This guide on the best wine fridges aims to walk you through the ins and outs of what goes into buying a good white wine cooler; from the many factors that inform a wise buying decision, down to some great recommendations that factor all these things into account. All of these wine fridge reviews are free standing wine coolers.
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The debate about storing wine in a regular refrigerator has been raging for a while now, and chances are you have come across the conflicting statements.
There is one school of thought that says stashing a wine bottle in the fridge (opened or not) is a sensible idea. Another argues it is downright immoral to sentence your wines to such cold treatment (no pun intended).
Like that ketchup in the fridge debate, it just never goes away.
Whichever side of the divide your loyalties lie though, it is worth noting that wine bottles are labeled ‘Store in a Cool Dry Place’ – as opposed to ‘Keep Refrigerated’. This, of course, is open to different interpretations depending on whom you ask. But no matter how logical storing wine in the refrigerator may seem, the truth of the matter is that it is not okay to store wine in your kitchen refrigerator.
And here’s why…
Debunking the Wine Refrigeration Myth
One of the reasons you should not store wine in your household refrigerator has to do with something called humidity.
Standard refrigerators are designed to suck the humidity from the air circulating in your fridge. By contrast, wine fridges, also known as wine chillers or wine coolers, are designed in such a way as to maintain humidity inside the unit. The whole idea behind the latter is to have the humidity keep the corks wet which slows down the aging process. Ideal levels of humidity for storing wine fall between 70 and 90%.
And this is something even bar fridges cannot do because they are just a variation of a regular refrigerator.
There is also the issue of temperature.
Optimum temperature for storing wine hovers at between 7° Celsius (45° F) and 16° Celsius (60° F), depending on whether you are storing reds or whites. 13° Celsius (55° Fahrenheit) is often labeled close to perfect. Wine fridges are specially programmed to consistently maintain this temperature range, which ensures the wine not only ages properly, but also maintains an optimal flavor throughout. Here are some of the optimal sorting temperatures for whites according to Decanter.
Did you know that vibration effects like that from your household refrigerator can degrade the taste of your wine? True story. The vibration inhibits the naturally occurring sediment necessary for wine to age flawlessly, and this is something wine fridges are built to prevent.
And, of course, there is the obvious reason that wine fridges are specifically built to hold wine bottles, including dedicated, scalloped wine racks. Plus, wine fridges are not opened as regularly as a household refrigerator, which means your cherished sauvignon blanc or cabernet sauvignon will be preserved at the most ideal levels.
Hope that settles it.
How to Buy a Wine Fridge
Now that you know the significance of investing in a wine cooler, let us walk you through the process of choosing a decent unit to store your wines with regard to what you need to look for.
There is a lot that constitutes a ‘good’ wine fridge, so popping in at your local supermarket and buying a random cooler without some forethought as regards the nitty-gritty is a decision you may end up ruing.
It is understandable if you are not sure where to start. There are so many wine fridges with regard to type and brand that it can get confusing. However, your decision should be informed by the following factors:
Features & Quality
Before buying a wine fridge, be sure about the features you would like to have, from temperature control to the amount of bottles it can hold.
The first thing you need to look at is the rack construction. They need to be sturdy (but lightweight), and ideally, the shelves and gliders should withstand a substantial amount of weight – think upwards of 15kg (35 pounds) each.
There are coolers that come with a preset temperature, and given all wines are not equal, this would not be an ideal investment for the long-term. Scratch that, in this day and age, a fridge should not be preset. Period.
Other advanced features to keep an eye out for include UV-protected glass, pull-out shelving that can also suit different-sized wine bottles, and you can also throw setting controls in there.
Most wine fridge models have metal shelving, which is fine. But it is harder to pull out bottles from these, not to mention this type can subject the bottles or labels to scratches, especially with the cheaper models. Wooden shelving is the premium, in every sense of the word. It has good sliding mechanisms, for the most part. But given this type of shelving is thicker, it compromises on the overall storage space.
Many coolers these days come equipped with digital temperature control panels. A few others also include an alarm system that sounds off whenever there is an issue with, say, the door, or temperature, or humidity level.
Built-in vs. Freestanding
Wine fridges come in all sizes, and what may be ideal for Fred may not be the right size for Ethel and Jake. For several reasons.
