Wine Storage: Modern Machine Vs. Traditional Cellar

Vinotemp Wine Dispenser
The Vinotemp Wine Dispenser is the first wine dispenser that doubles as a storage container for up to 88 bottles of wine. The 21 cubic feet refrigerator has dual temperature zones. The top zone is controlled and is where four bottles are stored on the door to dispense wines by the glass. The wine quality is maintained using nitrogen or argon gas. India Hynes, CEO of Vinotemp discusses her company’s wine dispenser.
The Beehive
Self-described Bohemian restaurant, The Beehive in Boston, Massachusetts, stores its wine in a traditional cellar. It’s a 30 ft. x 8 ft. room with cooling and humidity controls. It does have a refrigerated section that holds sparking wines, champagnes and some white wines. Wine director and sommelier Bertil Jean-Chronberg manages the cellar.
Why is this storage method best for the wine?

Wine tastes different overnight once it’s been opened. If you use nitrogen or argon gas it tastes the same for weeks. It maintains the wine and stops it from oxidizing and aging. Once you remove the cork, you almost have a ticker going so you have to drink the wine pretty quickly. The gas preserves it and prevents the oxygen, which is not wine’s friend when storing open bottles of wine, from altering the flavor. Even day-old wine will not taste as good. So it’s beneficial for all wines, but especially more expensive ones.

The cellar is 56 to 59 degrees all the time. The worst thing for wine is fluctuations of temperature. It also keeps the wine still. If you want to preserve wine and store wine properly you leave it alone—you don’t even clean the bottles. By contrast, with the new refrigeration systems the only way you can see what wine you have is to pull open the drawer of the refrigerator. It also allows us to bring wine to the table at the right temperature. If a red is a little too cold from the cellar we bring it in advance to the table and give the wine time to go up few degrees before serving.

What is the advantage of this system to the restaurant?

It allows restaurants to serve several wines by the glass and know they can keep them for several weeks—at least two, conservatively. The patrons can taste more expensive glasses of wine because the restaurant can open more expensive bottles and be assured that while they’re being dispensed they will also be preserved.

This can be a marketing point, too, for a restaurant: Come and taste wines by the glass that you would not otherwise be able to taste.

It’s a question of managing and being capable of manipulating your wines very quickly because if you have a cellar and walk in it, everything is separate in shelves and the wine storage permits you to very quickly know what you have on your shelves. It also allows you manage big volumes of wine—we have 2,500 bottles—and to be very efficient on managing and ordering.

We don’t use the cellar as a marketing point but I do think it’s very romantic to have a cellar. 

What is the advantage of this system to the restaurant?

In the long run it’s cheaper in terms of buying wine. Because the Vinotemp system preserves the wine, you don’t throw out spoiled wine. The cost of buying the system is $3,995 and the cost of running it is like a wine cooler—but less expensive than a traditional refrigerator.

You pay rent by the square foot so you pay a rent every month for the space where you store your wine. So It’s a real question of space and cost.