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Buying Guide

Wine Coolers Buying Guide

Things to Consider
A wine cooler thermometer set to 62 degrees.

Though there are many varietals, wine itself is very delicate and can spoil or turn if it’s not stored the right way. A wine cooler will keep your wine’s temperature, light exposure and movement as balanced as possible. Here are some things to consider when shopping for your new wine cooler. 

  • Temperature: Because a standard refrigerator typically cools food to around 38 degrees, it’s too cold for storing wine. Most wine needs to be kept at about 55 degrees to maintain freshness. 
  • Appearance: Choose the style that works with the rest of your home's decor. While stainless steel is a popular choice, a wood tone or black finish may work best in your home. 
  • Budget: As always, keep your budget in mind. 
Size of Wine Cooler
Six bottles of wine laying on a shelf inside a wine cooler.

Consider the amount of bottles you plan to store. Wine is best stored on its side rather than vertical, so be sure you find a unit with spacious shelves, if you have many bottles to store. An average wine cooler should have room to store between 20 to 30 bottles at a time while larger wine coolers can store up to 60 bottles at once. 

Styles of Wine Cooler
A stainless steel built-in wine cooler installed in a kitchen island.

There are two styles of wine coolers available: freestanding and built-in. Determining which is right for you will depend on your kitchen layout, budget and overall needs. 

  • Free standing: Portable and easy to use in any room in the house, these units feature either rear or side vents, which means they require room to breathe and shouldn’t be installed into cabinetry. This is ideal if you aren't planning to undergo a remodel.
  • Built-in: Made to be installed into cabinetry, these units feature front venting. 
Cooling Zones
A dual zone built-in wine cooler.

Narrowing down your wine cooler choice will also depend on the type of cooling zones you need. If you only collect red or white wine, then you will be all set with a single zone wine cooler. However, if you like to drink both, the right choice for you may be a dual, or double, zone unit. Here are the differences: 

Single Zone: 

  • Features only one storage space with one temperature to cool all wines
  • Cost effective
  • Best for one type of wine (red or white)
  • Good for long-term storage
  • Typically smaller than dual zone coolers

Dual Zone

  • Features a partition and two separate cooling zones 
  • Ideal for storing red and white simultaneously 
  • May be larger than single zone units 
Wine Cooler Noise and Efficiency
A free standing wine cooler sits near a sofa.

Wine coolers run on either thermoelectric or compressor systems. The differences between the two are based on energy levels as well as noise levels. The type you choose will depend solely on the size unit you need as well as your budget. Here are the features and benefits of each: 

Thermoelectric: Pushes electricity through a heat pump, pulling heat out of the cooler and keeping the cool air inside. 

  • More energy efficient than compressor systems
  • Lightweight
  • Because it uses a different cooling system, it will take longer to cool wine than a compressor system
  • Usually has less capacity for bottle storage
  • Quiet 

Compressor: Compressor cools air by pushing chemical refrigerant through coils down the unit as soon as it detects that the temperature has increased inside. 

  • System works more like a standard refrigerator 
  • Heavier than thermoelectric due to compressor unit
  • Cools wine rapidly 
  • Able to cool more wines at once 
  • Noisier than thermoelectric 
  • Less energy-efficient 
Other Features to Look For
A wine cooler features special lighting to reduce UV exposure.

Lastly, there are few special features you may want to consider when shoppping for your wine cooler. 

  • Safety: If you live in a home with small children, look for a wine cooler than features child locks. This will ensure bottles stay secure. 
  • Protected glass: Choosing a cooler with triple pane glass or glass with UV protection will help reduce wine's light exposure.  
  • Adjustable racks: Look for coolers with racks that can be adjusted to different heights. 
  • Adjustable doors: Some coolers will allow you to switch the swing of the door. This will allow you to move the cooler and make sure that you can use it in any space you choose.