“Wine coolers,” “wine refrigerators,” or “wine cellars”: the primary aim of these units is the same – to maintain wine within a fairly narrow range of temperatures for storage and/or service.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of hype surrounding these appliances and a constant stream of so-called “experts” who will insist that you need this or that, or else your wine will be reduced to vinegar in short order. The truth is, however, that wine storage is pretty simple and, apart from a few basic requirements, most consumer models are just fine for keeping age-worthy wine at optimum conditions, at least for around year or so.
Make sure to read our articles Wine Storage Factors, Simply Explained and our Wine Cooler Buying Guide for more information (including some popular myth-busting) on storing wine and what to look for in a cooler. And while you theoretically could store wine in these units for much longer (assuming they hold up, of course), if you’re keeping very expensive wine, or wine as an investment rather than for simple personal enjoyment, do yourself a favor and send your collection to a professional storage facility – you will sleep better knowing you did. Residential units are really intended to store wine for consumption, not speculation.
- 1 Choosing the Best Model for You – Basic Considerations
- 2 Best Value Recommendations
- 2.1 Haier HVTM08ABS 8-Bottle Single Zone Wine Cellar
- 2.2 HOMEIMAGE HA-HI-8C 8-Bottle Single Zone Wine Cooler
- 2.3 Haier HVTM12DABB 12-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cellar
- 2.4 Wine Enthusiast 18-Bottle Touchscreen Slimline Wine Refrigerator
- 2.5 Whynter BWR-18SD 18 Bottle Built-In Wine Refrigerator
- 2.6 HOMEIMAGE 21 Bottle Dual-zone Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
- 2.7 EdgeStar TWR215ESS1 Built-In 30 Bottle Wine Cooler
- 2.8 AKDY AZ-EA45EC-75 32-Bottle Wine Cooler
- 2.9 Kingsbottle KB-120-BP 120-Bottle Compressor Wine Cellar with Dual Zones
Choosing the Best Model for You – Basic Considerations
In case you haven’t read our wine storage and buying guide articles, here is a quick recap of our most important tips/considerations when shopping for a cost-effective and suitable option. Or if you’d prefer, you can skip all that and jump directly to some of our best-value recommended wine cooler reviews.
- Forget About Nomenclature, i.e., terms Like “Wine Cooler,” “Wine Cellar” or “Wine Fridge“ – These names all refer to basically the same thing, with manufacturers or sellers using them interchangeably depending on what sells better. Any temperature-controlled box or cabinet that can keep wines at around 55F is ideal for storage of both red and white wines, whatever it’s called. Concentrate on getting a quality unit rather than fixating on the label attached to the appliance.
- Don’t Confuse Storage With Service Temperatures – If you are storing wine – any kind of wine, including both reds and whites – the optimal temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This bears repeating – red and white wines should be stored together at 55F! Don’t make the common mistake of confusing storage temperatures (which don’t differ between reds and whites) with service temperatures (which do)! Yes, whites are typically served at slightly cooler temperatures, but this has nothing to do with storage.
- Purchase Sufficient Capacity – Err on the side of more capacity, i.e., getting something that can hold 50% more bottles of wine than you think you will store (or buy at one time if you are a bulk purchaser) to be on the safe side. Once you get a wine cooler, you will probably become more passionate about wine, buy more wine, and thus need more space. Also remember that reported bottle capacities are based on standard 750 ml. Bordeaux type bottles, which are long and slender. If you are planning on storing Magnums, Champagne, and other larger/odd-shaped bottles, assume you will only have 50% to 75% of the stated capacity, since you will probably need to remove some shelving to fit them.
- Dual Zones Wine Coolers are Convenient, But Not Necessary – A single zone cooler can store both red and white wines, because both types are best kept at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit for storage purposes. You can always chill a white just before service using a conventional refrigerator. On the other hand, if you want to be able to serve your whites directly from your wine cooler, a dual zone model is a good choice as you can keep one compartment dedicated to chilling them.
- Buy a Compressor-Driven Unit for Hot Climates/Fluctuating Temperatures – Despite what you may have heard, Vapor Pressure Refrigeration (i.e., compressor) systems are still the most efficient and are by far the better choice for maintaining temperature stability in hotter climates or those that experience significant daily/seasonal temperature swings. And remember that maintaining temperature stability around the storage set point is very important. If the room where you intend to locate your cooler routinely experiences temperatures above 85F, pass on a thermoelectric since it will likely struggle to maintain the set point in warmer weather.
- Thermoelectric Units Tend to be Much Cheaper – If the cooler will be located in a room that is sheltered from heat, a thermoelectric model can be a great buy, since it will generally be less expensive than a similarly-rated compressor-driven cooler. Thermoelectric units are also much lighter and are therefore more common in smaller, counter top and portable coolers.
- Built In Wine Coolers Are Good for Tight, Under Counter Applications – These are designed to be flush with other appliances and rear walls, and use front-ventilation; for example, many are designed to fit in the same space occupied by trash compactors. However, many can also be used as free-standing units as well, but confirm this beforehand.
- Free-Standing Wine Fridges/Coolers Must be Given Room to Vent – These units typically use rear ventilation and can be located pretty much anywhere, but must be given a gap of at least a few inches between any rear wall to avoid overheating and/or failure.
