Even if you aren’t a budding wine hobbyist, a seasoned connoisseur, or a matured Bacchanalian, there’s a lot to be said for owning a wine refrigerator. If there’s truth in wine, it must be said that any wine can be adversely affected by storage and temperature. For many reasons, a food refrigerator isn’t the ideal place for a good bottle of wine. And you don’t need a large or fancy built-in wine refrigerator. The best wine refrigerator could even just be a simple one on your kitchen countertop.
The Best Temperature to Store Wine
Most wines should be kept at a temperature of between 45°and 65℉, with 55℉ as the ideal average. Rapid, or even seasonal fluctuations in temperature, have an adverse effect on wine quality. And temperatures over 68℉ will accelerate aging and decomposition.
On the other hand, anything below 45℉ and the natural aging process will be interrupted, especially for red wines. If you intend for your refrigerated wines to be drunk within a year, then lower temperatures are fine. Otherwise, the upper end of the spectrum is better.
The Best Temperature to Drink Wine
- White and sweet wines at 42° to 46℉ to avoid an overpowering sweetness.
Most popular wine refrigerators will have a low temperature of at least 46℉. Therefore, sparkling wines or young crips whites would need to be chilled a little more in a food refrigerator or ice bucket before serving.
- Light bodied reds at around 58° to 62℉ for that perfect flare.
It’s best to set your wine cooler temperature somewhat below your preferred drinking temperature. This way you can allow the wines to sit and breath for a while as the temperature drops. Most wines need to aerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Bold reds and older wines at about 65° to 68℉ to minimize tannin tastes.
Strong tannins or young reds may need to breath for an hour or more. Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais and cheap wines can be drunk straight away, so they can be kept at higher temperatures.
Best Way to Store Wine Is a Wine Refrigerator
Unstable or high temperatures, UV light, movement and low humidity and four things that can adversely affect the quality and longevity of your wine.
A basement or cellar may be the ideal long term storage solution, but if you don’t have these what do you do? Food refrigerators with an average temperature of 45℉ together with frequent door movement, low humidity and bright lighting, aren’t suitable for wine storage. This is where a wine refrigerator, regardless of size, comes in very handy:
- Ideal temperature
- Correct humidity levels
- Minimal light and movement
- Wines on hand ready to serve
- Enjoy the true value of your wine
A wine refrigerator is also ideal because you have your wines on hand, ready to drink at any time. For the most part, an opened bottle just needs to aerate for a while and stabilize to the ideal temperature.
Low humidity or dry climates can cause the cork to dry out and unwanted oxygen to seep in. This is why corked wine needs to be laid on its side to keep the cork moist. Also, many people like to use a simple wine vacuum stopper to recork their unfishined bottles.
How to Choose the Best Wine Refrigerator
The first step to choosing the best wine refrigerator, is to know how many bottles you need to store for the space you have.
General capacity is measured to a standard high shoulder Bordeaux 750 mL wine bottle. Bulging bases of sparkling wines may not fit without removing a shelf. Also, storing chardonnay and Burgundy bottles will also reduce the stated bottle volume.
What Is The Best Capacity Wine Refrigerator?
An 8 bottle countertop cooler is the best choice if you just need something basic. Most people find six to be a little limiting.
For those who don’t have a lot of space, or just like to have a decent selection of wine on hand, coolers that hold 12 to 24 bottles will suffice.
If you’re the type that likes to spend a little time picking up great wines and storing them for the longer term, consider something that holds 24 bottles or more.
For the true connoisseur, the entertainer, the bulk buyer and those who just drink a lot, have a look at the best wine coolers that hold at least 40 bottles.
Is the Best Wine Refrigerator a Single or Dual Zone Cooler?
- A single zone wine refrigerator has one compartment where all the wine is stored at the same temperature.
These are cheaper and suited for either white or red wine if you want wines on hand at a convenient temperature, or if you want to store a select amount of wine for a longer period of time.
If you want to mix reds and whites in a single zone you can, and the best temperature for this is 55℉. This also means you have to rest your red wine for longer before serving, or put your white in the food refrigerator for a while after opening.
