The first cigar humidor was invented by an Irish furniture maker named Terrance Manning in 1887. His first humidor was constructed out of Brazilian rosewood. Subsequent manufacturers switched to Spanish cedar for its superior moisture properties and spicy aroma, but retained his basic design: a simple box with an elevated baffle to trap moisture and control humidity. This design was so successful, it took over 100 years for modern technology to improve upon it. No one knows who came up with the new design, but the technology was taken from wine coolers, hence the popular portmanteau: wineadors.
Wineadors are wine coolers that have been converted to hold cigars instead of wine, and the benefits of wineadors vs. cigar humidors are pretty significant. Cigar humidors are designed to create a controlled climate that is 70 percent humidity. Wineadors do the same, but use sophisticated technology to provide better temperature control and more storage space at a lower cost. If you haven’t bought one yet, you might want to consider the benefits of giving up your old humidor and upgrading to a wineador.
Benefits of Wineadors
|Cheaper per Unit of Storage Space|
|Better Temperature Control|
|Hold Humidity Well|
|Protects Cigars From Temperature Fluctuations|
Benefits of a Wineador
Wineadors have three main benefits over cigar humidors. They allow you to control the temperature inside your humidor, they provide more storage space for less money, and they provide better protection from heat and cold.
Temperature control is the biggest reason why cigar smokers switch to wineadors. Temperature has a big effect on humidity, which has an even bigger impact on the quality of your smoke. As temperatures go up, relative humidity goes down, which causes your cigars to dry out. When temperatures go down, the opposite happens. Relative humidity goes up, which causes your cigars to become damp. (Relative humidity is the ratio between the amount of water vapor in the air and the amount of water vapor the air can hold before it condenses back into liquid.)
The ideal temperature for your cigars is 70°F, which simulates the tropical temperatures the cigars were rolled in. At this temperature, moisture levels stabilize. Cigars stop emitting and absorbing moisture and the oils in the different tobacco leaves inside the cigar will slowly blend together. This process is called “marrying” and it’s very important to the aging process. It creates a complex series of flavors that adds depth to your cigars. When temperatures fall below 54°F, the viscosity of the cigar resins decreases to the point where marrying stops altogether. At the other extreme, temperatures above 75°F can lead to cigar rot. They also allow pests such as tobacco beetles to hatch and eat your cigars.
Unlike cigar humidors, which are passive storage units, wineadors provide you with strict temperature controls, utilizing the finely-tuned cooling systems wine drinkers have enjoyed for years. There are two different types of cooling systems you can choose from: compressors and thermoelectric coolers. Compressors provide more power and better temperature controls, but cigar smokers prefer thermoelectric units because they provide gradual cooling and don’t affect humidity levels. Compressors not only cool very quickly, but they constantly pull moisture out of the air, which makes it almost impossible to stabilize humidity levels.
Thermoelectric wine coolers control temperatures using the Peltier Effect, which occurs whenever you run an electrical current through a semiconductor plate made of two different metals. The current creates a thermal imbalance. One side of the plate gets hot while the other side gets cold. The cooler uses a fan to pipe in cool air from the cold side of the plate. This process takes time and creates very gradual shifts in temperature, allowing you to avoid any traumatic temperature fluctuations. The temperature is adjusted up or down using a set of digital controls, a standard feature on most wine coolers, and the temperature settings are accurate to one degree.
