Haier Wine Bank 50 Series 7 HWS42GDAU1 full review
There are two models in Haier’s Wine Bank 50 Series 7 range. Both are connected appliances and both have the same tech and features. The difference is in their capacity. We’re reviewing the smaller of the two, the HWS42GDAU1. It’s about the same height (82cm) and width as an under-counter fridge, and it can hold 42 bottles. It’s available from AO.com for £749.
But if your wine collection is more extensive – or if you’d like it to be – you might be interested in the larger model, the HWS77GDAU1. At £849, it’s just £100 more than the smaller bank, although it has almost double the capacity. It’s 127cm high (about two-thirds the height of a standard UK fridge) and can hold 77 bottles over seven shelves (a 192 litre capacity). It’s also available to buy from AO.com.
Design & appearance
Neither my pictures nor even Haier’s (much better) official marketing shots do the wine bank justice. It’s a really gorgeous piece of tech, with a glass fronted door, framed in reflective black. At the top is a touchscreen whose symbols illuminate at the press of a fingertip.
Via the touchscreen, you can adjust the temperature in each zone and switch on the internal light to view your wines. Inside, the bottles rest on slatted beech shelves.
The wine bank is very quiet at 37db (A). In fact, it’s almost completely silent, except for the occasional sound of the compressor kicking in. This makes it perfect for an open-plan kitchen or a living room bar area.
It has a switchable door that can open to the left or right, depending on the layout of your home and it comes with a pair of keys, so you can lock it – for the security of your collection or to keep kids out. And if the door is left open, an alarm will sound to alert you: it’s quite a gentle noise, like an old-school watch alarm.
The single best feature of the wine cellar is its dual space tech. It allows you to set two different temperature zones, so you can store red and white wine in the same appliance, both at their ideal temperature.
You can set the zones manually, either using the touchscreen on the front of the bank or via the app, at any temperature between 5 and 20°C. You can also choose to view the temperature in °F.
If you scan your wine (more on this later), the app will suggest a temperature for the zone, or you can use one of the presets: for red wine, white wine, sparkling, Champagne, structured, rosé or dessert. There’s even a setting for whisky.
But why not just buy a regular drinks fridge and leave your red wine out?
Well, if you want to store wine for any length of time, you’ll probably need something better than your average wine rack. A wine rack won’t protect your precious bottles from temperature fluctuations, light damage or getting bumped around whenever someone walks past.
There are a few ways you can go wrong storing wine. Most people know to lay a bottle on its side to ensure that the cork doesn’t dry out. But the ambient humidity of the storage area is also important to ensure that outer end of the cork stays in good shape. Haier’s wine bank controls the interior humidity so that it always remains in the ideal zone, between 50-70%.
Wine shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight either. UV rays can mess with the wine’s chemical makeup, creating ‘wine faults’ that affect its taste and smell. The Haier wine bank has a UV-proof glass door and is lit with LEDs that won’t damage the wine or affect the temperature in the cabinet.
It also has vibration protection, to stop your bottles being jostled around.
There are two ways you could use the Haier wine bank. The first is to view it as a straightforward wine bank with all the tech safeguards you’ll need to keep your wine in tip-top condition. The second – and this is how to get the most from it – is to use it to curate your own wine collection. This is where the app comes in.
The wine bank is a connected appliance that works with the hOn app – like all connected appliances from Haier, Hoover and Candy. hOn is free to download and use and available for both Apple and Android.
The set-up was straightforward. It’s a simple matter of getting on to your home’s Wi-Fi and pairing the appliance with the app.
Once online, you can change the temperature of the two zones via the app and check the humidity level (which can't be altered manually) but the majority of its functionality is geared towards curating your wine collection.
To this end, Haier has partnered with Vivino, the wine merchant and specialist. When you register your appliance, you’ll be emailed a 10% off voucher for Vivino. This will be a boon or an annoyance, depending on whether you'll use the discount or just feel like you're getting an upsell.
But like it or not, the app is really about the Vivino functionality. And some of it is really great, like the option to identify your wine by photographing the label. The wines are then stored on the app under ‘Latest Uploads’, where you can view details about them, including their region, grape, winery and vintage. It’ll also suggest the right food pairings for them. Vivino successfully identified all of the supermarket wines I scanned.
When you drink a bottle, you can delete it from your current selection but it’ll remain in your ‘Wine history’, where you can rate it, view its details and (inevitably) buy it again from Vivino if you choose.
There are some other, less successful features, including a preferences quiz that’s designed to help the app suggest wines you might enjoy.
I tried it on both beginner and expert but found its questions to be too basic to really help the app to identify my taste or budget. A typical expert level question was: “What type of wine do you prefer?” The options were sparkling, white, red and rosé.
Once I finished the quiz, among my suggested wines was a Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne, at £158.99 a bottle. Right, thanks for that. I can't think why I don't buy that little-known wine more often.
One thing to note: if you have a problem with the app or appliance and have to remove and re-pair it, you will lose your stored catalogue information. If you’ve scanned 40 bottles of wine, that will be very annoying indeed.
The app is generally easy to use, although navigating its options is more complicated and I had a few frustrating occasions when I found myself clicking around before I found the correct page to change a setting.
Price & availability
Most people don't have 40 bottles of wine sitting around, begging for storage. Most people don't need a wine bank like this. It's the sort of covetable lifestyle tech that, for people like me, at least, fits better into a fantasy lifestyle than a real one.
There’s really no need for a wine fridge in my home. Wine doesn’t really hang around long enough to need dedicated storage, let alone its own lovely, glossy wine bank. But although I don't need it, now that I've seen it, I really want it.
However, although the hardware is fantastic, I found the app to be a mixed bag. There was a lot of useful, easily accessible information about wine but some of the other features were less successful. Plus, if you have to re-pair your appliance, you'll lose all of your catalogued wine info and will have to re-scan your bottles.
But on the whole, if you're an oenophile, and you're feeling flush, it's hard to imagine what else you could wish for in wine storage.
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