For true wine aficionados, storing wine in the refrigerator next to the milk and OJ just isn’t going to cut it. The ideal temperature at which to properly store wine is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit; a fridge is simply too cold for long-term wine storage. If you’re someone who spends oodles on wine (particularly wine that you age for a few years before drinking it), it makes sense to invest in a wine cooler that will protect those prized bottles of Bordeaux, Champagne, and Burgundy.
A wine cooler uses a compressor to cool the air to the ideal temperature to store and protect wine. These units range from small countertop models that can hold a dozen bottles to large stand-alone units that can store a collection of 50 bottles or more. Some models even integrate seamlessly with under-counter kitchen cabinets and sport attractive stainless-steel exteriors with glass doors, wood shelves, and LED lighting.
If you need a home for your expanding wine collection, read on to learn about the features you should look for in one of these appliances—and why the models below top our list of best wine coolers.
- BEST OVERALL: NutriChef 12 Bottle Wine Cooler Refrigerator PKCWC12
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Antarctic Star Wine Cooler Beverage Refrigerator
- BEST DUAL ZONE: Aobosi 15 inch Wine Cooler, Dual Zone Refrigerator
- BEST FREESTANDING: Phiestina 15 Inch Dual Zone Wine Cooler
- BEST SMALL: KUPPET 19 Bottles Wine Cooler
- BEST COUNTERTOP: Ivation 12 Bottle Compressor Wine Cooler
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: Kalamera 24″ Wine Cooler
Types of Wine Coolers
The main thing that differentiates the three types of wine fridges is the number of bottles they hold, ranging from a dozen bottles to 40 or more. Read on to learn more about each type of wine cooler.
Freestanding coolers function like mini fridges that are set at a wine-friendly temperature. They come in many sizes, ranging from compact to full-size refrigerators. The larger ones are the perfect solutions for oenophiles who collect and age wine. Freestanding wine refrigerators do take up floor space, so make sure you have a place for it to live.
Countertop wine coolers are sized to fit on top of your counter and are therefore the most compact wine fridges. Most holding just four to eight bottles of wine, countertop coolers are a good option for wine connoisseurs who drink their bottlings soon after purchasing them rather than aging them over the long term. The downside to countertop models, of course, is they take up valuable real estate on your kitchen counter. Like a refrigerator, this type of cooler also needs some space behind it to ventilate the unit’s cooler properly.
A built-in wine cooler fits seamlessly with the cabinets in your kitchen, just as a dishwasher does. Unlike other cooler types, built-ins do not require ventilation behind or around them. Depending on size, this type of cooler will hold 30 or more bottles of wine. The advantages of built-in coolers are they take up the least amount of floor space and look the most integrated and upscale of all. The drawback? You’ll obviously have to sacrifice some cabinet space. Built-ins are also usually the most expensive wine coolers you can buy.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wine Cooler
Capacity, temperature range, and single- or dual-zone temperatures are just a few of the factors to consider when shopping for a cooler to chill your wine collection.
Size and Bottle Capacity
Wine coolers are made in a wide range of sizes and capacities: Countertop coolers are the smallest, and refrigerator-height, stand-alone coolers are the largest. Smaller coolers measure about 18 inches wide and 20 inches tall and can hold a maximum of a dozen bottles of wine. Medium-size stand-alone or built-in units are typically around 34 inches tall or about the height of a countertop. This size has a capacity of about 30 bottles. Wider stand-alone units can hold 50 bottles or more.
Single vs. Dual Zone
Single-zone coolers feature one cooling area and, therefore, one cooling temperature, whereas dual-zone coolers have two separate cooling zones that you can set to different temperatures. The dual-zone models provide more versatility. For many wine enthusiasts, keeping both reds and whites at 55 degrees is just fine because that’s the temperature at which wines are best protected from aging prematurely. If you’re a true wine connoisseur who collects expensive wines that require different temperatures for optimal storage, consider a dual-zone cooler. With a dual-zone cooler, for example, you can chill whites and Champagnes at a cooler temperature than reds.
The optimal temperature for storing most wine is 55 degrees, although some wines keep better at cooler or warmer temperatures. Most wine coolers offer a wide temperature range from the low 40s, allowing for proper chilling of Champagnes and sparkling wines, to the mid-60s, a temperature that suits certain types of red wine. Dual-zone coolers will typically offer one zone with a temperature range on the higher end and a cooler section for whites and sparkling wines.