- A dual zone wine refrigerator has two units with independently controlled temperatures.
These are recommended if you want to conveniently store both reds and whites, and if you want whites and light bodied reds ready on hand to serve.
Dual zones are of course more pricey, and they may or may not be divided into two equal halves. The cooler, upper zone meant for whites is often smaller. The zones are not interchangeable because both have a fixed range of higher and lower temperatures.
What is The Best Temperature Range For a Wine Refrigerator?
Lower priced models will have a narrower temperature range, especially for the lower range. The average wine cooler is not designed to accommodate larger sparkling wines, therefore the lowest temperature is often only 45°or 46℉.
If you want champagne, rose, or young crisp white wines chilled on hand, it’s better to go with a compressor model rather than a thermoelectric cooler. These and more expensive but generally have a low temperature of 40°or 41℉.
For most wine refrigerators, the highest temperature range of almost all coolers is between 64°or 66℉. A few go as high as 68℉ which is the highest suggested serving temperature for bold reds, although keeping your reds at 65℉ is best.
With some dual zone refrigerators the highest range of the cooler upper zone is the same as the warmer lower zone which means that both zones can be used to store just red wines.
Is a Compressor or Thermoelectric Better?
A compressor mechanism operates the same way as a standard food refrigerator using chemical refrigerants. The vent is in the front at the bottom, so they don’t look as plush as thermoelectric coolers with a vent at the back. Because the vent is front loaded, they can safely be installed as under-the-counter or built-in units.
Compressors cool faster and are more aggressive with thermostat control. These are the better choice if you live in an area with intense summer heat, or if you wish to put your cooler in a place like a garage that experiences extremes of cold as well.
Thermoelectric mechanisms are quieter, slower at cooling, and you may have to wait overnight for a newly installed one to reach the set temperature. They use less electricity, but don’t perform with extremes of heat and cold. A thermoelectric cooler isn’t powerful enough to handle much more than 30 bottles.
Unfortunately thermoelectrics also tend to be less reliable so make sure you have a good purchase warranty with reliable customer service. These are the best choice for having the smaller cooler in a living room, studio apartment or an office.
How Big Is a Counter Top Cooler?
If you want to put the countertop beneath a cabinet overhang, always check the counter height carefully. Countertop coolers are often just less than 18 inches, which fits the usual height of the undercounter. Countertop wine coolers are basically all thermoelectric and store anything from 6 to around 18 bottles depending.
What’s The Difference Between Built-in and Under-the-Counter?
A true built-in wine refrigerator will need to fit perfectly into a cabinet space which may or may not be under-the-counter. Compared to simple under-the-counter models, they have a tighter fit and sometimes require custom cabinetry.
They are all necessarily compressor models with a front loaded vent. Most coolers marketed as built-in are also sold as freestanding. These are a convenient choice if you’re remodeling or prefer a more stylish kitchen.
Under-the-counter wine coolers also make for a neater looking kitchen, and general kitchen cabinetry dimensions would limit these two a depth around 25 inches and a height of 34 inches.
Many medium sized, freestanding coolers are also marketed as under-the-counter, although they may not have such a neat built-in look as the height can be considerably less than 34 inches.
How About Freestanding Wine Coolers?
Almost all popular wine refrigerators can essentially function as freestanding refrigerators— meaning you can place them wherever you want. Just make sure if you place a thermoelectric under a counter that you have enough free and open space for ventilation.
What Else Do I Need to Know About?
Wine coolers are quite basic appliances so when choosing the best wine refrigerator for your needs, there aren’t too many additional things to take into account.
Classic looking wine refrigerators with stainless steel exteriors and wooden shelves cost more. Thermoelectric models often have cheaper non stainless exteriors, sometimes also with cheaper metal shelves.
Adjustable shelves are nice especially if you need a little extra height for wines like chardonnay or Burgundy. Not a lot of coolers have adjustable rack slots, but at least check to see the cooler has removable shelves.
For the most part, medium-sized and larger wine coolers will have a blue LED light. Often there are two levels of lighting— bright for reading labels and soft ambient to show off your wines when you want to. Unfortunately LCD display lights for the temperature readings cannot be switched off, so this can be an irritation especially if you want to put the cooler in a room used for sleeping.
