One of the most frequent questions we get asked about our wine coolers is whether the bottle capacity listed in the manufacturers promotional materials are indeed accurate?
The answer is yes, but with a firm asterisks. The asterisks in this case denotes that the numbers quoted are the maximum possible bottles that can be stacked inside the wine cooler on the set of shelves provided as standard IF all bottles are Bordeaux bottle shaped. Whilst this is a fair way to compare different fridges to one another, it's a rare measure of how the wine cooler may work for you in reality.
Unless you're the type of person who only drinks Bordeaux (or potentially Brunello di Montalcino, Napa Cabs, Rioja or Barolo) and never ventures off into Alsace, Burgundy, Chateauneuf du Pape, Champagne, Sherry, Port, Dessert wines or even... straw bottomed Chianti, it's unlikely the wine fridge will fit the number of bottles you require. However, there are tips and tricks to maximise the capacity of any wine cabinet and today we'll share them with you.
How to increase the capacity of your wine fridge
Stack the same type of bottles on each shelf
Nothing will reduce the capacity of your wine cooler faster than having Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy bottles on the same shelf especially if your shelf holds many rows of wine, like a wine cabinet for instance. Keeping the wine fridge uniform will improve the internal capacity significantly and is our greatest practical tip.
Perhaps not an Einstein level idea, but one simple way to increase your internal capacity is to remove shelves and stack more bottles on the same shelves. Wine cabinets often contain very few shelves for this exact reason, but if you have a smaller wine cooler you can often sneak in another row by removing a shelf.
Buy a single zone wine cooler
This may be closing the door after the horse has bolted, but if you're looking for a new wine cooler and want the largest capacity possible then the best solution for you would be a single zone wine cooler. When browsing our wine coolers you'll notice that many models come in both a single and a dual zone, and the bottle capacity is always greater in the single zone because the creation of that separated extra zone takes up precious space, space perhaps better served for wine bottle storage.
Pick a wine cooler with MIX shelving
Knowing in advance you have a mix of bottle sizes, choosing a wine cabinet designed to hold them makes a lot of sense. The Swisscave range have MIX shelving which alternate between Bordeaux and Burgundy optimised shelves. The new ECELLAR185 from La Sommeliere has specially designed shelving that also accommodates all bottles, including Champagne, an amazing wine cabinet for the fan of a range of wines.
Keep NV Champagne and 'rack' bottles out of the wine fridge
Another simple tip but a smart one, don't waste your internal wine fridge capacity with wines that you don't really need to cellar. If you have some Picpoul de Pinet or Joven Riojas in your wine cabinet, perhaps they would be better placed on a smart £50 wine rack in the kitchen rather than taking up space in your wine fridge?
What different bottle types exist?
Amazingly, there are dozens of bottle shapes. This can cause a nightmare for wine companies trying to ship wines in standard bottles. There seems to be a new Provencal Rose in a funky bottle shape out every season but in reality 99% of the wine produced in the wine world comes in half a dozen bottle shapes.
Bordeaux shaped bottle
So called because it originated in Bordeaux but has travelled the world with many top Australian, Chilean, Californian, Spanish and Italian regions adopting this wine bottle shape for their own. Bottle styles tend to follow grape varieties too, your Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel wines are most frequently found in Bordeaux shaped bottles.
Burgundy shaped bottle
Once again, the name hails from whence it came. This bottle dominates both Pinot and Chardonnay across the world and especially in Burgundy, spreading down to Beaujolais and across the water to the US where Mid Californian Pinot Noirs are continuing to grow in cult status. Wider at their base, these wines will erode your stated storage capacity but who can live without Pinot Noir?
Alsace flute shaped bottle
Once synonymous with German 'Hock', these bottles are the classic style of the Alsace region and everything is bottled in them including Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. These long, thin bottles are among the few that may actually increase your wine fridge's stated storage capacity.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine
The very reason many people buy a wine fridge at all is to cellar or serve Champagne at the ideal temperature. However, Champagne bottles are the widest bottles on the market and eat into storage capacity as voraciously as we Brits drink them. You'll find this bottle shape in Cava, Franciacorta, Prosecco and English Sparkling Wine. There are certain wine coolers that have extra wide gaps between shelves especially to accommodate Champagne, the Dunavox Grande range, for example.
Port and Dessert Wines
These wines run the gamut of bottle varieties including halfies. The high shouldered Port may not sit snugly with a bottle of Sauternes, Sherry or Madeira but what wine fridge is complete with them?
How big can wine bottles get?
Whilst you can potentially get a magnum inside most wine coolers we really recommend you do stop there! Wine can be sold in bottles up to the kingly Solomon sized 18L (that's the equivalent of 24 bottles in one) but even the more readily available double magnum (3l) or jerobaum (6l) would heavily decrease the wine cooler capacity (and put strain on the shelves).
I have a mixed collection, which wine cooler should I buy?
For oenophiles with a mixed bag of wines the choice of which wine cooler you want to buy will come down to price, location of the wine cooler and whether you want to mature the wine over time or drink it over the next couple of years.
Those with a lot of different shaped wine bottles who want to cellar over the longer term are best with a wine storage cabinet or freestanding wine fridge with only a few, strong shelves to maximise capacity.
Those with many wine bottle types but who want a wine fridge for service should probably consider a dual zone with MIX shelving, any of the dual zone Swisscaves would work well.
If you have questions about the best wine cabinet to buy for your particular wine collection feel free to call us or use the chat facility for expert help.