20060626

The heat is off

Chambrer wine bottle cellar appliance refrigerator 11 bottle capacity
A welcome addition to any wine enthusiast's un-air-conditioned home! Yes, my wine fridge is finally here.

Chambrer wine cellar appliance refrigerator front profile         Chambrer wine cellar appliance refrigerator door

It looks like an extremely hefty microwave oven. It's about the size of one of those industrial ones they use in fast-food kitchens or the old-fashioned kind that used to pervade atop the Whirlpool range on The Price Is Right. Of course the marked difference is on the inside...

Chambrer wine cellar appliance refrigerator inside view stocked
Barker's Beauties never opened up any home appliance to reveal 9 + 2 bottles in sweet 13-degree slumber! (I took out the eleventh bottle to better capture the inside of the fridge, but if you want to see what I'm packing in there, check online at manageyourcellar.com, the free cellar management software I use.)

Chambrer wine cellar appliance refrigerator side viewI've been calling these units "wine fridges", but the manufacturer Chambrer calls them wine cellars. Installing it just ahead of the crest of summer's first heatwave, I can see why their term is more appropriate: You won't feel a gust of cool air coming out of this thing. Its lowest setting only seven degrees Celsius. It took a long time -- like an entire day -- to chill things down to cellar temps from the normal summer temperature of my apartment. But once it reached the target temp, a small motor which requires the same amount of power as a 100-Watt lightbulb seems to maintain levels quite easily. So far so good. My sister and her boyfriend set up the stand-up floor model at Christmas and I haven't heard any complaints from them.

Another thing that really made me realize this is more of a storage device than a refrigerator is the fact that I really still require my regular refrigerator to serve wines properly, especially in the summer. Even if you remove a special wine from storage for dinner, it's going to heat up fast on a hot Montreal night. This means I'm likely to slide the bottle inside the fridge door for chilling until my glass needs refilling.

When you're serving a lot of people, heat between pours may not become an issue. In my sauna-like surroundings, there's a complex formula involving speed of wine guzzling and ambient room temperature that is just beyond my reach so I just take a trial-and-error approach. In any case, party wines are less likely to be among those sacred few bottles you've got cellared away in perfect storage conditions. (To jump to a) Conclusion: Perhaps a wine cellar for storage buffered by another wine cellar for serving wouldn't be such a bad idea.

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