Wine appreciation: Inside the next big appliance for entertaining

Warmer weather, longer days and time off work mean entertainment season is upon us. All the trend spotters say Australians are spending more time at home, labouring over gourmet meals, both in the kitchen and at the barbecue, to serve to their friends and family.

Two appliances that can help enhance this home entertainment experience —often considered luxury items — are wine cabinets and beverage coolers. The barriers to entry, however, are quickly being lowered.

Manufacturers, such as Haier, have started to increase their offerings to suit a diverse range of budgets to make them more accessible.

“Haier wants to reach all consumers and that means providing affordable and high quality appliances for the market,” said brand manager Yvonne Hong.

“Wine chillers are generally considered luxury appliances, however, our stylish and affordable range means any consumer can enjoy the benefits of a wine chiller in their home.”

Hong said Euromonitor International ranked Haier the number one manufacturer of electrical wine chillers in the world for the fourth consecutive year in 2013.

Haier’s range consists of the aluminium 51 Bottle Wine Chiller (JC160GD, RRP $1,099) and the compact 36 Bottle Wine Chiller (JC110GD, RRP $599).

Features of the both models include anti-condensation technology and an adjustable temperature control. Hong said the 36-bottle unit was ideal for smaller rooms, apartments or entertainment areas.

ILVE has also recognised growth in the wine cabinets and beverage coolers segment. ILVE is distributed locally by Eurolinx.

“There is an increased trend towards alfresco dining and outdoor entertaining, and wine cabinets and beverage coolers complement this trend very well,” said Daniel Bertuccio, Eurolinx marketing manager.

In an aim to match its existing collection of appliances, ILVE has released a selected range in the category, including a built-in wine cooler designed to hold up to 24 bottles (645BIWS24, RRP $1,599), a single zone wine cooler that holds up to 40 bottles (IVWCSZ40, RRP $1,699), a dual zone wine cooler that holds up to 40 bottles (IVWCDZ40, RRP $1,599) and a beverage centre that houses up to 100 cans (IVB100, RRP $1,699).

Bertuccio said selling a wine cabinet is like selling any other major appliance: retailers need to qualify their customers to recommend the most appropriate unit.

“With wine cellars and beverage centres, it is important to establish what a customer is after and then sell the product that is going to best suit the consumers’ needs and lifestyle,” he said.

Staying on the higher end the market with its $14,999 price tag is Sampford IXL’s Vario Cool wine cabinet (RW 464) from Gaggenau.

Targeted at true wine connoisseurs, the 101-bottle Gaggenau Vario Cool wine cabinet (RW464), a mixture of cutting edge design and premium technology, is RRP $14,999.

Features of this cabinet include separate temperature zones, precise control between 5° and 18° Celsius and a damped compressor suspension to keep wine bottles virtually free from vibration.

This cabinet can be fully integrated or is available with a UV protected glass door to prevent daylight from altering the bouquet of the wines.

Miele is also drawing its attention to customers who consider themselves wine experts.

“There are many wine ‘coolers’ on the Australian market, however, consumers who appreciate good wine will know the importance of storing it correctly in a wine conditioner,” said category manager Louise Paynter, before making a bold exclamation:

“Wine is alive!” she said. “As such, it reacts positively or negatively to its environment. Ideal conditions are required to ensure that wine will mature properly or keep without spoiling.”

Miele is introducing a built-under wine conditioner (KWT 4145 UG-1, RRP $3,999) and a freestanding wine conditioner (KWT 4974 SG ed, RRP $6,999) to its range.

The wine conditioners feature individually controllable temperature zones to ensure red, rosé and white wines are all served at the right temperature; and tinted, tempered glass doors to offer protection from UV light. There’s also an active charcoal filter that ensures the air remans dust and odour free.

Liebherr national brand manager, Brett Lane said that just as the coffee machine category is booming because consumers are training to become baristas at home, consumers are taking more pride in what they are drinking.

“In the past a good quality coffee could only be enjoyed at a café,” he said. “With advancing technology and consumer demand, coffee machines sit pride of place in most kitchens nowadays. We see the same thing happening in the wine cellar business.

“Wine cellars are the perfect add-on sale item, just like the microwave or compact oven. Simply ask ‘Do you enjoy wine?’

“We have not seen retailers that have whole-heartedly specialised in the wine cellar market to date. The key is showing a diverse range of products on display and getting all salespeople to understand and be educated on the meaning of wine.”

The new Barrique by Liebherr wine cellar range will be released in late 2013, comprising four single zone wine cellars units, each with LED lighting, beech wood shelves and a glass door.

“The challenge is to teach the end-user to buy a product which is a cellaring solution, not just an inexpensive fridge with a glass door,” he said.

“In the years to come, we expect to see a higher demand for innovative products that meet the requirements of cellaring quality wine. We at Liebherr stand by our motto — quality, design and innovation — and have always delivered exactly that.”

The brand most associated with wine cabinets, Vintec, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. National sales manager Dudley Maudlin believes it has the responsibility to ensure consumers are aware of the difference between wine cabinets and wine chillers.

He said the main purpose of Vintec’s wine cabinets is for longterm cellaring, while wine chillers are cheaper products that “are simply bar fridges hidden behind a different name”.

Vintec is currently experiencing successful sales from its Seamless Stainless Steel and Borderless Black Glass Door cabinets in its Noir range, which were launched in November 2012, despite a soft retail market for the first six months of 2013.

“The success was immediate, leading to a shortage of stock for certain models at the beginning of the year,” Maudlin said.

“Today, however the result is a 15 per cent growth versus last year.”

By the end of this year, Maudlin said the Vintec Noir 42 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cabinet (V40DG2EBK, RRP $2,250), will be added to the range, along with a new range under the Transtherm brand at the beginning of the next year.

According to Maudlin, an important part of the evolution of its products is improving energy efficiency.

“Vintec has already anticipated this evolution and all our cabinets have been redesigned for better performance, with our popular products — the beer and wine cabinets — ready to pass the new tests when they become available.”

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