Finally, you may want a lock for your wine cooler. Higher grade models and built-in wine refrigerators will almost always have these, but for other grades of coolers always check.
Reviews of The Best Wine Refrigerators in 2021
Our picks for the best wine refrigerators in 2021 have been carefully selected and vetted for their quality and top consumer ratings.
- NutriChef 18 Bottle Dual Zone Thermoelectric – Best to Buy
- Aobosi 30 Bottle 15 inch – Best Under-the-Counter Wine Refrigerator
- Ivation 24 Bottle Thermoelectric – Best Freestanding Dual Zone Refrigerator
- Ivation Premium 8 Bottle Thermoelectric – Best Small Wine Refrigerator
- Kalamera 46 Bottle 24 Inch Dual Zone – Best Built-in Wine Refrigerator
- Kuppet 36 Bottle Freestanding Refrigerator – Best Single Zone Compressor
- New Air 116 Bottle Dual Zone – Best Large Wine Refrigerator
Here are our picks for the best wine refrigerators in 2021
1. NutriChef 18 Bottle Dual Zone Thermoelectric– Best to Buy in 2021
For the average wine connoisseur, this Nutrichef is a well rounded deal. It’s a quiet thermoelectric dual zone so it’s conveniently suited for both red and whites wines. There’s also additional side space for standing bottles, and its stylish modern look sits well in any freestanding location.
- Dual zone
- Quiet thermoelectric
- Dual temperature display
- Standing and tall bottles
- Convenient size
- Controls on the front
- Doesn’t fit wide bottles
- No door lock
When people become interested in wine enough to invest in a wine cooler, the tendency is often to look for the best of the most basic. But the natural tendency is for our interests to develop and expand. So when choosing the best wine refrigerator, look for something that will satisfy you not just for the now, but also for the longer term.
Although single zone wine coolers are more affordable, they are often a better choice for those who prefer either white wine or red, or who need ideal storage for a valued selection of wines. For the average appreciator of wine, a dual zone is a more convenient choice and can accommodate changing needs or preferences into the longer term.
Eighteen bottles is also the perfect amount for adequate short term wine storage and gives you enough choice for any occasion. What to do with opened wines? This is also taken care of in this Nutrichef with space for four standing bottles, but unfortunately champagne and other wide bottles don’t fit.
The temperature range of this Nutrichef is standard for the price point. The upper zone gets to a low of 46℉, so sweeter and younger white wines may need to chill a little more before serving. This cooler also has a zone overlap because both zones go up to 64℉, so in effect this cooler can function as a single zone refrigerator for just red wines .
- Dual zone thermoelectric
- Upper zone: 6 bottles, 46 ‒ 64℉
- Lower zone: 12 bottle, 54 ‒ 64℉
- Standing bottles: Lower zone 4 standard sized
- Separate temperature display for each unit
- Inset door handles
- Airtight reinforced glass door
- Internal LED light
- 20H x 13.6W x 25.4D inches
- Energy guide: $9.80 / year
2. Aobosi 30 Bottle 15 inch – Best Under-the-Counter Wine Refrigerator
For the more serious wine enthusiast, 15 inch models are a very popular choice. This dual zone Aobosi stores up to 30 bottles, and with it’s adjustable feet and good looks, it can also be placed anywhere as a freestanding wine cooler.
- Solid, robust design
- Dual zone
- Under-the-counter, built-in, freestanding
- Shelves resist moisture and odors
- Extra storage in colder upper zone
- Adjustable feet
- Charcoal air filter
- Door lock
- Reverse bottle placing required
- LCD light always on
Larger wine refrigerators come at a premium, so you have to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Apart from good reviews on performance and the robustness of its design, there are other good points to this wine cooler.
One of the nicest things is that the upper cooler (41‒55.4℉) is almost as spacious as the lower unit, meaning you get more storage for whites and sweeter wines compared to most other coolers. If you need space for wider bottles in the upper unit, you have to take out one of the shelves.