Often though, freestanding units are ideal for anyone with swaths of space, and they have the wealthiest of options with regard to sizes – from minute portable models that can easily be placed on a countertop, to larger models capable of holding hundreds of bottles at a time.
Built-in models are under-counter types that can be fit into your cupboard, which helps save space while blending in with the existing décor.
A large majority of freestanding coolers vent from the back while built-in units vent from the front. For this reason, if you are looking to buy such a freestanding unit, make sure it will be able to stand in a place where the vent will not be too close to the wall; it should have some room to breathe.
As far as the size itself goes, there are two factors to this equation. The first we have already touched on, albeit briefly: to determine the right size, first look at the amount of space you have available.
The second factor has to do with the number of bottles you envision storing over time. Consider your drinking/buying/collecting habits and try to approximate how many bottles you will need. It is a good idea to go a little bigger instead of investing in a cooler, only for it to fall short later in terms of storage capacity.
And while we are still speaking size…
If you have noticed, your wine collection has bottles that differ in both size and shape. Many wine fridges have been designed to fit standard 750 ml bottles, so you want to make sure your choice of refrigerator has adjustable shelves that can be adapted to make room for wide bottles.
It would be such a bummer to come home with a wide-diameter bottle only to find your beloved wine cooler cannot accommodate it. And even when it can, it forces you to remove shelves, severely reducing the cooler’s storage capacity.
The best wine fridges should accommodate large-format bottles such as champagnes, Imperials and Magnums. That way, you will never have to worry about whether or not your Burgundy or Pinot Noir will fit.
Aesthetics & Utility
Spoiler alert – Wine fridges more or less look like regular refrigerators!
Seriously though, a wine refrigerator is an appliance you will be seeing a lot of, so making sure you choose one that looks great in your eyes is part of the whole buying equation. There are a plethora of options to choose from, including wine fridges that match your home décor – or if you prefer, you can go all the way and have it custom-designed by the likes of Le Cache or Vinotheque who specialise in the high end side of things.
Door design is something else to consider. Choose between tempered glass doors that allow you to show off your collection, or opt for a wood finish or solid stainless steel design. All three door types guarantee total protection, including against UV rays.
With regard to utility, you may want to take the door swing into consideration. Depending on where you plan to keep your wine chiller, it may be important that the door swings open either to the right or left. This helps avoid obstructions that might get in the way of the door opening fully.
There are other models with reversible doors which allow you to open the door whichever way, thus making it possible to place your wine cooler in whichever location you fancy.
You will also come across refrigerators fitted with LED lighting. This should not be a big concern regarding whether it is good for the wine. Usually, this lighting won’t raise temperatures significantly, so consider it VSFW (very safe for wine). The purpose, other than making it easier to read your bottle labels, is to provide an elegant showcase of your collection. Think about it…
Single Zone vs. Dual Zone
A single zone wine fridge allows you to set a single temperature throughout the unit. Higher quality wine coolers, on the other hand, have a dual zone feature which allows for two distinct temperature zones.
If you love both whites and red wine, this is a biggie. Simply because it provides for a happily-ever-after scenario where your favorite chardonnay and merlot can live harmoniously in the same unit.
As well, this can be handy in the sense that you can always have a few bottles of each ready to serve at the most ideal temperature.
Thermoelectric vs. Compressor
Wine fridges are either thermoelectric or compressor-based.
Thermoelectric wine fridges tend to be smaller and quieter than their compression-based counterparts. This type of fridge cools by pushing an electric current through a ceramic tile, then spreading that cool air inside the unit aided by the fan.
Compressor-based refrigerators, on the other hand, work like a regular fridge – yes, including the vibration.
A compressor-based refrigerator has more power and this is why you will often find larger models incorporating this mechanism. What this means for you, as an oenophile, is that if you envision storing lots of wine, or if the storage room is exposed to warmer temperatures, this may be the most ideal choice of wine cooler.
Thermoelectric coolers are more eco-friendly if you are in the market for an appliance that is energy-efficient. This means they are good for both the environment AND your pockets. The initial outlay is higher than most compressor models though, but if you are looking for a fridge that provides consistent and controlled temperatures, this is the buy.
Technically, thermoelectric models are supposed to be vibration-free. But let it come as no surprise if you detect a small amount of vibration. That’s just because of the fan.
