HOW TO · Tips · Wine storage

Storage tips for #NationalWineDay

grapes 476 x 249

Happy #NationalWineDay! We want to assist whether you’re planning a party or getting a gift for yourself to celebrate.

Pop quiz: What are the best temperatures for storing wine?

It’s OK to admit it. Not a lot of people have the temperatures memorized for their Gewürztraminer versus their Chianti, so we’re going to tell you our recommendations.

Standard Wines:

  • Assorted Wine: 54°F (12°C)
  • Red Wine: 64°F (17°C)
  • Sweet Wine: 42°F (5°C)
  • White and Rosé Wine: 50°F (10°C)

Other Wines:

  • Champagne: 46° (7°C)
  • Sake: Below 68°F (20°C)
  • Port: 60°F (15.5°C)
  • Light Mead: 49°F (9.5°C)
  • Dark Mead: 64°F (75.5°C)

For optimal serving temperature, do not let wine get above 68° for reds and 55° for whites. Temperatures dramatically affect taste and smell, and you need that spicy, cherry-like aroma to breathe when pouring a Grenache through your decanter.

Also, don’t use the freezer anymore! You can keep your bubbly ready for any occasion without risking explosion from freezing, and you can stop ruining the crisp taste of your homemade honey mead.

Vibration, light, and humidity are additional factors that affect quality. Fortunately, there are wine and beverage storage appliances that are technologically designed to both protect and keep consistent storage temperatures.

Are you a collector? Chef? Host? At-home winemaker? Occasional wine drinker that buys bulk for economic advantage? Maybe you need a special place with the right consistent temperature to age a 1974 Château Latour.

Wine and beverage storage appliances  make perfect gifts for any style. When wine leaves an appropriately pre-set cooler, it is already within optimal serving temperatures. These appliances also make excellent assets for entertaining, and they provide amazing aesthetic value to your home.

Here are a few examples that might work for you.

This Jenn-Air Under-Counter Beverage Center features independent temperature zones, 6 temperature presets and automatic interior LED lighting. It can fit up to 14 average sized wine bottles.

jennair cellar

 

One of our most popular beverage storage units is the Frigidaire Gallery 52-Bottle Wine Cooler with a convertible shelf, LED digital control and decorative wood trim for a sophisticated look.

frig wine

 

For serious prize collectors, the True Residential 30″ Wine Column preserves, protects, and flaunts up to 150 of your favorite bottles. It also features dual-zone True Precision® Control, extendable smooth-glide racks and LED lighting.

wine column

 

We assume you love wine because you’re reading this, but these coolers are good for any home. Add a modern look to your bar or kitchen, keep bottles on hand for guests or use them for something else entirely. Are you a beer drinker?

Still, we’re pretty sure you love wine.

 

 

 

cooking · HOW TO · Ranges

How to buy a stove/range – shopping tips

Whether you call it a stove or a range, you’re going to want to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for a new … oh I give up.

black-electric-range

Though freestanding ranges are the most commonly used, slide-in ranges are growing in popularity. Featuring unfinished sides and controls on the front, this style lends a more built-in look, great for islands, and featuring decorative backsplashes. Professional ranges mimic the performance and appearance of a true commercial range.

pro-style-range

Pro-style ranges use the most durable components and achieve high temperatures for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering.

Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) can include built-in griddles and grills. Their ovens offer convection and high-temperature broiling. Convection ovens use airflow for even heat distribution and consistent baking, even with multiple racks. When cooking meats, convection fans sear the skin to retain moisture.

wolf-range

Gas vs. electric

Professional and aspiring chefs usually prefer gas due to a common misconception of all-around superior performance; In most cases electric ranges boil liquid just as quickly and frequently, electric burners reach extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. But the heat-retention qualities of electric coils and ceramic surfaces cannot range from high to low heat instantaneously as gas cooktops can. But glass surfaces of electric ranges are the easiest to clean and maintain.

When it comes to ovens, electric responds quicker to temperature changes, providing less heat variance overall for more consistent baking results. However, gas ovens provide more “moist heat,” which is better for meats and vegetables. For cooks who want the best of both worlds, the dual-fuel range has the flexibility and control of gas burners on the cooktop with the accuracy and precision of an electric oven.

Induction range burners use magnets to directly heat cookware and leaving the surface cool to the touch, combining an unmatched degree of safety with high power and the responsiveness of gas.

