Sunday, May 5, 2013

Product Review: NewAir AW-181E 18 Bottle Wine Fridge

When we were first approached in January about reviewing the NewAir AW-181E 18 bottle wine fridge, Hubby and I had two reactions:

1.  Is someone really going to send us a wine fridge?

2.  How the heck does one review a wine fridge?

Well, the answer to the first one was yes, rather quickly, and all I can do is apologize for the delay.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I got a book contract at the end of January and have been very focused on that.  The wine fridge box arrived and hung out in the kitchen for a few months, and we finally just got into it last weekend.  At least it gave me time to talk to people and figure out what they look for in a wine cooling device.

As you can see, the unit itself is sleek and attractive, and it fits well in the narrow space we have for it in our little Craftsman bungalow, where all the storage is pretty much in narrow spaces.  Seriously, you should see our closets.

The big selling point of this wine fridge is the thermoelectric cooling system, which keeps the wine at temperature and "doesn't rely on coolants or chemicals that can harm the environment."  We have a thermometer in there, as you can see, and it has confirmed the set temperature.  The wine has also tasted at cellar temperature, although we haven't measured the wine itself.  It's a definite improvement over our usual experience, which, in our aforementioned drafty old house, requires us to use the counter top wine chiller to get our reds to temperature.  This can take quite a while during the summer.  

Pros:

It looks nice and fits well in a tight spot.

It's super quiet.  We can't even hear it running unless everything else in the house, including our ancient refrigerator, isn't.  It has also not "traveled" in the week we've had it going, which considering our not so straight floors, is evidence that it is, as promised, vibration-free.

The shelves slide in and out easily.

The unit cooled to the desired temperature quickly, and the temperature display seems to be accurate.

Cons:

The racks are a little too close together such that you actually have to pull them in and out to get the bottles out.  There are also no catches on the back to keep the racks from sliding out completely, so you have to be careful not to pull them out too far.

While it fits the Bordeaux-style bottles just fine, the Burgundy-style bottles will only fit on the bottom or top.  They're too big for the middle racks.  Sparkling bottles won't fit at all unless shelves are removed.  We don't have any at the moment, but I suspect storage of Rhone-style bottles would also be limited.

Overall impression:

A nice wine refrigerator with a couple of design flaws that would be fixed by perhaps changing the spacing between shelves, which would reduce the number of bottles it holds but would make Pinot and Syrah drinkers happy.  It's definitely a red wine fridge with its minimum temperature of 54 (maximum 66), so the sparkling bottle limitation may not be relevant, although it would cut down fridge cooling time. Luckily for us, Pinot and Syrah doesn't hang around for very long and isn't the majority of our collection.

It's quieter and more convenient than our counter top chiller and more accurate than putting the bottles in the fridge.  I'm definitely looking forward to having it this summer so that my red wine drinking will be a matter of instant gratification.  We may even keep some whites and roses in there so they'll take less time to cool in the fridge.

Disclaimer:  This unit is a sample that was received free of charge from NewAir.  This did not influence our impressions or review.

1 comment:

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