Wine fridges differ drastically in terms of price, with some fetching at less than the price of a good case of wine, while others play in the range of a couple thousand quid.
Ultimately, the cost boils down to inclusion or omission of every other factor we have talked about here. And more. In other words, the more special the features, and the larger the capacity, the more you should expect to pay.
As well, just as with every other item, electronic or not, the brand too has a huge bearing on how much you end up shelling out – for obvious reasons.
Look around for what catches your eye. Factor in the features you desire in your ideal wine fridge. Then work out a budget. Don’t forget to factor in the shipping costs, depending on where you are buying your cooler from. Often times, some retailers – a good number of whom are selling on platforms like Amazon – will offer free shipping based on specific models or during a particular season.
At the end of the day, the ultimate price you end up paying, literally speaking, will hinge on everything from the brand, down to the shipping cost.
The Best Wine Fridges 2019
If you are considering a wine refrigeration unit, we have narrowed down some great options for you.
Here is our list of best wine fridges, complete with each unit’s review.
First up on our list of best wine fridges is this little wonder from Inventor.
Inventor has carved out a name for itself as a great builder of mini wine fridges that often find a home in all sorts of places, be it family homes, offices, small student apartments or hotel rooms. One such model is the Inventor A++ Mini Fridge 45L Small, a little bundle that is sure to fit into any room.
As if the miniscule size that enables it to fit in all room sizes is not enough, this Inventor also comes with a reversible door which gives you the option to open from left or right. These two features alone make it hard to beat as a prime contender for best wine fridges for cramped spaces.
Couple these with adjustable legs and what you have is one of the most versatile wine fridges money can buy you.
As far as capacity goes, the mini Inventor doesn’t pretend to be something else. It is specially designed to hold a small number of bottles, with 1 adjustable wire shelf and 2 door baskets; just enough to fit a handful of bottles.
It has an adjustable thermostat, but the unit cools as one, with a temperature range more akin to a regular refrigerator’s (16° to 38°C) than a wine fridge’s. It emits low noise levels of 42dB, and its A++ energy rating means it is capable of achieving incredible energy savings of up to 40% juxtaposed with appliances in energy class A.
The little Inventor is available in black and silver only. If you fancy a red or white shade, perhaps you might consider opting for the Russell Hobbs RHTTLF1R 45L instead, which is basically a replica version of the Inventor.
- Reversible door
- Energy efficiency
- 2-year warranty
- Limited capacity
- Bland look
The best small wine fridge on the market
Wine refrigerators may come across as space-hogging luxuries, but compact units like this Russell Hobbs model go to show that you don’t really need lots of room to store your wines at the ideal temperature.
The Russell Hobbs RH8WC1 is capable of holding up to eight bottles, making it the perfect mini wine fridge. While this is not a space many wine connoisseurs would shout about, it provides enough room for singles or couples staying in a smaller spaces such as a small apartment.
This model has two contoured wire shelves which prevent the bottles from rolling around. They are also removable so you can store canned drinks or beer bottles in an upright position if you wish instead, although the wine only fits horizontally; just as it should.
This chiller has a glass door which allows you to have a peek at the bottles inside without the need to open the door, aided by the presence of an internal LED light which looks great at night. The door opens from left to right, with a long handle that sweeps across the refrigerator’s front where you will also the digital light button and temperature controls located.
The model guarantees a cooling range of 8-18° Celsius, which is enough to cool both your white bottles and red bottles. The fact that it is compressor-based means there is some vibration, and reviewers say the fridge can get a bit loud because of the fan. A few also point out that it doesn’t maintain a high degree of cooling, especially in scorching weather.
In other words, if you are particular about chilled wine, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
Overall, this Russell Hobbs boasts a very unique and stylish design, and it makes for a great energy saver.
It comes with a two-year warranty.
- Unique and stylish design
- Eats little space
- Solid brand in Russell Hobbs
- Eco-friendly unit
- 2-year warranty
- Bit noisy
- Doesn’t guarantee sufficient cooling in hot weather
The Inventor Vino Class A 66L is a wine fridge best suited for anyone happy to have a little over 20 bottles of wine at any given time.
Boasting 4 shelves, each rack can hold up to 5 standard-sized bottles with ease. But you need not worry about where to stash your large-format bottles because the bottom features a basket that can store not just large bottles, but cans as well.
