Do you ever stop and think, “What else can I do with my wine cooler?” If you’re a bit handy and that way inclined, you can turn your humble wine cooler into a wineador! But, what is a wineador?
A wineador is simply a wine cooler that has been specially modified to store cigars. Apparently, cigars, like wine, are a bit fussy about the conditions in which they are kept. A modified wine cooler – a wineador – creates the perfect environment to keep your cigars happy!
As we’ve already stated, if you want to convert a wine cooler into a wineador you’ll need some knowledge and skills as well as some extra equipment such as a hygrometer, humidifier, fan, and some cedar shelves.
You will probably have to have the shelves made specially to fit your wine cooler but you should be able to buy the rest of the special equipment from a cigar shop or amazon. Obviously, this equipment won’t be cheap so you will need to be prepared to see it as an investment in your cigar collection.
What Type of Wine Cooler Is Best To Convert To A Wineador?
Not all wine coolers will work as a wineador. You need to make sure to only convert a thermoelectric wine cooler. Compressor based wine coolers will not work for cigars as they will affect the moisture levels too much. So, if you’re going to go to the trouble of converting a wine cooler into a wineador or cigar humidor, make sure it’s a wine cooler that uses a thermoelectric based cooling system and not compressor-based.
There are plenty of thermoelectric wine coolers to choose from that should all be able to be converted into a wineador. Our top picks for the best thermoelectric wine coolers can be found here.
Equipment Needed To Convert A Wine Cooler Into A Wineador
If you’re a cigar enthusiast or collector you’re probably already familiar with most of the equipment you’ll need to convert your wine cooler and make it a safe space for your cigar collection.
A hygrometer is an instrument used to measure the amount of water vapor in the air, in soil, or in confined spaces, so, in this application, it is needed to measure the humidity levels within your new wineador.
These are often included if you buy a cigar humidor from a store, or they can be purchased separately from cigar shops or Amazon, like this one.
Hygrometers come in analog and digital styles – we’d suggest digital as they tend to be more accurate and are easier to read.
2. Cigar Humidifiers
Cigars need to be stored with just the right amount of moisture. Cigar humidifiers create this humidity in a humidor or wineador by releasing moisture into the air. There are different types of cigar humidifiers – crystals, salt packs, beads, foam, and electronic humidifiers.
Foam is the cheapest and thus the most commonly used, but this type of humidifier is also prone to creating too much moisture or over humidification. Electronic humidifiers are the most expensive kind and tend to do the best job of avoiding over humidification – it’s kind of a “you get what you pay for” situation. If you do decide to buy an electronic humidifier keep in mind that they often come with a built-in digital hygrometer so you might save a little money that way.
Here are some of the different types of cigar humidifiers:
Typically shelves in wine coolers are made from metal or plastic so these would need to be replaced with Spanish Cedar shelves. Spanish cedar is well known for being good at absorbing water/moisture so it makes it the ideal material of choice for helping to control the humidity levels in cigar humidors.
This shelving will likely be an expensive part of the conversion process as the shelves need to be handcrafted to fit each individual wine cooler. Also, being handcrafted, these shelves can take some time to make so you might have to wait up to 5 weeks after ordering before receiving your Spanish Cedar shelves.
For the record, you can buy Spanish Cedar shelves on amazon – but getting the right size to fit your wine cooler could be a problem. They are available at quite reasonable prices so, if you are handy, you might be able to modify or adjust these “off the shelf” styles to suit and fit your wine cooler.
While thermoelectric wine coolers typically come with fans at the back, it seems they don’t provide enough air circulation to keep that consistent humidity that the cigars want. The addition of an extra fan (just like a small fan used to cool a computer) can help to overcome this.
To check if your new wineador needs an extra fan, place a hygrometer on the top shelf and put an additional one on the bottom shelf. Give it a couple of days – if the humidity is measuring the same on both devices, an additional fan is probably not necessary.
How To Convert A Wine Cooler Into A Wineador
Here are the steps to follow to convert your wine cooler into a wineador to store your cigars.
1. Clean The Wine Cooler
Even if the wine cooler you are converting is brand new, you’ll want to give it a clean before turning it into a place to store cigars. A brand new wine cooler can have a plastic-y “new” smell that can transfer to cigars which are known for absorbing odors and moisture.
