot of cleaning or maintenance, other than checking to see if the temperature and humidity are near the ideal conditions.  

If you are concerned about your small wine refrigerator temperature and humidity (let’s say while you are out of town or in case of power loss), you may want to consider putting one of these Moat Temperature & Humidity Wireless Smart Sensors in the wine cabinet. It will send you an alert if either are out of specifications you set.

Now, let’s get to those small wine refrigerators!

Best Unit for Diverse Bottle Sizes:

Allavino VSWR56-1SSRN - 56 Bottle Single Zone Wine Cellar Refrigerator

Of all the units we reviewed in this product category, this one had the longest warranty. The cooling technology is a compressor. The noise level reported is around 40 decibels or less.

The small wine refrigerator comes well packaged and on a pallet. Minimal assembly is required and the small wine refrigerator is easy to get up and running. You can choose if you want the door to open from the left or right. The wine refrigerator is front venting and can be installed under a countertop or as a stand alone unit.

What sets this unit apart from the others is its FlexCount shelving. It can accommodate many different sizes of bottles. This FlexCount shelving is not only practical, its sleek design makes it look premium and contemporary. The wine refrigerator comes with a lock.

Here’s your link for more information on the Allavino wine refrigerator:

Best Unit with Traditional Wood Shelving

AMZCHEF Wine Cooler, Wine Refrigerator, Built-in or Freestanding, 52 Bottle Wine Refrigerator

For wine enthusiasts who love the look of traditional wood shelves, this unit may suit your needs. It is also a front venting unit, enabling under counter or stand alone installation.  This unit comes with adjustable feet, carbon filtration, a safety lock, door alarm to let you know if the door is ajar.

A couple potential downsides: the door is not adjustable (the hinge is on the right) and some assembly is required. The unit fits 52 standard wine bottles, so if your collection contains wider Bourgogne style bottles or broad shouldered Cabernet Sauvignon bottles, you likely are not going to get 52 bottles in the unit.

Here’s your link for more information on the AMZCHEF wine refrigerator:

Best Unit for Basement Bars:

NewAir Built-In Wine Cooler and Refrigerator, 52 Bottle Capacity Fridge with Triple-Layer Tempered Glass Door

If you’re looking for a small wine refrigerator for your basement bar and don’t need the “wow” factor but still want a visually appealing refrigerator, this one may meet your needs.  Like the previous two models, this one also has a compressor cooler. It has a noise level of just under 40 decibels, a reversible door, beech wood shelves, and a moisture container to help with maintaining humidity.  It is also front venting, perfect for under counter or stand alone installations and has a lock. It comes with a one year warranty.

A few potential downsides: it appears as if the legs are not adjustable so one will need to use wood shims to balance the unit on an uneven floor. Some users report that the temperature needs to be reset when electricity goes out and that the bright blue LEDs are very bright.

Here’s your link for more information on the NewAir wine refrigerator:

Best Budget Option:

Kalamera 50 Bottle Compressor Wine Refrigerator Single Zone with Touch Control

This small, quiet wine refrigerator is ideal for townhomes, smaller condominiums, or office spaces.

Budget does not mean giving up on aesthetics. This small wine refrigerator has pleasing blue LED lights, a stainless steel door, and double layer glass. Unlike the other units, it has thermoelectric cooling technology, making it very quiet. At 82 lbs., it was the lightest small wine refrigerator we reviewed. The beech racks are removable to accommodate the wider bottle bases of wines like Pinot Noir and Champagne. It has a one year warranty and does not have a lock.  

Some potential downsides: if you have a lot of non standard wine bottles, you may only be able to fit about 40 bottles. The door is not reversible and the unit does not have a lock. The unit vents toward the back, so it is best used as a stand alone unit and not as an under counter installation.  

Here’s your link for more information on the Kalamera wine refrigerator:

Conclusion

We’ve four similar sized small wine refrigerators for a variety of circumstances, from a premium unit suitable for kitchen installation to a stand alone wine refrigerator perfect for a condo or small business.

If I needed a small wine refrigerator for a home remodel or for a condo, I would select the Allavino. It’s a great value for those interested in something like a EuroCave, but wanting a smaller capacity at a lower price point. We like it due to its flexibility of bottle size and five year warranty on the compressor, as well as other positive reviews we found on the internet regarding delivery and responsiveness of customer service to delivery issues.  

At the end of the day, each of these units covers the intended purpose: keeping about 50 wines cool at a stable temperature with enough humidity and minimal light exposure and vibration.  

Best of luck in selecting your wine refrigerator!

Cheers!

Wine Review: 2010 Couvent des Jacobins Grand Cru Classe

0201.++Couvent+des+Jacobins+2010+(1).jpeg

2010 Couvent des Jacobins Grand Cru Classe

Meet this week's wine, the 2010 Couvent des Jacobins Grand Cru Classe. For those seeking a sub-$60 old-fashioned St-Emilion Grand cru Classe, this is the ticket. Where this grape is grown, the 11 hectares of vineyard estates are dispersed, however the winery is within the village of St-Emilion (learn about this village in our guide to Bordeaux!). The vineyards are comprised of about 85% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Here are our tasting notes:

Appearance: Clear, medium intensity, garnet color, faintly stained legs.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Aromas of fresh plum, red and black cherry, cloves, vanilla, licorice, cedar. pepper.
Flavor: dry, high acidity, high tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) flavor intensity, well balanced. Medium (+) finish.
Conclusion: Very good. Too young, needs 2+ hours decanting in 2018. Premium wine, over $30.

Wine Review: 2013 Adelaida Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard

0202.++2013+Adelaida+Pinot+Noir+HMR+Vineyard.jpg

2013 Adelaida Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard

Meet the 2013 Adelaida Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard. The 34-acre Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) Vineyard is the oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in California's Central Coast (planted in 1964). In addition to the age of the vines, it should be noted that the Pinot Noir is unique in that it grows on its own rootstock. Here are our tasting notes:

Appearance: clear, medium ruby, clear legs
Nose: clean, medium intensity aroma. Aromas of cranberry, strawberry, cinnamon, spice, licorice, leather, tobacco and tar. The wine is fully developed.
Palate: Dry, medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, medium alcohol, medium body, medium flavor intensity, well-balanced. Medium (+) finish lasting more than 30 seconds with pleasant cinnamon.
Quality: very good, drink now, premium price (over $30). Only 650 cases produced. You can purchase the 2016 vintage for $60 online.

Use the link below for a discount on great Pinot Noirs at Wine.com!

Wine Review: 2010 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga

0208.++Chateau+Montelena+Cabernet+Sauvignon.jpeg

2010 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga

Meet this week's wine, the 2010 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga. This is one of the first ever wine purchases from Jolene's first wine visit in Napa Valley. This is a beautiful and historic estate near Calistoga, CA and the wine is known for a "classic," "old world" style featuring ripe California fruit. This wine is not for folks who like a big, bold, highly extracted red wine. However, if you like a more subtle red wine with higher acidity and red fruit characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon, then this could be your wine. Here are our tasting notes:

Appearance: Clear, medium intensity ruby, lightly stained tears.
Aroma: clean condition, medium intensity, red and black cherry, strawberry and blackberry, cinnamon, cedar, herbs, leather. Still developing.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium tannin, medium (+) alcohol, medium body, well balanced, medium (+) finish.
Conclusions: very good quality, can drink now but has potential for aging. Premium wine (over $30).

The wine went well with a grilled pork chop and coleslaw.