The Vino Wine Cooler is what you would call practical: it may not come with all the bells and whistles to enamour the wine lover in you, but it gets the job done, no questions asked. Its miniature size (it measures 64.2 x 48.0 x 44.0 cm (H x W x D)) also means you can place it conveniently in any room without it getting in your way.
The cooler features a contemporary design with UV glass door that protects your cherished boys from solar radiation. It has no internal thermostat, with the digital temperature control that allows you to set a temperature range of between 5°C to 18°C located on the outside.
Other notables include switchable blue LED interior light and a low noise functionality of 42dB (just like the Inventor A++ 45L), making it the perfect cooler for the bedroom; at least for those who sleep deeply. Its stylish design also ensures the Vino would never be a blot on your bedroom’s landscape, and it is also a great addition even to the kitchen countertop.
It would be remiss to talk about the Inventor Vino Class A 66L cooler and fail to mention its annual energy consumption of 138 kilowatt hours, which is nothing short of admirable. It’s a major selling point this, including for those who may be facing stiff opposition from the missus to add another refrigerator to the annual household energy bill. Just for wines.
And as testament to its quality build, it comes backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty.
One notable downside with this wine fridge is the lack of dual zone cooling compartments, meaning you have to preserve both your reds and whites at the same temperature.
- Good capacity
- Ideal size to fit in any room
- Sleek black design
- Two-year warranty
- Lack of dual zone cooling compartments
Next up on our list of best wine fridges is the Kalamera 18-bottle cooler. If you are looking for a cooler that can accommodate more than just a few bottles of wine, you will rarely find more candidates that fit the bill.
It may not be the biggest cooler, but this Kalamera is not the smallest either. It can accommodate 18 standard wine bottles, with 5 metal racks that are also removable for those times when you need to fit in larger bottles.
It has digital touch controls that allow you to specify the perfect temperature for your wine, ranging from 10 to 18 degrees Celsius. This fridge is thermoelectric, and its 38dB noise level ensures quiet operation while providing an ideal ground for your wine to sit and sediment perfectly. This results in impeccably preserved wine, upholding the flavor even when left to age for long periods.
The Kalamera KR-18AJPE comes in black, with a curved double-pane glass door that helps maintain superior interior temperature throughout. The LED lighting keeps your collection illuminated, making for an appealing spectacle.
What’s more, this freestanding cooler is lightweight at 14kg, a factor that makes it easy to move around. But it’s not like this would be necessary all the time. Generally though, its small size means it can fit well in different places.
While this wine fridge has no double cooling compartments, there is a reason it remains a best seller among both residential and commercial clientele. If you are looking for a great performing wine cooler with just about enough capacity and a price tag that won’t make you baulk, the Kalamera KR-18AJPE is a winner.
- Reasonable capacity
- Whisper quiet noise level
- Overall great design
- Good value
- Single zone
Best Slimline fridge with a width of 29.5 cms
A quick look through most online reviews and it is difficult to come across someone faulting this wine chiller. The 19-bottle cabinet is a great addition to any home and its freestanding design means it efficiently makes use of even limited spaces. It can also be built in, offering great versatility in the way you utilize it within your space.
This slimline wine fridge has 6 shelves (wooden), each of which can hold three standard-sized bottles (or two champagne bottles). And you can always figure out a way to fit an extra bottle into the larger bottom shelf to bring it to up to the advertised capacity of 19.
Being a class B cooling unit, energy efficiency is not a major selling point for the Hostess HW19MA. But it makes up for it by guaranteeing your wines are kept at optimum temperatures throughout, chilling down to 5° Celsius, with an upper range of 18°C.
The digital temperature display means you will always be able to tell the exact temperature inside the chiller. There are no disparities between the displayed and actual temperatures as you are likely to get with some units.
Despite being a compressor-based wine refrigerator, this Hostess offering barely makes noise. Considering the size, this is not just amazing by itself, but it is a point reinforced by the fact that the likes of Inventor A++ Mini Wine Fridge 45L, a much smaller unit, can barely measure up to the Hostess in terms of noise levels.
It comes with a double-glazed door with tinted glass, and the fact that it is reversible means it can fit into almost any space without much interference. The Hostess HW19MA seems to have it all. Perhaps the only downside to it is the lack of dual zone cooling, but it’s a sacrifice many are happy to make. And obviously, there is the lack of multiple color options.
