This Wine Cooler FAQ gives you comprehensive information about wine coolers, also known as wine refrigerators, helping you to make a well-informed buying decision.
This guide lists Frequently Asked Questions and the answers to them related to wine bottle coolers and wine storage in general.
Take your time to browse it hopefully you’ll be more knowledgeable about wine refrigerators and storing wines by the time you finish reading this page.
What are Wine Coolers and How They Work?
Wine coolers/wine refrigerators are electric appliances (capacity varies from 1-bottle chillers/warmers to refrigerated cabinets storing hundreds of bottles of wine) designed to store your wines at cool temperatures away from direct sunlight to preserve wine’s flavor, color and consistency.
These refrigerator-like appliances are designed for short term wine storage (max. 1 year).
Many people think the best place for storing a couple of bottles of wine is in a rack in the kitchen. This is the worst you can do to your wines. On hot summer days wine will cook in a kitchen where temperature reaches 77-80 deg.Fahrenheit.
Not to mention the level of UV light to which wines stored in a bright kitchen are exposed to. Even green bottles don’t provide proper protection against UV rays.
The recommended storage temperature for all types of wine is 55 °F (13 °C). This is the temperature where you want your bottles to be kept when you want to experience with aging.
TIP: Search and compare prices of the most popular wine cooler refrigerators.
The Right Drinking Temperature for Wines
To fully enjoy wines and experience their characteristic aroma and taste you have to drink them at the right temperatures.
Red wines like Bordeaux, syrah, and red Burgundy best show their characteristic taste at slightly higher temperature, at a round 63-64 °F (17 °C).
This is still 8-9 degrees less than room temperature. A glass of red wine drunk at too warm will taste dull, drunk too cold and it will taste sharp, even bitter.
Whites like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, reisling are recommended to be drunk at around 47- 48 °F (8-9 °C). This is way lower than the temperature in any kitchen.
Most people chill wine in the fridge next to all the food stuff.
But how long does it take for a bottle of room-temperature wine to reach the desired serving temperature in the fridge? Maybe 10-15 minutes depending on circumstances.
Storing wines in an ordinary fridge is not recommended for several reasons:
- temperature inside kitchen refrigerators is too cold (around 38 – 40 °F /3-5 °C) for storing any wine
- humidity is too low -varies between 17 % – 40 % – which can cause the cork to dry and shrink therefore letting air along with food odors inside the bottle Around 50 – 80% humidity is required for longer term wine storage.
And don’t put your wine in the freezer to get it chilled quickly. You may forget about it and waste a bottle of good wine.
For quick chilling get one of these 1-Bottle Wine Chillers or 2-bottle Wine Coolers (that can be used as warmers, too if you need a bottle of red from the wine cooler to be brought up to higher temperature).
And the latest cool wine preservation system is the EuroCave Sowine Home Wine Bar that conserves the quality of an opened, unfinished bottle of wine for a couple of days.
Humidity Level Inside Wine Coolers – Is it Important?
Cheap wine cooler models are able to maintain only 40 % humidity. Note that at least 50 % humidity is required in the wine storage are to prevent corks from drying out, shrinking and cracking.
Other wine refrigerator manufacturers developed some kind of way to maintain higher humidity level (50 %) inside the cooler: U-line wine refrigerators and EuroCave wine cellars both claim that their models have 50 % relative humidity.
Other brands, like Danby simply come with a plastic container that you are to fill with water and place it in the wine cooler to maintain a certain level of humidity. The results of these methods are probably unreliable.
The higher-end refrigerated wooden wine cabinets are likely to have more efficient control over humidity level.
TIP #1: Low cost-per-bottle, large capacity wine refrigerators with higher level of humidity are the Vintage Keeper Wine Coolers. You can get a 100-bottle capacity Vintage Keeper wine cooler for around 800 $.
TIP #2: Look for wine refrigerators that have decent temperature range, at least: 45 – 65 °F like the Danby DWC512BLS 51-bottle wine refrigerator.