‘HOT’ features to consider

  • Warming Drawer – functions as a keep-warm area.
  • Second Oven – additional cavity functions as a separate oven. Perfect for cooking short items such as pizzas, pies, casseroles, etc.

slide-in-double-oven-range

  • Split Oven Racks – can be partially removed as needed for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.

    split-rack
    Split racks accommodate simultaneous baking of tall dishes.
Freezer · HOW TO · Refrigerator · Wine storage

HOW TO: buy a refrigerator

Buying a refrigerator can be a difficult decision, considering all the sizes, styles and prices available. But most importantly (after making sure it fits), the refrigerator you choose should reflect the way your family uses your kitchen and accesses fresh or frozen food.

stainless-steel-refrigerator

Top-freezer refrigerators position the freezer at eye level while the refrigerator compartment offers wide shelves, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow access to items in the back of the refrigerator.

side by side black refrigerator

Side-by-side refrigerators feature the freezer on the left and the refrigerator on the right. Side-by-sides require less door swing clearance, perfect for kitchen layouts with narrow walkways or an island.

stainless-bottom-freezer-refrigerator

Bottom freezer refrigerators are today’s most popular refrigerator style. The refrigerator is opened nine to 10 times more often than the freezer, so it’s convenient to locate the refrigerator at waist or chest level.

four door french door refrigerator

French door refrigerators, the industry’s fastest growing style, is like a bottom-freezer but with French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center. The symmetrical styling allows easier installation with less door clearance to impede a walkway or island. Wide refrigerator shelves easily store large party trays.

samsung french door refrigeratorSome models, like the one pictured above, come with a fourth drawer. Depending on the model, the fourth drawer is a second refrigerator compartment or a second freezer compartment. However, as is the case with the Samsung refrigerator pictured to the right, sometimes the fourth drawer offers more temperature options (think chilling wine versus storing meats) than you’d probably select with your main fresh food compartment.

‘Cool’ features to consider

• A Dual-Compressor System cools the refrigerator and freezer separately. This preserves food substantially longer, better retaining the food’s natural internal moisture.

• Chilling Drawers brings air directly from the freezer into a sealed refrigerator compartment to, for instance, cool a warm beverage to ice cold in 15 minutes!

• Hidden Hinge extends door heights to cover hinges and create a more built-in look.

• Gallon Storage Door Bins hold large milk and juice jugs in the door to free up precious shelf space.

Cabinet-depth models provide a sleek and seamless appearance. The shallow 24” depth aligns with surrounding cabinetry, again, offering a more “built-in” look.

Tip: A common mistake when buying a new refrigerator is not properly measuring the maximum height, depth and width of the space it will fit into. There is no “standard” in refrigerator. However, if your opening is 36” wide and 70” high, you will have a wide selection of models to choose from. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 1” of clearance on each side of the refrigerator for breathing room.

Dishwashers · HOW TO

Tips for buying a dishwasher

Sizes & styles

Though dishwashers are relatively standard in size at 24” wide, you may have less than 34” in height if, say, new flooring was laid on top of old flooring. Or your countertops are slightly lower for handicap accessibility.

In these cases, you will need to seek out a “short tub” or ADA compliant dishwasher. An increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls along the top of the door instead of front controls for a more seamless appearance. For a truly integrated appearance, several manufacturers offer models with an unfinished door, able to accept a custom wood panel.

Frigidaire's OrbitClean alternating arm action  focuses four times more water and detergent in a  concentrated area while rotating around the interior.
Frigidaire’s OrbitClean alternating arm action focuses four times more water and detergent in a
concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Basic models offer just one or two spray arms, but most dishwashers have a spray arm on the bottom, in the middle, and at the top of the dishwasher tub. These spray arms typically have a direct feed of water as opposed to the indirect tower design of the past.

European-style models (i.e. Bosch, ASKO, Miele, Electrolux, etc.) use a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models feature high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and water pressure creates a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease.

miele-cutlery-tray

Traditionally, silverware baskets are located front and center in the lower rack, but some models feature a long basket on the side of the lower rack, which often can be split into sub baskets and relocated or removed. Some high-end dishwashers offer a flat, dedicated silverware tray at the top of the dishwasher that frees up more space in main racks.

dcs-tall-dishdrawerFor flexible use options, consider dish drawer dishwashers, which can be purchased as single drawer (using half the water and electricity of a standard dishwasher) or double units (each drawer runs independently for convenient flexibility). Drawers also reduce bending for those with back or knee problems.