Like refrigerators, most wine coolers use compressors to cool their interiors. These compressors operate quietly with little to no vibration. Many run at less than 40 decibels, which means less background noise in your kitchen or living room. Too much vibration can damage the wine by upsetting the sediment in the bottle.
Some wine fridges cool through thermoelectric technology, which uses an electric current that passes through two pieces of metal to create a cooling effect. This method eliminates the vibration associated with compressors, which can damage wine. However, thermoelectric coolers struggle to reach temperatures below 50 degrees, which limits their versatility.
Compressor wine coolers function like standard refrigerators, so they consume a significant amount of power. Depending on its capacity, a compressor wine cooler can use between 80 and 150 watts of power when the compressor turns on to cool the air. A full-size refrigerator/freezer, in comparison, uses about 1,200 watts when running. Thermoelectric coolers draw between 50 and 75 watts. However, you may end up spending as much powering them as you would a compressor cooler because thermoelectric coolers need to run more often to maintain their internal temperature. In general, you’ll spend about $150 per year in energy costs to power a wine cooler, depending on its size.
Door Type and Style
Whereas most folks are more than happy to hide the contents of their refrigerators behind a solid stainless-steel door, many wine lovers like displaying several dozen perfectly aligned bottles in their kitchen or living space. Such a look adds a feel of luxury and wealth to any home. This is why most wine fridge’s doors are made of thick tempered glass that provides a stunning view of your wine collection while keeping the fridge properly insulated. Most wine coolers have stainless-steel exteriors, wood shelving, and soft LED lighting, all of which add to the aesthetics of the appliance.
Wine coolers use quiet technology to eliminate noise and vibrations. Most operate at less than 40 decibels, and some even below 30 decibels.
Many wine coolers offer features that make them more versatile to use. Units with touch controls make it easy to regulate the temperature, and fridges with memory features will revert to your selected temperature settings in the event of a power outage. Wine drinkers with children in the house might want to consider a unit with a locking door. Fridges with removable racks allow you to rearrange your cooler to accommodate oddly shaped or oversize bottles.
Our Top Picks
These wine fridges are some of the top coolers in their classes: powerful compressors that offer accurate chilling and wide temperature ranges; some have additional features like dual temperature zones and locking doors.
With its compact, low-profile design, attractive looks, and ability to hold accurate temperatures, the NutriChef is a worthy chiller for your wine collection. This wine fridge will store up to 12 bottles of wine, keeping them cold until it’s time to uncork the bottle. Its precision compressor can maintain precise temperatures between 41 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Integrated chrome racks securely hold your collection in place, and LED lighting helps you locate just the right bottle.
NutriChef’s advanced cooling system operates quietly while maintaining accurate temperatures. This wine cooler measures 18 inches deep, 31 inches high, and just 10 inches wide and won’t take up a ton of floor space in your kitchen or dining room. An LED digital display with simple controls makes setting the temperature easy.
This countertop wine cooler is compact, but it has a surprisingly large capacity. Best of all, it’s affordable and will please wine and beer drinkers alike. Antarctic’s 1.6-cubic-foot model will hold both wine bottles and canned beer, allowing you to keep a wide range of beverages cold. It measures 17 inches deep, 17 inches high, and 19 inches tall. A removable partition allows you to customize the interior to accommodate a variety of bottle and can sizes, and its temperature can be set to between 40 and 61 degrees. It has a reversible door hinge, so you can change from which side the door opens. An LED light allows you to see what’s in the cooler without having to open it.
Some wines must be stored at precise temperatures to keep them from spoiling. This dual-zone wine cooler from Aobosi has two compartments, so you can accommodate wines with different temperature requirements. The upper zone has a temperature range of 41 to 54 degrees, and the lower zone stores wines at between 54 and 68 degrees. In the event of a power outage, the cooler will reset itself to your preset temperature. With enough capacity to handle 28 750-milliliter wine bottles, this fridge can handle more extensive collections. The aesthetics of this Aobosi cooler—its beechwood shelves and stainless-steel exterior—look pretty posh, too.
This unit has front-facing ventilation, so it can be installed as a built-in or a stand-alone cooler. Its quiet, built-in compressor runs efficiently at just 42 decibels, saving you energy. A security lock keeps your bottles safe from curious children.
Dual zones, a compact size, and impressive capacity make the Phiestina one of the best freestanding wine coolers we found. This compact unit measures just 15 inches wide, 22 inches deep, and 34 inches tall but holds up to 29 bottles of wine. It also offers two cooling zones: a top compartment that cools to between 40 and 50 degrees and a bottom compartment that cools to between 50 and 66 degrees. Whether you’re storing reds, whites, or bubblies, this cooler has you covered.
One thing that’s cool about the Phiestina is that its removable shelves have safety stoppers—you can pull a shelf out to select a wine without worrying about the shelf falling out completely. Easy-to-use and read LED controls make setting temperatures for both zones easy. With its stainless-steel finish and blue LED lighting, this cooler is a handsome addition to a home bar or kitchen.
Molded racks, easy-to-use controls, quiet operation, and a broad temperature range make this cooler an excellent option for smaller wine collections. It features three stainless curved wine racks for holding wine bottles and a lower drawer for added storage. Though it can easily accommodate up to 19 bottles, this refrigerator won’t clutter your countertop.
A quiet compressor that runs at less than 35 decibels allows this cooler to be seen but not heard. It features a broad temperature range of 41 to 64 degrees, allowing you to cool a variety of beverages. An LED display with touch controls enables easy temperature adjustments. It’s 18.5 inches wide, 17.1 inches deep, and 20.34 inches tall.
This small and quiet wine cooler is an excellent option for countertop use. It is just 17 inches deep, 18.5 inches wide, and 21 inches high and can hold 12 bottles of wine. A temperature range of 41 to 64 degrees makes this cooler suitable for chilling different types of wine. A compressor cooling system with a circulating fan keeps the interior at a constant temperature without vibrations that can damage the wine.
The Ivation’s double-paned thermopane glass door maintains a constant temperature while keeping harmful UV rays from damaging your wine. Its four shelves are removable, so you can accommodate oversize Burgundy and Champagne bottles, and its LED display makes setting the temperature easy.
With its modern appearance and large capacity, this cooler from Kalamera is a worthy choice for those with extensive wine collections. This unit holds up to 46 bottles and measures 22 inches deep, 23 inches wide, and about 33 inches high. It has front-facing ventilation, so it can stand alone or be installed as an under-counter cooler.
A stainless-steel exterior and wood shelves make this fridge an attractive addition to a wine aficionado’s kitchen. The shelves pull out and allow easy access to your collection, and the cooler’s LED light makes it easier to select the right bottle. Its quiet compressor runs with little to no vibration, keeping your wine cooled but not shaken. Two zones—an upper compartment that cools to between 40 and 50 degrees and a lower compartment that cools to between 50 and 66 degrees—allow you to chill both reds and whites at the proper temperature.
FAQs About Your New Wine Cooler
If you’re still wondering about how wine coolers work, look below for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these specialty appliances.
Q. How does a wine cooler work?
Most wine coolers use a compressor that’s similar to that of a refrigerator to cool its interior. Most wine coolers have adjustable thermostats that allow you to set the optimal temperature—usually around 55 degrees—for storing your wine.
Q. What is the difference between a wine cooler, wine refrigerator, and wine cellar?
Wine coolers and wine refrigerators function in the same way. They both store wines at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees. Wine refrigerators are larger and can hold 150 bottles of wine or more. Wine coolers are smaller, housing between a dozen and 50 bottles of wine. A wine cellar is a storage room, typically located below ground, that can hold hundreds of bottles. Wine cellars use a climate-control system to keep temperatures between 45 and 64 degrees and humidity at around 60 percent.
Q. What is the temperature range of a wine cooler?
A typical wine cooler has a temperature range of between 45 and 65 degrees. This allows for chilling wine for storage at the optimal temperature of 55 degrees. This broad range also lets you chill white wines to cooler temperatures and red wines to warmer temperatures for proper serving.
Q. How do you use a wine cooler?
Most wine is stored in a wine cooler horizontally as opposed to vertically. This position prevents the cork from drying out, which would allow air to enter the bottle and ruin the wine. A thermostat on the wine cooler lets you fine-tune the internal cooling temperature.
Q. How long does a wine cooler last?
A wine cooler, like a standard refrigerator, can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on the quality of the unit and how well it is maintained.