Overall, it is a great looking piece inside and out, elegant actually, a look capped off by the blue LED light beaming from the inside. If you are looking for an even slimmer fridge with 29.5 cm being too wide, the only alternative is the Husky HN6 Slimline fridge at 25cm wide.
- Top-notch overall build
- Excellent cooling
- Low noise levels for its size
- Great versatility
- Wooden shelves
- Lack of dual zone
- Limited color range
They say do not judge a book by its cover, but one quick look at the Kalamera KR-21A3JPE Streamline Dual Zone and it’s easy to deduce this cooler is no slouch. But here is why it warrants an inclusion in our list of best wine fridges.
This is a feature-packed, 21-bottle wine fridge that is not just a looker, but a sophisticated unit that weaves style and function in perfect harmony. It features dual zone compartments, each with its own digital thermostat, which allow for storage of both whites and reds at their respective ideal temperatures.
The upper compartment can hold 6 standard white bottles, perfectly chilling at an ideal 7° to 18°C. The lower can accommodate 15 bottles of red wine, keeping them a little warmer at 10° to 18°C. And because this model is thermoelectric, the anti-vibration technology keeps noise to a bare minimum which means neither you, nor your wine will be disturbed.
The twin cooling systems aside, other features of this freestanding Kalamera include seven removable wooden shelves and two blue LED actual temperature displays, each for the respective zone. There is also a switchable interior blue LED lighting that makes it possible to view your chilled drinks without the need to open the glass door.
The glass door itself is UV resistant in case the fridge has to be placed in a spot where there is direct sunlight. Owners appreciate the stylish stainless steel look and overall sexy design that immediately catches the eye. What they also laud it for is its ability to maintain ideal temperatures in both compartments, not to mention its overall practicality.
The general consensus is that for the money, albeit steeper than others on this list, this Kalamera is an absolute steal.
- Impeccable design
- Dual zone that actually works great
- Thermoelectric, making it both energy-efficient and quiet
- There is little not to like about this Kalamera, save for maybe the 21-bottle storage capacity
If a cooler that holds less than 20 bottles is a little too small for you, perhaps it’s time to bump up your capacity with this 28-bottle holder. You don’t have to worry about space as it takes up very little of it, thanks to its narrow footprint.
The Polar Wine 28-bottle Wine Chiller has found traction not just with individual wine lovers, but also among busy catering establishments. Its tall design incorporates 6 scalloped shelves, each of which can comfortably accommodate 4 standard-sized bottles. There is also a lower compartment which provides ample storage space for your Magnums and other larger bottles.
This cooler boasts sleek design elements which make it a great appliance to display irrespective of the environment. The cabinet is a black-painted steel design, with a double-glazed door that offers a dark, intimate glimpse into the contents inside. This look is accentuated by the internal LED lighting which makes for great presentation of the almost 30 bottles.
As well, the door is reversible, allowing you to open from either side which makes this refrigerator a good fit in many settings. Its adjustable feet also mean that installation is never a challenge in most premises.
The ample room guaranteed by the Polar Wine 28-bottle is something many wine lovers will appreciate, no doubt. But for all that capacity, it clearly falls short in the dual zone feature aspect which would have been a welcome addition, albeit at a heftier price.
If two temperature zones are important to you, then perhaps you might find solace in the likes of the Husky HN7 Reflections Dual Zone Wine Cooler, although that will mean sacrificing four bottles.
By and large though, the Polar Wine Chiller is impressive in terms of performance, and most users who have bought it do agree it is money well spent.
- Storage capacity
- Actual cooler size
- Reversible doors
- Attractive design elements
- Lack of dual cooling compartments
Once you have a few wine bottles in your possession, you need to stash them away the right way. Few are fortunate enough to own a wine cellar, but majority of wine lovers soon find themselves running out of the nooks and crannies to keep their bottles in.
The next best available option to preserve our wine at an average 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and ideal humidity level is to invest in a wine cooler. Not a regular refrigerator, but a dedicated wine cooler.
Know your needs, space, and budget…the rest will fall into place by itself. Provided, of course, you can tell between a good wine fridge from a run-of-the-mine model. But it is our sincere hope that this guide, along with the recommendations herein, are sufficient enough to walk you down the path of enlightenment.
The best wine fridges will rev up both your storage and drinking experiences.