The easiest way to give it a clean is just to wipe it out with a soft cloth using warm water and detergent. If you’re having trouble getting rid of the plastic (or any other) smell, you can try putting a bowl of baking soda (bicarbonate soda) inside the cooler to absorb any remaining odor.
2. Calibrate The Hygrometer
While your hygrometer should have been calibrated before it left the factory, it’s always a good idea to check the calibration – there’s no point in keeping data if it’s inaccurate!
To check the calibration, fill a bottle cap with salt. Then add a few drops of water until it reaches a cake-like consistency. You don’t want the salt to dissolve – if it does, you’ve added too much water and you’ll need to start over again. Once you’ve got your bottle cap right, place it, and your hygrometer inside a small, snap-lock plastic bag and seal it.
This combination of salt and water should create a humidity of 75%. You’ll need to wait for 10-12 hours and then check the reading on your hygrometer. If it’s showing 75% then your hygrometer is calibrated correctly and is ready to use. If not you’ll need to adjust the settings.
3. Season The Shelves
Your new, Spanish Cedar shelves will need seasoning before you can use them to store your cigars. Cedar is naturally very absorbent as well as moisture emitting. If you don’t season the shelves before using they could absorb moisture from the cigars which would dry them out.
There are two different methods used for this seasoning process.
Firstly, there is a method known as “shock seasoning”. This technique is the quickest way to get the job done but it does have the downside of potentially warping your new shelves.
To “shock season” simply use a sponge soaked in distilled water and wipe all over the surfaces of your shelves. Try to leave a layer of water all over the shelves. Then, put the shelves into the wine cooler and let them sit for around 24 hours.
Once this time has passed, put a wet sponge inside a plastic bowl and put the bowl in the bottom of the wine cooler. Sit your hygrometer on the top shelf and let the whole project wait for another 24 hours or so. After a day or so, hopefully, the shelves will be dry and your hygrometer will be giving a reading of around 70% humidity and your “shock seasoning” will be complete.
The second method is known as “active seasoning”. Using this technique we’re aiming to season the shelves by raising the humidity in the wine cooler as high as possible, allowing the cedar shelves to actively absorb some of the moisture out of the humid air.
To do this you simply need to place a wet sponge (soaked in distilled water) in a plastic bowl at the bottom of the wine cooler. Again, place your hygrometer onto the top shelf, close the door of the wine cooler and then wait 24 hours or so for the sponge to dry. Once the sponge has dried, soak it in distilled water again and repeat the process. Continue to repeat this process until the humidity level gets down to 70% – this could take a few days. In the first couple of days expect humidity levels around 80%, but this should start to drop as the shelves absorb the moisture.
Once your hygrometer is achieving readings of 70% it is ready to store your cigars.
4. Install A Fan
If you’ve decided that you’ll need an extra fan in your wineador, you’ll need to install it or have it installed, before you go through the shelf seasoning process.
It’s important to make sure you haven’t broken the seal if you’re running a cable through the door hinge. Likewise, if you’re running the fan cable out through the back of the unit (drill a hole out the back at the base of the wine cooler) make sure you seal up any gap with caulk or sealant.
Once all of the above is complete – congratulations!! You’ve managed to convert a wine cooler into a cigar humidor or “wineador”!
If all of the above sounds like far too much trouble but you’re still looking for a good way to store your cigars, never fear, ready-made cigar coolers exist!
A cigar cooler is basically a wine cooler that has been constructed (or converted) by the manufacturer to store cigars in optimal conditions.
These nifty devices use the same thermoelectric cooling system found in wine coolers, but they are optimized in terms of temperature range and humidity levels to suit the storage of cigars.
Here are some examples of cigar coolers that will save you the trouble of converting your wine cooler into a wineador.
So, while a “wineador” is certainly a cool idea, it seems to me that a lot of time and effort needs to be put into a project to convert a wine cooler into a wineador. Not to mention the expense of buying all of the additional components.
If you’re handy and like a project, go for it, otherwise, I’d suggest keeping your wine cooler for storing your wine and grabbing a cigar cooler if you also have a cigar collection to look after.