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Home wine storage dilemma


#1

Hi all,

I currently have a 32 bottle wine fridge at home, which is pretty much full bar a few spaces, I have 36 bottles in my reserves from EP (I know I know, I am only starting out!), coupled with another 78 inbound from other EP offers - some coming in this month.

Now, my dilemma is, do I buy an additional wine fridge at home so I have enough space to have a mix of wines at home or do I keep them all in my reserves here and withdraw them as and when (with a small lead time).

I know that I can do partial case withdrawals - needs to be in cases of 12 but can be made up from 4 different wines. My wine fridge at home has my first EP case of 2013 Rhone wines, coupled with some other single bottles of wine I have bought over the years.

Was thinking about perhaps buying another smaller wine fridge and have 1 fridge for single bottles and perhaps have the current fridge to hold a selection of multiple bottles - example being say 3 x 2015 Chateau Batailley with the rest in my reserves for a later date. I do also have a few mixed cases which I think I have to withdraw as one which might fill up the fridge quite quickly.

Worth noting that I only use the fridge for storage and its set at 12c, the wine is then removed and either chilled or left to come up to temp when its been selected to be served etc.

Basically just wondering if I should:

  • Keep the 1 fridge and withdraw from my reserves in cases of 12/mixed case when there is space
  • Buy another small fridge and split single bottles and part straight cases and take more out my reserves
  • Buy a big fridge and withdraw more wine from my reserves so I have more of a selection at home

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#2

I think it depends on where you see the size of your cellar going. A big ‘no frills’ storage cabinet, at the right price, can make financial sense against annual storage costs. However, a 30 bottle one is less likely to do so.

I have 300 bottle size Climadiff. In practice it holds about 230-240 max given differing bottle shapes etc. However, if that means I can hold 15-20 cases of wine at home and not pay storage thats a saving of £150-200 a year. Cabinet cost just over £1k from memory, so payback is about 5-7 years excluding running costs which arent that high as there are several months of the year when it’s not on much due to ambient temperature.

A small cabinet doesn’t cost as much but the price difference isn’t proportionate so cost savings are less.


#3

Thanks for that, I was looking at some of the Climadiff ones, I guess I need to work out how many wines I would probably have vs the storage cost at The Wine Society vs the cost of the fridge + running costs etc - will try and work out a break even cost and perhaps share it on here once I do.

Do you know what your annual running costs for that size fridge is for you?

I do agree with the bottle sizes though - I have Bordeaux, Burgundy and German/Alsace flute bottles, usually have to top and tail them to get some to fit or mix them up a bit - not ideal for easy location of bottles!


#4

I have had Climadiff for 3 years or so, no problems, touch wood. It also operates in quite a wide temperature range, 0-32 c so can go in my garage. I’m sure the garage was a bit below freezing a few nights this winter but it didn’t seem to bother it.

I don’t know annual running costs, but it isn’t much in power terms as my bills are pretty much the same. Depends a lot on how often the motor is on.

If you think that bottle location is a challenge in a 30 bottle cabinet, just wait until you get a 300 one! There is a chalkboard on the inside of the door to keep a record of which shelf different wines are on which does help, but only to a degree…


#5

That’s good to know, might just look at their site to see what the actual running costs are but the main expense would be the unit itself I think - will look to create a break even sheet to see at what point the number of bottles vs the storage costs vs the cost of the wine fridge makes sense.


#6

Just quickly worked out a few stats in terms of break even, using the current reserve rental cost for The Wine Society and looking at the number of bottles vs the number of years kept I can then see how much the rental costs over the life of those wines.

Using £1k as a base price for a fridge with 300 bottles it would seem that it would break even in around 5 years of storage - which makes sense if you have wines that are stored for 5+ years.

If all the wines you have needed to be stored for 10 years then you would need around 144 bottles to break even - having any more than that you would be saving.

With noting that I haven’t factored in the running costs but certainly quite handy to work out how best to go forward. Example being is that if you have less than 72 bottles its cheaper to store them in reserves rather than buying a £1k fridge - saying that you wouldn’t need a larger fridge to store 72 bottles.

Think I might look at exact models of fridge for capacity vs price and then work out break evens on those.


#7

Main cost will be the unit itself. A fridge doesn’t use much power and a wine cabinet is similar and should be opened less often (!) .

If you have a regular flow of wines for storing, it doesn’t really matter how long each wine ages for whether it’s 3, 5 or 10 years as there will always be a stock. It’s when you begin to decumulate that it matters.


