New Research Pinpoints Consumer Wine Needs

New Research Pinpoints Consumer Wine Needs

Kitchen designers could go a long way toward assisting clients with wine-storage needs while enhancing their reputation as high-end design consultants if they understood the requirements for storing wine, and the benefits of state-of-the-art wine storage equipment.

That conclusion was implicit in the findings of a major research effort conducted recently by Sub-Zero Freezer Co., the Madison, WI-based manufacturer of premium built-in home refrigeration.

The research whose results were released to the trade press at January's International Builders' Show in Dallas consisted of focus groups and interviews with kitchen designers, wine enthusiasts, vintners, restaurant owners, consumers, wine retailers, distributors and dealers, as well as analyses of wine cellars, according to the company. It was conducted in conjunction with the development of Sub-Zero's new 400 Series of premium wine storage units, which regulate such key wine storage factors as temperature, humidity, light and vibration levels.

Concerns among wine consumers over proper wine storage in the home, and a general lack of information about the benefits of well-designed wine storage equipment, are currently prevalent among both upscale homeowners and kitchen space planners, the Sub-Zero research revealed.

The company also gained the following insights into wine consumers:

  • Nearly two-thirds of typical wine consumers are college-educated, married and do not have young children.
  • Heavier wine drinkers tend to be male, aged 35+, with higher incomes.
  • Heavier wine consumers entertain at home an average of 2.5 times per month, while lighter wine consumers entertain at home an average of 1.5 times per month.
  • In general, wine consumers store at least one case of wine, with the storage ratio of red wine to white wine being 2:1.
  • Most wine consumers currently store their wine in a wine rack or in the refrigerator.

With respect to specific key storage issues, Sub-Zero suggested that kitchen designers be cognizant of the following factors:

  • Temperature: A majority of consumers believe wine should be stored and consumed at the proper temperature in order to ensure both preservation and enjoyment. However, there is some confusion over optimum temperatures. Experts recommend, in general, that wine be kept at temperatures ranging from 40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for consumption, with exact temperatures varying depending on the type of wine and individual drinking preference (see table below). Served warm, white wine can taste dull and insipid; served cold, red wine can lose its scent and flavor, wine experts note. They also emphasize that, above all else, constant wine temperature is critical to wine preservation, since shifts in temperature can age wine faster and make the cork expand and contract, letting air into the bottle, Sub-Zero noted.
  • Humidity: Experts agree that wine must not be exposed to air, since air can cause oxidation, which can ultimately cause wine to go bad. Keeping the cork moist ensures the tightest seal possible. While storing wine on its side is one way to keep the cork moist, experts also recommend that wine be stored in an environment with 60% to 70% humidity, according to Sub-Zero.
  • Light: Experts agree that direct light, particularly ultraviolet rays, can destroy a wine's color and flavor. To prevent harmful rays from stripping wine of its value, wine storage units should feature either glass doors that are resistant to ultraviolet light or solid doors that integrate with surrounding cabinetry, Sub-Zero observed.
  • Vibration: Since wine is delicate, its components can break down over time if they are exposed to heavy vibrations. This can leave a wine lacking in scent and flavor. Because of this, the compressor and cooling system of a wine storage unit should operate quietly and smoothly, Sub-Zero suggested.

According to Hugh Johnson, widely considered to be the preeminent authority on wine, the following wines should be served at the temperatures noted:

The Right Temperature For the Right Wine 

Bordeaux  F 
63  C
17 Red Burgandy  61  16 Chianti  59  15 Red Zinfandel  59  15 White Burgandy  59  15 Beaujolais  54  12 Sherry  52  11 Rose  48  9 Dry White Wines 48 9 Champagne 46 8 Sweet White Wines 43 6 Sparkling Wines 41 5