Summer is just a couple of weeks away and many of us are thinking about entertaining outdoors close to the barbeque grill. What better way to accent succulent steamed fish, caramelized fruit, or grilled veggies than a chilled white wine. On a hot day, even a red wine can take a little cooling down, especially when temperatures hit the 90s or higher. But how do you keep the wine flowing if your wine storage unit is in your kitchen or even in your cellar?
One way is to keep your wine handy near your grill in some sort of wine storage container that can keep the wine cool.
The old stand by was a simple wine cooler. These can be very simple, using a bucket or tub filled with ice and nestling the wine into the ice. How long the wine stays chilled will depend on how fast the ice melts and how often you replenish your ice supply.
There have been elegant variations on this theme over the years that make the silver wine bucket seem passe and the picnic cooler downright crass. You can purchase giant wine glasses and fill them with ice and tuck in your wines. Since these will necessarily sweat as the ice melts, they are perfect for patios. Keeping the wine theme, some people choose waterproofed oak wine barrels on wrought iron legs that can cool wine and also be a conversation started at your next party.
Some party hosts prefer a crafted cedar cooler box with a liner to keep wine cool. There are some wooden boxes than have insulation just like a picnic cooler. These come with a gas cylinder hinge to ease the top down gently without disturbing the wine. The wooden construction makes these boxes a clever addition to patios and decks, especially those that already have wooden storage boxes on site to tuck away extra outdoor cushions or hide children’s patio toys.
Other people prefer stainless steel or porcelain tubs. Or, they opt for a low round coffee table with a built in pit for cooling wine and other beverages. There are also planter type coolers. These Fiesta Multi Function Patio Coolers are resin wicker coolers. They can be placed on a permanent type frame as you would a planter or put on wheels, making it into a beverage cart. Each leg also has a wine bottle ring to hold a bottle or two in reserve. These can also be used as planters or ottomans.
A step up is the Suncast Cooler which rolls on sturdy casters. Made from durable polyresin, it has a cabinet below the deep well cooler. The cabinet can store glasses and partyware. This cooler also has a drop-leaf extension to rest glasses on or open wine.
The Igloo Wood Cabinet cooler is similar but is made from hardwood with a polyurethane inner frame for the 46 quart cooler. There is a double-door storage cabinet below that can store partyware or glasses.
Another cooler is the stainless steel party cooler cart. This unit has a sleek stainless steel design with a double-lid on the top. The lid lies flat and can be used as a service station. There is a tall storage shelf on the bottom that can hold extra beverages, glasses, or partyware.
Coolers, of course, cannot keep wine or other beverages at a controlled temperature. If you entertain a lot, you might consider investing in a refrigerated outdoor wine chiller. These can be stand alone units or permanent installations in outdoor kitchens, built into the architecture of your patio just as your barbecue grill is. There are many different outdoor wine chillers available that can protect your wine from light, heat, vibration, and temperature fluctuations. Most of these are small, ranging from 15 to 24 inches wide for a single unit and up to 72 inch wide multiple units. The single units are one zone only. Multiple units are single units in tandem, with each having a different temperature setting that you can control.
The Kalamazoo Outdoor Wine Chillers are one zone units than can hold 24 to 138 bottles, depending on the model. The larger unit (72 inches wide) is really three units (and three zones) in each construction. The Perlick Outdoor Wine Cooler (24 inches wide) has a 42 bottle capacity, but can also be run in 48 inch and 72 inch, multiple unit configurations. They are also single zone units. The Franklin Outdoor Beverage Cooler ( 23.6 inches wide) is made of stainless steel and has two side-by-side zones, each with its separate door and controls. This unit is available as a built in and as a freestanding unit on wheels. Sub-Zero offers one single zone unit, the Sub-Zero 315W, which stores 26 bottles. It is a narrower unit, only 15 inches wide, and can be built in to any smaller space. Other Sub-Zero wine storage units are two-zone single units that can be configured in tandem for increased storage. (See Sub-Zero Wine Storage Units: Innovation from the the Refrigeration Experts)
One other wine chiller is the Italian Wine Trolley by Frontgate. These stainless steel carts have a service area on top, with creative over-the-counter flute racks for wine glass storage and a portable ice bucket. Making up the bulk of the unit is a two zone refrigerated wine cooler that can hold 21 bottles each. Though the unit needs access to an electrical outlet, it can be repositioned easily because of the heavy-duty casters on the bottom. This unit was wildly popular last summer, but does not seem available this year. If there is enough interest, however, I would suggest writing or calling Frontgate to inquire about availability this year.
Your barbecue doesn't have to be a grilled steak and beer affair. Wine can be a part of any outdoor grilling experience, and now there is a wine cooling product that is right for your patio and style of entertaining. Salut!