Wine cabinets and beer fridges: Chilling out in style

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“With home improvements on the up and walls coming down, the kitchen has succeeded the living room as the showroom of the home. The popularity of either iconic or statement appliances have come to the fore. Few other appliances can satisfy the consumer needs in this respect better than premium sector wine cabinets,” explains Stuart Frost, product marketing manager at Maytag.
Over the last decade wine consumption in Britain has doubled, which was partly to do with the increased frequency of overseas travel which gave people opportunities to sample the world’s best wines and enjoy the lifestyle associated with wine drinking. This lead to the price reduction of wines sold through the supermarkets and a wider availability of different types of wine. “Since 1995, the wine market penetration has grown from 60% to 68%. Twelve million UK adults drink wine weekly or more often, accounting for 780 million bottles a year. The UK wine consumer profile has changed little in recent years; generally he/she is over 25 and in the upper middle/middle class (classified as AB social grade) and are drinking more frequently, particularly at-home,” confirms Corrin Farr, refrigeration product manager at Hoover Candy Group.

The growth market

The existing market statistics clearly reflect this situation. In the wine cabinets category, the year-on-year growth (April ’06 – March ’07 on April ’05 – March ’06) was impressive: volume increased by 106% (from 15 thousand units to 31 thousand), while value grew even more – by 115% (from £3 million to £6.6 million). Even the average price of a wine cabinet increased from £200 to £215. At the moment single temperature cabinets constitute 60% of the wine cabinet sales, but their average price is lower (£196) than that of multi temperature units (£249) or combi cabinets (£606).

In the drink chillers sector, the available data also suggests a healthy growth, although the sales seasonally oscillate between 83 thousand units in the October- December ’06 quarter and 28 thousand units in the January-March ’07 period (the annual market totals were not available). The quarterly value of the sectors was also between £2.4 million and £1.149 million, while an average price of a drink chiller was between £30-40.

Fashionable accessory

In the mature refrigeration market, wine and drink storage is a new product development avenue and a fresh profit opportunity, especially as they became a fashionable accessory. “The wine cabinet has an upmarket appeal for those who wish to store and keep wine in perfect condition and at the optimum temperature/humidity for drinking, whilst displaying it in an attractive cabinet that replicates cellar conditions. Meanwhile the beer/drinks chiller is aimed at a younger generation and a male-driven market for canned drinks and beer. Often these are located away from the main living area and in bedrooms,” explains Maytag’s Stuart Frost.

A modern wine cabinet with different temperature zones accommodates white wine, rose or champagne at the serving temperature of 6-8°C, red wine at room temperature and has zones with constant temperature of 10-14°C and optimum humidity for wine preservation. Since not many people are lucky enough to own a wine cellar, a wine cabinet attempts to simulate cellar conditions in the house. “Precision control is a vital element of today’s new generation of wine centres, and this means that your wine is served at the perfect temperature for your taste,” comments Adam Roddan, sales director at Gaggenau.

Designed for every need

Wine connoisseurs who wish to flaunt their wine collections have an opportunity to do it in style. “Wine cooler design is very important. This is an aspirational add-on product that says something about the owner and that statement is not just about efficient storage – it’s about style and sophistication,” stressed Hoover Candy’s Corrin Farr. Meanwhile “the beer fridges sector has seen a definitive move towards branded items, eg Calsberg, which is mainly due to brand loyalty that is tied to the product,” further explained Jacqueline Neal, senior product manager at Micromark.

The choice is wide – at every price point and space requirement. At the top of the market are the freestanding wine cabinets of Amana in Definition, Precision and Reflection styling (holding up to 208 bottles) or built-in wine cabinets of the Gaggenau Vario cooling range (accommodating 103 bottles) where wine is kept and preserved in a stable temperature, the correct humidity and with little or no vibration.

However, wine enthusiasts who live in smaller houses can also take their pick. “We have recently launched two built-in wine coolers under the luxury White-Westinghouse brand. There is a 300mm model, which has an 18-bottle capacity, whilst the larger 600mm model has a 46-bottle capacity. The beauty of built-in wine coolers is that at prices starting at around £299, they fit the same space and price bracket as built-in wooden wine rack units, yet keep wine at the ideal temperature rather than acting as standard storage shelves,” says Guy Weaver, CE of Premium Appliance Brand.

Moreover, the Candy wine cooler has adjustable feet so that it will match the height of any work top and it has a reversible door for ease of installation.

“Consumers want appliance interiors that make the best use of space, for example Lec’s compact DF72G table top drinks fridge can hold up to twenty bottles and eight cans, making it the perfect choice for busy entertainers. Lec’s two silver dedicated drinks fridges also feature ergonomic slimline bar handles, which completes the stylish professional look,” comments Caroline Johnson, product manager at Lec. Then she adds: “Whilst price is not an issue toward the higher end of the market, which is occupied by sophisticated, temperature controlled wine storage cellars; it is an important consideration when it comes to the appliances positioned in the mid-market and entry level sectors.”

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