This is an attractively-priced model, with low price-per-bottle cost (13.98 $ per bottle).
Silent operation, tinted, stainless steel framed glass door with reversible hinges, digital thermostat and accurate temperature control make this a good-value wine storage unit both for residential and commercial use.
Vibration – Why is it Detrimental to Wines in the Long Term?
No scientific study has been conducted to determine the effect of vibration on wines but the general consensus is that vibration may affect flavor and bouquet if wine is exposed to it for a longer period of time.
The worst effect of vibration is the dispersing sediments in wines and altering its consistency.
In my opinion you’re better off in the long run if you invest in a higher end wine refrigerator or home wine cellar and these more costly models all take care of vibration free operation so you can rest assured that your wines aren’t disturbed by any mechanical impact.
Types of Wine Cooler Refrigerators
What’s the difference between a wine cooler, wine refrigerator and wine cellar/wine cabinet?
Manufacturers and retailers use several terms to call wine storage units and unfortunately there’s no consensus or set definition regarding what sort of criteria a unit has to meet to be entitled to use the various names.
- Wine coolers are the same appliances as wine refrigerators: they are designed for short term (cc. 12 months) wine storage.
The vast majority of metal cabinet wine coolers are manufactured in Asia. This doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality since all of these appliances have to meet strict quality standards. But do take your time when doing a research before buiyng and select carefully.
The cheaper price tag shouldn’t be the most important factor, since very low priced models are usually unreliable and probably will break down in a couple of years of time.
- The term wine chiller is mainly used for single bottle or 2-bottle tabletop devices designed for quick chilling (or warming) of wine.
- Wine cabinets – these are usually refrigerated wooden cabinets designed for long term wine storage (like Le Cache Wine Cabinets, Vinotheque Wine Cabinets).
- Wine cellar – retailers often call wooden wine cabinets (even metal cabinet wine refrigerators) wine cellars. A wine cellar can also refer to a climate controlled walk-in wine room, like the General Electric Monogram Wine Vault. You see? Another term that you might encounter while researching wine storage solutions is “wine vault”
Thermoelectric or Compressor-Run
Thermoelectric cooling (aka Peltier cooling) is used in smaller appliances to create cooler temperatures than the ambient without the use of compressor and cooling agent. The cooling effect is caused by the interaction of electricity and two different types of metals, called semiconductors. See more details on thermoelectric cooling and thermoelectric wine coolers here.
Pros of thermoelectric wine coolers: since thermoelectric coolers contain only one moving part, the fan they have several advantages over compressor operated wine coolers:
- almost silent operation – only the fan makes some noise (e.g. the noise level of a 12-bottle thermoelectric wine cooler is around 25 dB or less)
- no moving parts = no vibration: ideal for generating cold air in appliances where vibration can be detrimental – e.g. in wine coolers
- compact size, very easy installation
- less maintenance – the fan can be easily replaced
- environmentally friendly – don’t contain hazardous cooling agents (CFC-s, HCFC-s, chlorofluorocarbons, carbohydrogens containing chlorene or fluor) like compressor based fridges.
Due to the limitation of thermoelectric cooling efficiency thermoelectric wine coolers are available from 4 bottles capacity up to max. 30-bottle units. The single- and dual-bottle chillers/warmers also use thermoelectric technique.
Compressor-Run Wine Refrigerators
Compressor-run wine coolers operate in the same way than ordinary kitchen fridges.
Compressor run refrigerators are said to be more efficient regarding that they consume less electricity to generate the same amount of cooled air than a thermoelectric cooler would require.
Conclusion: I would only by thermoelectric wine cooler only up to 12-18-bottle capacity, if you need a larger capacity unit definitely buy a compressor run model. Wine refrigerators with absorption cooling like the Electrolux ICON™ wine cellars present another alternative to compressor-based wine coolers.
Do You Need a Dual or Multi Temperature Zone Wine Cooler/Wine Refrigerator?