- Don’t Store Wine in a Typical Household Refrigerator – Just in case you’re thinking about it! While this is OK for a couple weeks or so, over time, the low humidity in food refrigerators can and will dry out corks, promoting cork shrinkage and thereby allowing oxygen to enter the bottle and hasten oxidation or outright spoil your wine. In addition, temperatures in an ordinary fridge are generally too low to permit maturation, and they cycle too much. Remember that temperature stability somewhere around 55F is more important than attaining any exact storage temperature.
- Don’t Obsess! – Everything beyond the wine cooler’s bottle capacity and its ability to maintain a set temperature/run reliably is secondary. Don’t be distracted by bells & whistles, or lured merely by high-priced, highly promoted name brands.
Here is our roundup of some of the highest value and best wine coolers you can get for your money, ordered from smallest to largest capacity. Not only do each of these models come at the right price, but each one of these coolers presently has a minimum user satisfaction rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 on Amazon.com. Click on the button to read the full reviews.
Amazon User Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 The Haier HVTM08ABS 8-Bottle Wine Cellar is a very popular free-standing, thermoelectric model that performs very well and runs quietly. It also comes with most of the typical modern features we look for, such as a double paned glass door, removal wire racks, LCD display, digital controls, and an LED interior light.
More importantly, it’s generally on sale for under $100, making it one of the best value wine coolers we’ve reviewed. It’s no wonder why this model usually tops both the best-selling and top-rated lists on amazon.com.
Amazon User Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 This is another excellent, small and inexpensive counter top thermoelectric wine fridge with an 8-bottle capacity that is selling for less than $100. The single zone of this model has a great working temperature range of between 44 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The overall design of this cooler is particularly sleek and modern, and features a crisp LED temperature display, recessed door handle, and easy touch pad controls. The cooler is well insulated and protected from UV thanks to a dual pane glass door, and the cool, blue interior LED fixture shows off your collection nicely. It comes with three wire shelves.
Amazon User Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 Currently available for under $150, this has got to be the one of the most inexpensive dual zone thermoelectric wine coolers you can get, which is really saying something when you consider that HVTM12DABB can hold up to 12 Bordeaux-type bottles. This wine fridge has two temperature zones, each with its own temperature adjustment control and temperature LCD display. The upper zone has a working range of between 45-54 degrees Fahrenheit, while the lower zone can operate between 52-64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like the 8-bottle model above, this wine cooler is inexpensive but remarkably well made for the price. Among other things, it features a double-walled, tinted glass door for UV protection and insulation, removable wire racks, modern touch controls and very attractive styling.
For a similarly-priced option in a single zone cooler, check out the Spt WC-1272H Thermo-Electric 12-Bottle Wine Cooler with Heating.
This dual zone thermoelectric model can hold 18 standard wine bottles. The upper zone is able to reach temperatures between 54 and 66F; the lower zone can operate between 46 and 66F.
With a sophisticated look, attractive digital controls, and a very slim design, this is a popular model. But it’s features are not just skin deep. It has a durable and well-insulated it Thermopane, “smoked” glass door rimmed with stainless steel. Wine is neatly stored on seven chrome (removable) shelves.
This is definitely one of the slimmest coolers of its capacity, at only 9-7/8 inches in width, so if space is at a premium, this is a great option. It is currently available for a sales price of around $250, which is an excellent deal for a fridge of this quality in our book.
The Whynter BWR-18SD is designed as a built-in model but can also be used as a free-standing cooler. This is currently our favorite small compressor-driven model. And because it uses a compressor, you can rest assured that this fridge will easily keep your collection cool and at stable temperatures despite heatwaves and generally warm conditions.
Although it’s marketed as an 18-bottle cooler, it can in fact hold a total of 19 standard Bordeaux style bottles. It can maintain temperatures anywhere from 40ºF – 65 (ºF).
Besides having a lot of cooling power, this is a very solid and attractive wine cellar that features an LCD display, modern controls, double pane glass, steel/wood racks, and lots of stainless steel throughout. It also comes with an air filtration system and humidity tray.
This model has two storage compartments; the upper zone can be operated between 44 and 64F; and the lower can be used between 52 and 64F. It comes with the key features we like to see, such as steel trim, double pane glass, LED interior lighting; however, it also boasts very classy removable wooden shelving. A nice touch and one not often seen in value-oriented wine cellars.
Amazon User Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 The EdgeStar CWR301SZ uses a powerful compressor-driven cooling system, which allows it to maintain your collection anywhere between 40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit despite, hot and fluctuating conditions.
This is solid single zone wine cooler, that doesn’t cut corners on basic design materials, such double pane tempered glass, stainless steel door framing, and wooden racks. It also comes with an air filtration system and a lock to protect your wine against tampering and theft. An excellent choice for those seeking a workhorse under counter unit.
This free standing thermoelectric cooler is a good example – it’s attractive, runs quietly, and provides a lot of capacity for it’s modest selling price. It also possesses all of the basic features you can ask for, including digital thermostat controls, chrome shelving, LCD display, a tempered glass door, and an attractive LED interior light. What else can you ask for in a 32-bottle wine cooler selling for roughly $300?
A very smart choice in our book.
This is a large, 120-bottle dual zone wine cellar powered by a compressor.
At the moment, it is undoubtedly one of the most affordable dual zone coolers of its size. The upper compartment of this cooler can work between 41-60 degrees Fahrenheit; while the lower compartment is rated to operate between 45-64 degrees Fahrenheit. Notably, the compressor in this unit generates a mere 52 dB of noise. This cabinet also comes with top of the line controls, double pane glass, and internal fans to avoid cold/hot spots in among the bottles.
A very nice choice for the more serious wine drinker.