Wine Merchandiser Buyers' Guide
Wine merchandisers are known by many other names, including wine refrigerators, wine coolers, and wine bottle chillers. No matter what you call them, the function they provide – keeping your wines properly chilled – is crucial to any business that doesn't want to waste or harm its product. Neglecting to store or serve wine at ideal temperatures negatively impacts the way it tastes to customers. Although casual wine drinkers might not notice the difference, wine connoisseurs certainly will, and storing or serving wine improperly could damage your reputation.
Choosing the Right Commercial Wine Cooler
Depending on its size, a commercial wine cooler can store from 32 to 165 bottles, so you'll need to calculate how much bottle storage space you really need. You also need to decide between a commercial wine cooler with one zone or two. Having two zones gives you the flexibility to set a temperature for red wines in one section and for white wines in the other, which is great if you want to serve wines from the cooler. Although 55 degrees F is an acceptable temperature for all wines to be stored at, the optimal temperature for serving red wines is closer to 60 or 65 degrees F. Many two-zone units will come with separate thermostats for each side that show the optimal temperature for the given type of wine.
It's also important to know where your wine merchandiser will be placed. If it's going to be visible to your patrons, you'll want to consider investing in a commercial wine cooler with glass doors. With glass doors, your wine cooler can double as a wine bottle display and provide an attractive way to showcase your wine selection to customers. Even if your commercial wine cooler will be hidden away in the kitchen, having glass doors will let the staff see what's available without having to open the doors to look. However, glass doors can become smudged with prints or scratched over time, so a solid door model might be a good option if it's going to be placed in a high-traffic, behind-the-scenes area.
Stainless steel, which is quite durable, is a popular material for constructing wine coolers. Some models might be made entirely of stainless steel, while others only have stainless steel components. For example, a wine merchandiser might have a stainless steel door frame but a black-vinyl-covered aluminum exterior. The unit's shelves might be constructed out of stainless steel, chrome, or wood. Shelves are generally tilted, as this allows you to store more and prevents corks from drying out, but those supports can also be flat or scalloped.
Larger wine coolers are meant to be standalone, floor models, but many with smaller bottle capacities are designed to fit under a counter or be built in alongside your lower cabinets.
Store More than Just Wine
If you do end up with extra space, a wine cooler can be used to store other beverages. Champagne, sparkling wines, and most beers can be stored at 55 degrees, which means that you can put them in alongside your white wines until they're ready to be served. Just remember that champagne and sparkling wines should be served ice cold, so you'll want to put those in a bucket of ice before serving them to your customers.