A wine cellar on a beer budget
Apr 25, 2003 (Updated Jul 29, 2006)
Review by pspark
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Compact, cheap, reversible door, quiet, unobtrusive.
Cons:Cheesy font on front glass, only one rack has curved "holders."
The Bottom Line: A tasteful, compact and versatile refrigerator that is good for use as a wine cellar or for a beer and soda cooler. Good storage capacity. Perfect for small kitchens.
Well, I just got my Little Tavern installed in my kitchen and its been up and running for six hours. I chose this unit because I don't have a huge wine collection and I have limited space in my loft. I also did not want a large, obtrusive unit, and was actually able to place this entire cellar into one of my kitchen cabinets. I used a cabinetry bore to create a hole for the electrical plug, and viola...
Recommend this product?
The Little Tavern is basically just an Avanti mini fridge with an adjustable thermostat which allows you to chill cans of beer or soda, or store red or white wines at the requisite 45-50F. It has a double paned, smoked, reversible glass door. There is no freezer unit.
The Little Tavern is very compact at just over a 19" square. It weighs about 45 pounds so it is easy to manipulate and pick up for most healthy adults. For small kitchens or dorms, this is a good beverage chiller.
It's black with a tinted glass door. There are two adjustable legs in the front of the unit. One on the right front corner, and one on the left forward corner, set slightly back. This left peg's position allows for easy height adjustments at just one location. Don't ask me to explain the geometry behind levelling a rhombus, versus a square, but trust me, it works.
The door is double-paned which provides excellent insulation. I do not know if the glass is tempered safety glass, but I suspect that it is. The door is also reversible, and with a bit of effort you can change the direction it swings open. In reality it's not really practical to try and do this because the screw holes are plugged with plastic stoppers that are tough to remove without breaking. Avanti supplies you with extra ones, however, but you'll only be able to rotate the door one time, in my estimation, because you'll ruin half of your plastic stoppers.
The tint on the door is a nice touch since it protects your already green tinted red wine bottles from extra UV radiation, but it's still easy to see your stock.
The biggest exterior design flaw, however, occurs on the front door. "The Little Tavern" appears on the glass and is written in the same grotesque faux gothic font that you see on low riders. It's awful and I am currently working on a way to get behind the first pane of glass so I can remove it. It's a fairly small aesthetic flaw, but its location makes it overly noticable.
Flat gray finish that is easy to clean. There are three racks which give the Little Tavern quite a bit of versatility when it comes to storage. The top rack has curved receptacles that hug your bottles of wine. The second rack is a standard flat wire type. The lower rack forms a type of "basket" that includes a handle. This "basket" can acomodate a few bottles of wine, or a couple of six-packs.
To store the advertised sixteen bottles of wine, you will have to piggyback six of them into the basket. Each upper rack will hold five bottles.
I would have liked to have seen an option to have all three racks have the curved receptacles, but you have to remember that this is not a true cellar, and the manufacturer had to give this unit a wide range of uses. You'll be able to store about 30 cans in the Little Tavern, but make sure you turn the curved wine rack upside down to give yourself a flat surface.
The Little Tavern is really only designed to hold one type of beverage since it only has one thermostat setting. Since most people will be using this as a small bar refrigerator or wine cellar, this is not a problem. Plan to use it for an all-wine, or all-beer cooler, depending on your taste.
Easy and well-labelled. Only illiterates will have problems figuring this out. One power plug with three prongs. The thermostat is in the rear right wall and is labelled for each type of wine/temperature. For example, red/high, white/medium, beer/cold.
The front door handle is intuitively obvious to use.
One year for all parts, and five years on the compressor.
Easy to use, but you won't really need it. Spanish version included.
You'll want to put felt pads on the bottoms of the Little Tavern to prevent scratching. I'd also advise you to give it a good cleaning before you begin using it. You will need a Philips-head screwdriver to install the door handle, and a small flat-head screwdriver to pop out the plastic stoppers.
WHERE TO BUY:
I bought mine at Wal-mart's website and got it delivered by UPS in five days. Compared to all other sites I checked, they offer the best price on the unit and cheapest shipping. Walmart also gives you free return labels if you have a problem with the unit.
I'm rating this thing attractive because it really is a good-looking cellar, despite the hokey lettering that I mentioned (really a teeny flaw for most other people).
It's a very utilitarian piece of equipment that you can get at a fair price. My dad paid thousands for his closet-sized wine cellar. This unit does the same thing for the more modest oenophile.
I was wondering exactly how much heat this thing would produce in the low-power mode in which you store red wine. The answer is: virtually none. I set my thermostat midway between red and white wine, giving an internal temp at about 48F. The cellar generates only a few degrees of temperature differential from the room versus the closed kitchen cabinet I have it in. There is about 8 to 10 inches of free space around the unit and the only ventilation is via a 1 1/4 inch hole I bored for the plug.
With use at the coldest setting, the compresser will obviously run more and generate more heat, so make sure you allow ventilation to dissipate the heat.
It still works very well. The main problem after 2 years is that small nodules of ice now form on the condenser plate. When it warms up, the ice melts and falls onto the wine labels.
It's annoying, but rarely occurs. I'm not sure what is causing it to do so, but I think it may have something to do with the how much humidity is let in when you open the door. My solution is to put a small towel across the top of the uppermost wine bottles. It works just fine.
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