The second reason why so many cigar smokers switch to wineadors is storage space, specifically the cost per unit of storage space. Wineadors are primarily constructed from steel, plastic, and glass, common, easily available materials. Cigar humidors are made from hardwoods and usually lined with Spanish cedar, imported from South America. The global demand for Spanish cedar has driven up its price, which is why wineadors are such a good investment. They can hold a large number of cigars for less money per stogie than an equivalently sized humidor.
|Humidor||Cost||Capacity||Cost Per Cigar|
|Versailles Cigar Humidor||$90||100 Cigars||$1.11|
|Cuban Crafters Murcielago Humidor||$299||150 Cigars||$1.99|
|Genova Cigar Humidor||$272||200 Cigars||$1.36|
|Nottingham Wood & Leather Humidor||$208||200 Cigars||$1.04|
|Ravello Cigar Humidor||$250||300 Cigars||$0.83|
|The Medici Humidor||$349.95||500 Cigars||$0.69|
|Wine Cooler||Cost||Capacity||Cost Per Cigar|
|NewAir AW-121E||$116||250 Cigars||$0.46|
|NewAir AW-181E||$199||300 Cigars||$0.46|
|NewAir AW-280E||$205||400 Cigars||$0.51|
|EdgeStar 16||$199||300 Cigars||$0.66|
|NewAir AW-281E||$255||400 Cigars||$0.64|
|Edgestar 28||$379||400 Cigars||$0.94|
If you’re really hungry for a bargain, check out Air & Water’s scratch and dent page. It lists refurbished products being sold at a discount. All of the units are perfectly functional and significantly less expensive than a brand-new unit.
Wineadors also allow you to take advantage of a wine cooler’s superior insulation. Wine coolers come with 2-3 layers of insulation around their wine cabinets and use magnetized rubber seals on the door. The doors are made of double pane glass, which prevents heat from escaping and limits exposure to harmful UV rays. These safeguards prevents outside temperatures from upsetting conditions inside the wineador, an especially useful feature in extremely hot climates, such as Arizona or Florida, where temperatures regularly climb over 90°F in summer, and extremely cold climates, such as Maine or Alaska, where temperatures regular drop below 15°F in winter. The extra layers of insulation limit the heat exchange between the wineador and the outside air, protecting your cigars from sudden temperature spikes and creating a stable temperature environment that keeps your cigars fresh and ready to smoke.
Downside of Wineadors
Despite these advantages, some cigar smokers choose not to switch to wineador due to the cost of converting a wine cooler into a wineador. Wine coolers use metal racks, unsuited to cigar storage. While you can balance cigar boxes on them, most cigar smokers find this to be a frustrating compromise. You can swap out the wine racks for Tupperware containers, which allows you to store individual cigars as well as boxes. Unfortunately, this isn’t a very attractive option and finding Tupperware containers large enough to slide into the runners for the wine racks can be difficult, which is why most wineador owners decide to purchase and install wooden shelves instead. The most commonly uses shelves use the same materials you’d find in a regular cigar humidor: Spanish cedar, American red cedar, or Honduran mahogany.
Since the number of wineadors is still small, the shelves you need can’t be purchased from a retailer; they have to be custom-made. If you have the necessary skills, you can but the materials and make them yourself. Otherwise you’ll have to contract a professional like Forrest Price at wineadors.com, who makes Spanish cedar shelving for NewAir, Edgestar, and other wine coolers being converted into wineadors. The cost of one of his shelves is $14.17. The cost of a drawer is $32.70. Price’s drawers and shelves let you take advantage of Spanish cedar’s fantastic moisture properties, but because they’re custom built, you’ll have to wait for three weeks or more for them to arrive. In addition, you’ll also have to de-odorize the cooler in order to neutralize the plastic smell before you put your cigars inside and you may have to install an extra fan as well to improve air circulation as well.
Cigar coolers are wine coolers that have been specially designed by the manufacturer to hold cigars. They not only come with Spanish cedar shelving already installed, but their temperature range has been expanded accommodate the storage requirements for cigars. Most cigar coolers are designed with an upper limit of 65°F, but in a cigar cooler, the upper limit has been raised to around 74°F. Most come with built-in hygrometers too. Cigar coolers are more expensive than an ordinary wine cooler, but are still roughly comparable to the cost of a full wine cooler conversion done at home. If you’re interested in a wineador, but want to avoid the headache of manually converting it for cigar storage, cigar coolers are a great alternative.