Dual temperature zone wine coolers have two separate compartments each with its own temperature controls to store red and white wines at the appropriate temperature within the same unit.
Some high-end wine refrigerators have 3 or more temperature zones, like the Liebherr WS 14300 Wine Cabinet. While having two independent temperature zones within the same wine cooler unit sounds good, you don’t necessarily need this feature that usually results in a higher price tag.
You might be better off investing in a well-engineered, larger capacity single zone wine cabinet with a fairly wide temperature range. You can still get a single- or 2-bottle chiller to quickly chill your favorite whites to their recommended serving temperature.
Benefits of Wine Coolers, Wine Refrigerators
- wine selection at hand – no need to run to buy a bottle of wine for your unexpected dinner guests -even with a smaller capacity wine cooler stocked fully you just pick a bottle suitable for the occasion
- part of the home decor – today wine coolers, wine refrigerators come in several design and color options ranging from “cold” stainless steel units exuding modern elegance to furniture like wine credenzas boasting refined appearance. No matter which a wine cooler will always enhance and compliment your home’s design
- wines kept at the right temperature – instead of being afraid that your wines in the rack on the kitchen counter will cook on a hot day they are stored in a cool, dark place. The wines’ taste, color and consistency will be preserved.
- curiosity of friends, family – whenever you have guest over they want to know why you have a wine cooler and they’ll feel cherished that you’ll serve them wine with at the perfect serving temperature. They’ll probably envy your cool appliance and will want one for themselves.
What Capacity/Size to Buy?
Always buy a larger capacity unit than you first think you need. Of course the available space in your home limits the size but you’ll be more satisfied in the long term if you go for a more capacious unit.
Once you have your wine cooler installed you won’t be able to resist the temptation to buy wine if you see a bottle you fancy. This way you’ll fill the wine cooler up in no time.
Power Consumption of Wine Refrigerators
Power consumption of wine coolers depends on the capacity and the cooling technology. Larger units consume more electricity though well-engineered units made by recognized brands like strive to manufacture wine storage units that cool efficiently with the lowest possible electricity requirement. For example the Liebherr WS 14300 is a 143-bottle compressor-operated wine refrigerator and consumes only 0.9 kWh/day.
EuroCave wine coolers are also relatively low-electricity consumption units (0.9-1.0 kWh/day).
What are The Most Eco-Friendly Wine Refrigerators/Wine Coolers?
As we stated above thermoelectric wine coolers pose less threat to the environment because they don’t contain coolants, organic chemicals that are responsible for the thinnig of the ozone layer protecting our planet from the harmful UV rays that need to be disposed of at the end of the appliances’ life cycle.
Liebherr wine refrigerators made by the Germany-based Liebherr Group are also an excellent choice if environmental friendliness is a major factor when buying an appliance. Liebherr wine coolers have low electricity consumption exceeding the new requirements for Energy Star rating. Read more why Liebherr wine refrigerators are environmentally friendly appliances.
EuroCave wine cellars are also green appliances meaning that they have less hazardous impact to the natural emvironment.Their compressor operates without cooling agent and they have relatively low energy consumption (0.9-1.0 kWh/24hours)
- Your wine cooler must be placed on an even floor that is capable of supporting the weight of the appliance when fully loaded (calculate with 3 lbs/bottle of wine).
- Always place the wine cooler in the coolest spot within your home away from direct sunlight and heat-generating appliances. Note however that most wine coolers are designed to be used in ambient temperatures between 50 – 80 °F (10 – 27 °C).
- At temperatures over 86 °F (30 °C) the wine cooler won’t be able to maintain the set temperature inside the unit. EuroCave wine coolers can withtstand temperatures from 0 up to 35 deg. Celsius (32 – 95 °F).
- Be sure to search for a wine refrigerator that fits in the space you plan to install it both physically and aesthetically.
- Make sure to check whether you have convenient access to AC power outlet, the wine cooler must be the only item plugged into an outlet, particularly avoid plugging another refrigerator into the same outlet.