Why doesn't my wine fridge feel cold?

Wine fridge not cooling?

If your wine fridge doesn't feel cold there could be a myriad of reasons. The best way to quickly resolve whether you have an issue or not would be to get a digital thermometer and place it in a glass in the middle of the wine fridge to get a true sense of what temperature your wine fridge is currently at.

A hot or a warm wine fridge?

A warm to the touch wine fridge - The outside of a wine fridge is often warm - If you're expecting your wine fridge to feel cold on the outside to the touch it's quite unlikely. Wine fridges vent warm air, sometimes from a vent at the front, sometimes from all around, and can be warm to the touch. A wine fridge that is warm to the touch on its frame may well be cooling fine and it's best to use a thermometer in a glass of water inside the wine fridge to see if its at the correct temperature.

A hot to the touch wine fridge - If the wine fridge is hot to the touch, this would indicate a potential problem with the compressor depending on where the wine fridge is hot. If the wine fridge is hot it would be prudent to contact the manufacturer with a description of where the wine fridge feels hot and how hot.

Reasons a wine fridge feels warm

Compressor Operation - One of the primary reasons why a wine fridge might feel warm is the normal operation of its compressor. The compressor is a vital component responsible for cooling the interior of the fridge. As it works to regulate the temperature, it generates heat in the process. This heat is expelled from the back or sides of the appliance, causing the external surface to feel warm. Understanding that this is a normal part of the cooling cycle can alleviate concerns about the wine fridge's performance.

Location and Ventilation - The placement of your wine fridge plays a crucial role in its efficiency. If the appliance is positioned in a confined space or lacks proper ventilation, it may struggle to dissipate the heat generated during operation. Ensure that the wine fridge is placed in a well-ventilated area with sufficient space around it. Adequate airflow allows the heat produced by the compressor to dissipate more efficiently, preventing the exterior from becoming excessively warm.

Ambient Temperature - The ambient temperature of the room where your wine fridge is located can impact its performance. If the room temperature is high, the wine fridge's compressor has to work harder to maintain the desired internal temperature. This increased workload can result in a warmer exterior. To mitigate this, consider placing the wine fridge in a room with a consistent and moderate temperature, avoiding extremes that could affect its efficiency.

Excessive Load and Poor Organisation - Overloading your wine fridge or organizing it poorly can impede proper airflow inside the appliance. Bottles tightly packed together can create hotspots and disrupt the cooling process. Ensure that your wine bottles are organized in a way that allows for optimal air circulation. Additionally, avoid overloading the wine fridge beyond its recommended capacity to prevent excessive heat buildup.

Faulty Components - While heat generation during the cooling process is normal, excessively high temperatures on the exterior of the wine fridge may indicate a malfunction. Faulty components such as a malfunctioning thermostat or a failing compressor can lead to overheating. If you observe a significant increase in temperature or notice other signs of malfunction, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer or a professional technician for an inspection and necessary repairs.

Wine Fridge Temperature Taking

How to take a proper temperature reading of a wine fridge

  1. Invest in a Reliable Thermometer:

The first and foremost step in accurately gauging your wine fridge's true internal temperature is acquiring a reliable thermometer. Opt for a high-quality, digital thermometer specifically designed for wine storage. These thermometers often come equipped with features such as temperature memory, alarms, and precision sensors, providing you with the most accurate readings. These are best for long term readings, however, for a one off reading placing a medical thermometer in a glass of water for several hours will gauge the most accurate reading.

  1. Placement Matters:

Where you position the thermometer inside the wine fridge can impact the accuracy of the temperature reading. Place the thermometer in the middle of the fridge, away from direct contact with bottles or the cooling unit. The middle means both height and depth and width middle. This ensures that the reading represents the average temperature of the entire storage space rather than the localised temperature around specific bottles.

  1. Stabilise Before Reading:

Before taking a temperature reading, it's crucial to allow the wine fridge to stabilise. Opening the door frequently or adding new bottles can temporarily affect the internal temperature. For accurate readings, leave the door closed for at least four hours before using the thermometer.

  1. Avoid Surface Temperature:

When taking a reading, make sure the thermometer is not in direct contact with any surfaces inside the wine fridge or bottles. Placing it on a shelf or hanging it from a rack ensures that the thermometer reflects the air temperature rather than the temperature of the surrounding materials.

  1. Check for Consistency:

For a comprehensive assessment, take multiple temperature readings at different times and on various days. This helps identify any potential fluctuations in temperature, allowing you to address issues promptly. Consistency in temperature is crucial for the long-term preservation of your wine collection. Wine fridges are constantly battling the external temperatures and if set at 12°C, the wine fridge may be 2-3°C outside of that at any one time but should average at the temperature you set it at.

  1. Calibrate Your Thermometer:

Periodically calibrate your thermometer to ensure its accuracy. You can do this by placing the thermometer in a glass of ice water for a few minutes and confirming that it reads close to the freezing point of water, which is 32°F (0°C). Calibration guarantees that your thermometer provides precise readings, enhancing your ability to monitor and maintain the ideal storage conditions for your wines.

  1. Record and Analyse:

Keep a log of your temperature readings over time. Regular monitoring allows you to identify patterns, potential issues, or seasonal variations that may impact the wine fridge's performance. Having a record enables you to take proactive measures to address any deviations from the desired temperature range.

  1. Act Promptly on Abnormal Readings:

If you notice consistent deviations from the recommended temperature range, take prompt action. Check for any obstructions to the airflow, ensure proper ventilation, and inspect the cooling system for any malfunctions. If issues persist, consult the manufacturer's guidelines or seek professional assistance to rectify the problem.

Taking a proper temperature reading of your wine fridge is a fundamental aspect of responsible wine storage. By investing in a reliable thermometer, paying attention to placement, allowing for stabilisation, avoiding surface contact, checking for consistency, calibrating your thermometer, recording readings, and acting promptly on abnormal results, you can ensure that your wine collection thrives in optimal conditions. Regular monitoring not only preserves the quality of your wines but also enhances the overall enjoyment of your oenophilic pursuits.

Sarah newton

Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.