Wine coolers are a great investment for anyone that enjoys their wine and wants a selection of bottles ready-to-drink at all times – but did you know a wine cooler can do so much more than store wine? Here’s a few ideas for other ways to use a wine refrigerator.
Storing other drinks
Let’s start with the obvious – storing other drinks in your wine cooler. Any soft drinks that can be stored at ambient temperatures (which is most of them) can be kept in a wine cooler, too. The same goes for other alcoholic beverages including beers and ciders – there’s nothing wrong with using a wine fridge for beer, thereby freeing up space in your main fridge.
It’s worth noting that milk-based drinks will need to be stored at a much lower temperature than your wines if they’re to last longer than a few days. That said, if you’re drinking milk quickly (for example, if you’re serving up milk-based cocktails at a party) storing it in your wine cooler for a few hours is fine.
If you’re going to be throwing a party and making large amounts of punch, or mass-producing margaritas on a miniature production line in your kitchen, then a wine cooler will provide an excellent place to store them until it’s time to serve them up. For those looking to impress, presenting cocktails at the right temperature is crucial. In this sense, extra fridge space is sure to be welcome!
Storing food in a wine cooler
Can you store food in a wine cooler? The answer is “sometimes”. It depends on the food, and it pays to be careful. The average kitchen fridge is designed to be slightly cooler than the average wine cooler, as only the palest and sweetest wines benefit from being served below 6°C.
Fruits and vegetables can be kept for longer in a wine cooler than they might be in a bowl on your kitchen table, or a sack in your utility room. Different fruits and vegetables will thrive at different temperatures, and so some minor adjustments might be necessary.
You can also use a wine refrigerator to store cheese. That said, the softer the cheese, the cooler the storage space will need to be. A tub of cream cheese will need to be kept refrigerated; a block of parmesan is a little more forgiving.
If you’re thinking of using a wine fridge for cheese, then start with the harder stuff. Harder cheese can cope with temperatures up to fifteen degrees, while soft or blue cheeses should be kept beneath 8°C, at the very least.
Perhaps just as important as the temperature of your cheese is the ambient humidity. Wrapping your cheese will prevent it drying out, while guarding against the growth of mould. The cheese paper you get from specialist cheesemakers is ideal for this purpose. If you’re going to use cling film, then be sure to cover only the surface you’ve cut – wrapping the entire block will allow too much moisture to build up. If you’re storing lots of different sorts of cheese, then invest in a sealable cheese-box, or use a Tupperware container. The air circulation that comes from picking out a bit of cheese and scoffing it should guard against mould growth.
For best results, you’ll want to bring your cheese up to room temperature before serving – when cheese is too cold, it’ll numb your tongue slightly and prevent you from getting the full flavour. Or, you can bake it. There are few things in life better than crusty loaf dunked into a block of molten camembert.
Curing meat in a wine cooler
Special mention must go to the wine cooler’s capability as a curing environment. Wine coolers must maintain a decent level of humidity in order to stop corks drying out – but they’ll also circulate the air inside and slowly dehydrate whatever meat you’ve hung in there. Keep things at around 11-14°C and the humidity will hover somewhere around 60%, give or take a few percentage points. Happily, these are the perfect conditions for slowly dehydrating meat – though you’ll need to allow extra time if your cooler’s a little moister than ideal. You can check out a guide to curing prosciutto in a wine cooler here.
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Using a wine fridge as a humidor
As with wine, cigars should be stored in temperature and humidity controlled environments – like a wine cooler.
Bear in mind however that thermoelectric wine coolers are better suited to storing cigars than compressor units – simply because humidity levels are more stable in thermoelectric coolers.
How to store cigars in a wine cooler
The ideal temperature and humidity levels for storing cigars depends in part on the preferences of the smoker themselves; that said between 60%-70% humidity and 18-21°C is generally considered optimal.
Alternatively, find out more about wine and wine coolers in our other guides: