10 Best

Wine Coolers

of September 2023

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A Guide to Selecting a Wine Cooler

Yehudah Posnick

Having a special appliance just to refrigerate wine might seem a bit of a “rich people problem”. Wine isn’t like milk or juice which will spoil if it’s not refrigerated. But keeping wine at a desired range of temperatures is an important part of preserving its taste for any length of time. If you expose wine to sunlight and warm temperatures, natural fruit acids and sugars can quickly break down in the bottle. This will cause the flavor to change drastically, even to the point where it develops a bitter or sour taste. And that’s true even if the bottle hasn’t been opened yet, and you leave it out at room temperature!

We’ll see that there are a few different types of wine coolers, in terms of where you can place them, such as under the counter, on a counter, or freestanding. And there are two main refrigeration techniques, which influence the temperature range of the wine cooler, as well as energy consumption and how noisy it is. There are small-capacity coolers for just 6 bottles, and large models that can hold 56 bottles or more! Whether in your home, or in an establishment that serves wine, a wine cooler can be a welcome addition.

Types of Wine Coolers

We can distinguish between wine coolers by where you can place them in your kitchen, or in a bar or restaurant:

  • Freestanding wine cooler: These are usually larger appliances, that you place on the floor, like the refrigerator in your home. But you have to leave around 3” of room in the back of a freestanding wine cooler and 12” above it, so that its fan can dissipate the heat from inside the unit. An example of a freestanding wine cooler is the hOmeLabs 25-Bottle Wine Cooler.

hOmeLabs 25-Bottle Wine Cooler

There are also countertop freestanding wine coolers, such as the Koolatron 6-Bottle Wine Cooler. It’s small enough to fit on a kitchen counter, and is suitable for an apartment, condo, or RV.

Koolatron 6-Bottle Wine Cooler

  • Built-in wine cooler: This is usually placed under the counter or inside a cabinet. It is supplied with vents in the front and fans underneath the unit to draw in cool air and expel warm air. You should still allow for 0.25-0.5 cm of space around the unit to allow for air flow. An example is the Smith & Hanks 32-Bottle Wine Refrigerator. It can be used as a built-in unit, or a freestanding unit.

Smith & Hanks 32-Bottle Wine Refrigerator

  • Fully-integrated: These are similar to built-in wine coolers, but a fully-integrated cooler is only to be installed inside a cabinet, and is enclosed on all sides. You may prefer a fully-integrated unit if you want your cooler to fit in with the decor, that it appears as part of the furniture.

We can also distinguish between the wine cooler’s method of refrigeration. There are two main technologies that are used:

  • Thermoelectric wine cooler: These use a heat pump that transfers heat from inside the cooler to outside the unit. They tend to be quieter and vibrate less, but they are more dependent on the ambient temperature and won’t be as efficient if the room is very warm. They tend to be smaller units, since they’re less efficient as they get larger. An example is the Cuisinart 8-Bottle Private Reserve Wine Cellar.

Cuisinart 8-Bottle Private Reserve Wine Cellar

  • Compressor wine cooler: This design is more efficient than the thermoelectric models. A compressor wine cooler typically lasts up to 2 times longer than an thermoelectric wine cooler. They also offer a greater range of operating temperatures (around 5-22 C, or 41-71.6 F), and they can be made larger, to accommodate more bottles. It employs a refrigerant that absorbs heat from inside the unit, making it evaporate. A compressor then converts the refrigerant back to liquid. It tends to be noisier and vibrates more, but there are supports that you can attach that absorb vibrations. An example is the Wine Enthusiast VinoView 28-Bottle Freestanding Refrigerator.

Wine Enthusiast VinoView 28-Bottle Freestanding Refrigerator

What reviewers say

Here are some customers’ impressions about the wine cooler that they bought:

  • Won’t hold as many bottles as advertised: One customer said that his Cabernet bottles tend to be longer, so they didn’t fit in the Frigidaire Two-Zone Wine Cooler. Also, he had to remove a shelf to get a bottle with a wider bottom inside the unit.

  • Prefer shelves on rollers: Some wine coolers have their shelves on rollers, so that it’s easy to slide out a shelf when looking for a wine. If the shelves aren’t on rollers, you have to leave the door open for longer, and more heat enters the cooler.

  • Child-safety lock: There are wine coolers with a child-safety lock. They can either use a key to lock the door, or a control panel lock feature that locks the door automatically 20 seconds after pressing a button, as in the NutriChef Compressor Refrigerator White & Red Chiller Countertop Cooler. This will prevent children from playing with the door, or perhaps breaking one of the wine bottles.

Important Features

Here are some tips to help you select a wine cooler:

  • Features of the doors: You’ll notice that some wine coolers have a reversible door. You can switch the position of the door, so that it opens on the right side or the left side, depending on what is more convenient in your kitchen or bar. Also, some doors have double- or even triple-layers of glass, as well as insulation to keep heat from penetrating. All of the wine coolers that we reviewed have special glass that blocks UV light. Exposure to UV light can damage tannins and other ingredients that lend your wines a distinct flavor. Some coolers even have mirrored glass to keep light out.

  • Space available inside: Most 750-ml wine bottles are a standard size, although there are also larger bottles for champagne or prosecco. Many wine coolers will have a designated shelf to allow for larger bottles of wine. Otherwise, they’ll let you adjust the shelf spacing so that you can put in larger bottles.

  • Automatic defrost: Ice may accumulate in your wine cooler over time, and you’ll have to defrost it to allow the cool air to circulate in it properly. Some wine coolers have an automatic defrost, so that you don’t have to turn off the unit and defrost it yourself.

  • Dual-zone cooling: It’s recommended that white and rosé wines, as well as sparkling wines be kept at a cooler temperature (41-54 ℉) than red wine (where you can store them at 55-64 ℉). The Wine Enthusiast 18-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler is one unit that allow you to set the upper and lower halves at two different temperatures. Most wine coolers use touchbutton controls to modify the lighting and temperature, so that you don’t have to open the unit to make any adjustments.

Final Verdict

We went through some of the best wine coolers in the Best Reviews Guide list. You see that there is a wide selection of coolers, depending on the number of bottles that you need to store, or whether you have to store different types of wine that each are best under specific conditions. Whether you want to preserve the quality of your wines, or just to enjoy wine at its ideal temperature, a wine cooler is a great convenience!


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