Features to consider

  • Anti-Leak Safety – shields hardwood floors from damage in the case of an internal leak. Water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. A sensor within the safety pan may also shut down the dishwasher to prevent further damage.
  • Internal Water Softener – ensures soft water is used, which reduce fogging and etching to glassware and improves cleaning power of detergent
  • Stainless steel interiors are less likely to absorb odors or stains than plastic interiors and results in a quicker overall dry time through condensation
  • Third racks may be adjusted and nearly removable to use otherwise-wasted space. Sometimes used as a glassware rack for the frequent entertainer.
  • Hard food disposers typically grind up food particles and flush them out, but European-style models’ high wash temperatures and increased water pressure emulsify food waste that is washed away at the end of the cycle. Not using a disposer means less energy consumption and fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakdowns and quieter operation. A food trap prevents more durable items, such as chicken bones, from entering into the mechanics of the unit.

Star-Sapphire_time

  • LED electronic read-outs – show the time remaining in a cycle. Wash times are longer today than they were in the past to make up for today’s more eco-friendly but less-potent detergent. A normal wash used to be 45- 60 minutes, but is now between 90-135 minutes, depending on the model.
Dishwashers · FAQ · HOW TO

Dishwasher troubleshooting: How much dish detergent to use

Who's ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I'll have what she's having, please.
Who’s ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I’ll have what she’s having, please.

When determining how much dishwasher soap to use, ignore the size of the dispenser in your dishwasher and whatever you do, ignore the suggestions made by the detergent-makers, whose interest it is to get you to overuse soap.

You probably only need a fraction of what detergent-makers want you to use. If that sounds fishy to you, consider that modern dishwashers use far less water than their ancestors, they also require less soap to do the job.

Back in the late 70s, the average dishwasher cycle burned through 11 to 15 gallons. This decreased to an average six to 10 gallons per normal cycle in 2000. These days, dishwashers use as little as 2 gallons of water; they simply use it better.

 

Proper dishwasher detergent amount

So, the answer to the $64,000 question?

KitchenAid says to use anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 3 tablespoons, depending on how dirty your dishes are and how hard your water is:

dishwasherdetergentamountchart1

Postscript (now, this is important)

soap-dishwasherIt doesn’t matter how much or how little soap you use, if you pre-wash your dishes, they won’t get as clean. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

But dishwasher detergent needs a little bit of grime to activate. And some dishwashers are equipped with a “turbidity sensor,” which monitors how clean the water in the dishwasher is and adjust accordingly, eliminating cycles and not fully heating the water if the dishwasher doesn’t sense that it needs to.

Scrape, don’t rinse and try using less soap. Get the hardness of your water tested, as that can also be a giant leap toward clean dishes.

cooking · HOW TO · Microwave

Baking tips: how to soften butter

microwaving-butter
Betcha didn’t think Christmas cookie baking could be improved with your microwave.

This weekend, the ladies in my family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

“How do you get butter to soften without melting it?”

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.

Softening gone wrong
Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.
Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

 

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

About Warners' Stellian · Budget-wise · Events · HOW TO

HOW TO: shop the Warner Stellian Warehouse Sale 2012

What is it with us Midwesterners and our deal-bragging? You know: upon receiving a compliment we gloat about the gasp-worthy low price we got it for, unsolicited. Perhaps it’s because we fancy ourselves pro deal hunters.

But our Extreme Warehouse Sale this Saturday and Sunday is no Macy’s clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

Here are some Extreme Sale pros, lined up before the sale.

Before the sale

Don’t be a fool; Use this tool.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also, measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through.

Know your fuel type
You’ll need to know whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer, a range or a cooktop.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out our Web site for more ideas on what features are important to you.

 

The day of the sale

Bring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 14 days.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale. We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection.

appliancewarehousesale

After the sale

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive a call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install.

Apply for rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by rebate. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire.

Don’t waste your investment because you lack product knowledge.

Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Don’t ignore accessories

If you get a dishwasher, buy rinse aid to help dry your dishes. If you buy a smooth-top electric range, you’ll want cooktop cleaner to keep it looking new. The water filter in your fridge will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. And please, for the sake of your breathing, don’t overstuff your vacuum bags!

Visit my blog
Every Wednesday, I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting questions like, “Why is my washer smelly?” and “How do I clean stainless steel?” It’s also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!