This week we received the following question from Gregg in New York:

Hello – I love the website and tasting articles. I have a question regarding wine storage units. I live in a small rental apartment. Do you have any suggestions for wine coolors (16 bottle to 50 bottles) in size, preferably thermoelectric? (I’d rather not deal with a compressor). Thank you!

What followed was a series of emails among the members of the Editorial Board, “did we do a review of one of those last year?,” “what kind do you have?”, and “what is ‘thermoelectric’?” The chatter was finally interrupted by one member asking:

Folks, aren’t we focusing a bit too much on the micro, rather than the macro?

WHY does he need a wine cooler?

WHAT wine is he storing?

HOW LONG will he store it? Isn’t this really an opportunity to talk about how the whole idea of a small wine cooler, other than as a glass-doored kitchen accessory, is really unnecessary? Are you buying wine to drink in the next two months? Put it on a shelf, then in the fridge anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours before, depending on what you’re drinking. Are you buying wine to put up for a year or two, perhaps even four? A box in the back of a closet will work unless the apartment has no A/C or heat, right? Did you buy a case of ’05 Margaux you’re planning to pass on to your grandchildren? You don’t want that in the kitchen wine fridge anyway. No insurance, too much light, opening and closing, etc. You might be better off, having dropped $50K on a case of wine, paying a monthly fee for a cubby in a storage facility.

A wine cellar is a wonderful thing. It is a terrific place to put up great bottles of wine and cases of wine for decades. Little wine refrigerators started as an appliance to put in the space that your trash compactor has been taking up for years, even though nobody can remember the last time it worked. They are a nice way to say “welcome to my kitchen – I like wine.” They are fun wine accessories. They are wine racks that keep the wine cool. But if they are being used for the wine you drink every week, opened when you buy wine and when you drink wine, your best long-term storage solution might be to put the everyday drinkers in the pretty little fridge, and the fine wines in a box in the back of a closet.

So, what is “thermoelectric?”

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  • Couldn’t agree more with you, Palate Press. And like that at first, like most wine lovers, you overthought the question. We do that a lot, when it comes to wine :-). Because most wines are produced to be consumed within 1-2 years, most of us don’t need a wine “cellar” but just storage. The box in the closet works, or, if you don’t have the space, there are great options for wall-mounted shelving that are quite attractive.

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