White wines are best kept between 44- and 57-degrees Fahrenheit. Lighter, zestier wines such as Pinot Grigio can be kept cooler. Meanwhile, oaky or drier wines such as the ever-popular Chardonnay are better towards the upper end of the thermometer. No matter which white wines you have on your menu, keeping it too cool will cause it to lose its flavor.
Sparkling wines such as Prosecco and Champagne are best chilled at the cooler end of the spectrum, typically 38 to 50 degrees F.
A light red wine such as Pinot Noir should be kept at a cool temperature of 53 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Light red wines that have a heavy fruit taste like Red Zinfandels can be kept a bit warmer. Lastly, a rich red should be only a touch warmer than room temperature. Heavy in tannins, these wines are best kept at 63 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Examples of these wines include Cabernets, Shirazes, and Merlots.
When you begin your search for a commercial wine cooler, the first thing you need to consider is how many bottles you are going to chill at one time. The smallest countertop and undercounter models can store fewer than 10 bottles, while larger ones can store a few dozen. Full-size floor model units can store several dozen bottles of wine.
Number of Zones
If you want to serve all your wine at the optimal temperature, you'll need to store both red and white wines in a wine bottle chiller. Since more establishments are realizing that all wine should be chilled, many models now come with multiple zones, with independently-adjustable thermostats. Models with up to three zones are available so you can store sparkling, white, and red wines at their ideal temperatures.
Solid and glass doors are available. If you are placing your model where it will be viewed by customers, you may want a glass door wine bottle display. These allow customers to see what wines your establishment has available. On the other hand, if you are placing the unit where customers may not be able to see it, you may prefer a solid door model. These are typically more economical and energy efficient.
- Black laminate is the least-expensive choice for exterior finish. Compared to stainless steel, it does not show finger prints as visibly, but it is more susceptible to scratches and chips. That type of damage can not only mar the appearance, it can also open the body of the unit up to the development of rust.
- Stainless steel is more durable and more expensive than black laminate. This material has a classic look, but requires cleaning more frequently as it shows fingerprints and scratches more than laminate.
There are several specialty options designed to make a unit fit your establishment's needs better. For example, ADA compliant models are offered that can easily slide underneath a 34-inch-high ADA-compliant counter.
Some models are available with horizontal storage racks for wine bottles. For establishments that sell expensive wine, this is an excellent option. Horizontal storage allows the wine bottle to be stored on its side, which is the preferred way of storing. When a bottle is stored on its side, it keeps the cork wet, air bubbles remain at the shoulder, and sediment is dispersed uniformly. This is frequently done for expensive wines, but most restaurants do not do this for their low- or moderately-priced wines.
Wooden racks and LED lighting are also available. Both options can add a touch of class to your unit for a relatively small increase in cost. Besides giving an elegant glow, the LED lighting will also save on electricity and needs replacing less often than traditional lights.