N'Finity 23 Dual Zone Wine Cellar – A Nice Looking Wine Refrigerator, but can it Live Up to its Marketing?
The N’Finity 23 Dual Zone Wine Cellar is another manufacturer’s attempt to fill the space left by outdated trash compactors. It’s front venting and 15″ width allows it to be “built-in” or placed under the kitchen counter but it’s flexible enough to be used as a freestanding unit.
Note: It’s called a wine cellar but don’t confuse it with a long-term storage device, it is better described as a wine cooler or wine refrigerator.
The N’Finity 23 Dual Zone wine refrigerator stores 23 wine bottles on a set of 6 Smooth-Rolling Hardwood Shelves that glide smoothly on ball-bearing tracks for easy access. Getting a bottle of wine out of a wine refrigerator stuffed to capacity is a major pain in the neck making racks that pull out very convenient. In addition flat racks make the storage of non-standard wine bottles (like Champagne) less problematic.
However, the maximum capacity per shelf is 4 bottles or 22 lbs except for the bottom shelf which only holds 3. With regard to the bottom shelf, the N’Finity 23 Owner’s Manual specifically states:
“Note: when setting bottles on the floor of the unit, Bordeaux (regular) size bottles offer the best fit.“
The N’Finity 23 Dual Zone wine refrigerator has a compressor-based cooling system just like a typical kitchen refrigerator used to store milk and eggs, but it’s not great for storing wine. A compressor-based cooling system creates temperature fluctuations especially during a defrost cycle (this is in addition to temperature fluctuations caused by opening the cooler door and turning interior LED lights off and on). Most modern refrigerators are frost free or have automatic defrost cycles and this wine cooler is no different, which means its temperature is constantly going up and down by several degrees (a wine storage no no).
The alternative to a compressor-based system is a thermoelectric cooling system which is a solid state electronic device without moving parts (except a fan) that does not cycle on and off and therefore produces a more even temperature. However, compressor-based systems are better at cooling in adverse conditions like a kitchen with lots of heat producing appliances (one of the worst places for wine storage by the way).
Unfortunately, the N’Finity 23 owner’s manual warns:
“Locate the wine cellar away from direct sunlight and sources of heat (stove, heater, radiator, etc.).”
Which is strange considering this wine refrigerator is marketed as an under the kitchen counter unit, and therefore would have to operate in the exact environment the owner’s manual warns against. Don’t think the warning can be ignored either since many buyers of this wine cooler who have used it as a replacement for a trash compactor have complained about its inability to maintain set temperature.
Temperature can be set in 1°F increments and dual digital displays show set temperature and actual cabinet temperature (after 5 seconds) in Upper and Lower Zones respectively. The Upper Zone can be set at 41-60°F and the Lower Zone at 45-64°F. If you set the upper or lower zone between 52 – 64°F, the LED light next to “RED” will light up, indicating that you are within the recommended range for serving Red Wine. If you set the upper or lower zone between 44 – 51°F, the LED light next to “WHITE” will light up, indicating that you are within the recommended range for serving White Wines. If you set the upper or lower zone between 41 – 43°F, the LED light next to “SPARKLING” will light up, indicating that you are within the recommended range for serving Sparkling Wines.
The advantage of a Dual Zone wine refrigerator over a Single Zone is the ability to store different types of wine (like Red, White and Sparkling) at their proper serving temperatures all within the same cabinet, thus eliminating the need and cost of having separate wine coolers for different wines. Wine enthusiasts who don’t want to shell out the extra cash for separate wine coolers typically store their white and sparkling wines at the bottom of Single Zone wine refrigerators taking advantage of the natural temperature differential between the top and bottom of the cabinet. However, the temperature differential is only a few degrees, so if you want to serve your Merlot at 63°F and your Asti Spumante at 41°F, you’re out of luck. Plus with a single zone there’s no way to change the temperature at the bottom or top of the cooler, although you can of course measure the temperature with a thermometer.
However, that advantage is negated if your Dual Zone wine refrigerator can only maintain a temperature differential of a few degrees between the Upper and Lower Zones, and that seems to be the case with the N’Finity 23. In other words, the N’Finity 23 might as well be a Single Zone wine refrigerator. So, why pay a Dual Zone price for Single Zone wine refrigerator?
Who’s It For? The best thing about the N’Finity 23 is its ability to fit under the kitchen counter. So, its for people who really want a wine refrigerator in the kitchen. But, since there are other products that can accomplish the same thing with more features and at a cheaper cost, it’s only worth buying if it’s really cheap. It just so happens that this unit is available as a “Scratch and Dent” for $499 (while supplies last, a $300 savings) i.e. like-new units that may have some cosmetic flaws, but are guaranteed to work perfectly and include full manufacturer’s warranty, not to mention, you get Free Shipping ($125 value).
- Front Venting and Unit Dimensions allow it to be “Built-In” – an Excellent Use of Space
- Dual-Zone Temperature Control – Upper Zone: 41-60°F; Lower Zone: 45-64°F
- Digital Temperature Display and Control
- 6 Flat, Slide-Out Wine Racks
- UV-Protected Glass
- Built-in Key Lock provides security
- Nice Appearance – Stainless Steel Trim, 3 Blue LED Interior Lights, Wood Shelves
- Reversible hinge for left or right hand opening
- Warranty – 1 Year Limited Warranty
- Compressor-Based Cooling System which causes,
- Temperature Fluctuations, Very Bad for Wine Storage
- Noise from Compressor Turning Off and On
- Vibrations, Also Bad for Wine Storage
- Inability to maintain Set Temperature
- Inability to maintain Large Temperature Differential between Upper and Lower Zones
- Not Cheap – Price per Bottle = $34.74, based on average price per unit of $799)