#8

Indeed, just looking at a few options, here are some examples I have found just looking at current costs vs capacity on winestoreagecompany:

Climadiff with 120 capacity @ £799, full capacity takes 10 years to pay off
Climadiff with 196 capacity @ £1099, full capacity takes 8 years to pay off
Climadiff with 264 capacity @ £1149, full capacity takes 7 years to pay off
Climadiff with 294 capacity @ £1299, full capacity takes 7 years to pay off

It would seem that the pay off time drops fairly fast initially but then takes about the same to pay off for the larger ones.

I think as long as you keep them stocked over 80% all the time it should be worth while though - payback seems to start at around 40% capacity just looking at a few quick sums. Basically if you aren’t using more than 40% of the wine cooler then it won’t pay back, using between 40-80% of the wine cooler the payback improves, more than 80% of capacity its at its peak payback time.


#9

The fuller they are the more efficiently they will operate too. Mine is usually at 75-80% capacity. I think that the 294 bottle one cost me a bit less than the price above, maybe £1100 or so but that was 3-4 years ago.


#10

Hi @M1tch , I would second the approach mentioned by @MarkC as this is exactly what I do, with only one difference - that is I picked up an older storage cabinet from eBay for ~£150. It makes the maths much more favourable in terms of payback on the investment versus per case storage storage costs. If you have 15 cases your break even is 1 year. My view was that there is very little to go wrong in these cabinets, and worst case scenario you have to pick up another in due course.

In terms of purchasing them, there is a slow but steady supply on eBay/Gumtree and you just have to be patient for one to come up locally at the right price.

Mine lives in the garage as long term storage, and then I have a small 12 bottle chiller set at 11C in the house as a “holding pen” for the wines to be drunk in the immediate future.


#11

@Alchemist - agreed!

Unfortunately, when I was looking there wasn’t a lot coming up of the right size and spec that was anywhere near me, and the maths changes quite a bit if I have to source one from the SE of England! I looked for nearly a year then decided to buy new. My choice was a bit restricted in that a fair number have the lower bound of operating temperature as 5c or even 10c, which rules out a garage in Scotland!


#12

Hmmm a used wine fridge might be a good option, might look to put it in either the kitchen or dining room (guess depending on how nice it looks ) although I do have space in the garage but temperature depending.

Will perhaps put a ‘watch’ on ebay/gumtree to see if there are any locally when I am ready - the garage is still a bit full of boxes from when we moved in a while back so filling the garage with a wine fridge along with a engine I am rebuilding might not be the best at the moment!


#13

It’s worth looking around the one I have and not used ? was an ex demo with a small side dent, it was 40% off and there some good second hand ones if you choose the right make and even the two temperature zone ones can be found discounted from reputable dealers.
And ebay does come up with some good makes and models of all sizes.
I should have added that some makes are very expensive and being really not much more than a fridge it is difficult to justify the price, fridges are pretty reliable whatever the make, the two zone ones are better if you store forlong periods and there are three zone ones but you pay for the priviledge.
You have to justify the outlay not just in the costs as many here have explained but also what you put in there, if it is mostly top end expensive wines it makes sense if not the cost per bottle rockets.


#14

Guessing I should stick with a known make like Climadiff or Eurocave?


#15

That was my approach - I have a Transtherm cabinet which has the advantage of having both heating and cooling circuits meaning it’s suitable for use in a garage etc, even on frosty evenings. Not all of the older cabinets have both so is worth checking.


#16

Thanks for the heads up!


#17

Neck labels should do the trick…


#18

Yeah that should help, currently an issue as I am top and tailing some bottles to make them fit on the racks, its a bit more obvious if I can see the capsule etc.

Sounds like I should get a larger used branded wine cabinet for the garage and then decant wines that are ready for drinking into the smaller 32 bottle fridge in the dining room (as an example).


#19

definitely buy the biggest you can fit and afford (in that order!) my liebherr is supposed to hold 168 bottles, based on Bordeaux bottles but if you collect Rhones. Burgundies etc that amount soon goes down and gets worse if the producer has used oversize bottles…
mind you if you drink a lot of Riesling you may be able to store more than quoted capacity!!


#20

No point buying a small one.

Buy the biggest you can afford – and it still won’t be big enough before long.

There’s a difference between a wine fridge and temperature controlled storage such as Eurocave. First is intended for short term in order to serve wines at correct temperature, second is for long term aging and intended to replicate cellar conditions