The sliding shelves are made of birch wood and are specially treated not to absorb moisture or odors. In addition, there is also a special charcoal filter to remove odors, a convenient door lock, and the compressor is pretty quiet too. On the downside, the LCD control light is quite bright and doesn’t go off.
3. Ivation 24 Bottle Thermoelectric – Best Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator
Ivation makes some of the best rated and best selling wine refrigerators. Their 24 bottle dual zone model is no exception and is unique for its plush, double doors.
- Twin door energy efficiency
- Removable shelves
- Classic and modern look
- Suitable for a countertop
- Good customer service
- Low temperature only 46℉
This Ivation is a good choice for people with a modest selection of wine. The top compartment can take eight Bordeaux size bottles and the bottom twice that number. The upper unit runs from 46° to 64℉ and the bottom from 54° to 64℉, so technically the entire refrigerator can be used for just red wines or long term storage of any wine, which is a nice added bonus if you need it.
You can choose between the more affordable, modern looking model in black with pocket handles, or you can go with the stylish stainless steel with wooden shelves. There’s quite a price difference between the two, but other than that they’re the same.
Because it has a thermoelectriccooling system, this refrigerator should be placed in a stable indoor environment and not a garage. Thermoelectric units in general tend to have more manufacturing issues than compressor models, but people often go with Ivation because their customer service is good and responsive.
4. Ivation Premium 8 Bottle Wine Cooler – Best Small Wine Refrigerator
For just a minimum of good wine on hand, or a safe place for your most prized wines, this stylish Ivation is not a bad deal. It has a super quiet thermoelectric motor, a well constructed exterior and high quality wooden shelves.
- Robust stainless steel
- Quiet thermoelectric motor
- High grade wooden shelves
- LCD light too bright
- Door not reversible
- Bottles don’t slide easily
Although there are small wine refrigerators which hold less than eight bottles, most people find that eight is the perfect medium for a compact size.
This mini wine cooler measures some 9.9 inches across, 19.7 inches deep, and 17.7 inches high which makes it quite eye catching, yet not obtrusive. If you’re living in an older home, there may not be 18 inches of clearance between the countertop and the cabinet overhang, so check your prefered space before you make your purchase.
On the downside, as with many such appliances, the LCD temperature display is way too bright which is not the ideal for studio apartments, dorm rooms or the like. The solution to this could be take cover the light with a fridge magent. People also find that the bottles are a tight fit and don’t slide out so easily.
As with other Ivation wine coolers, you have the choice between the black modern design with metal shelves, or the classic stainless steel with wooden shelves. The classic version is only a little more expensive in this case.
5. Kalamera 46 Bottle 24 Inch Dual Zone – Best Built-in Wine Refrigerator
When it comes to the best built in wine refrigerators, 24 inches is by far the most preferred size and they store close to 50 bottles. Kalamera makes quality wine coolers and this dual zone compressor has a low temperature of 40°F and a high of 66°F.
- Built-in or freestanding
- Upper unit low of 40°F
- Lower unit low of 50°F
- Reversible door
- Temperature memory
- Door lock
- Shelves ordinary
- Customer support satisfactory
As with many dual zone wine refrigerators, the cooler upper zone of this Kalamera is half the capacity of the warmer lower zone. The upper zone can be set from a low of 40° to a high of 50°F— which is what you should expect from this grade and price point. This means you can chill champagnes and other sweet wines to a more preferable temperature.
Although people are mostly quite happy with this cooler, some feel that for the price point the zones should be interchangeable. This is rare for a wine refrigerator and the upper colder zone anyway is more for the convenient placement of wines that can be drunk straight after opening.
A much appreciated extra feature is a temperature memory function. So if you live in an area prone to power cuts or weather disasters, your refrigerator will kick back in to your selected temperature even if you’re not around or on vacation.
Other than that, this 24 inch built-in wine cooler has all the other key features you’d expect such as a safety lock, separate controls and displays for both units, blue LED lighting and wooden shelves— but the quality of the shelves doesn’t quite match up to the price point. Customer support at Kalamera is satisfactory, but considering the class of wine cooler they make, it could be a better and more responsive.
6. Kuppet 36 Bottle Freestanding Refrigerator – Best Single Zone Compressor
Most medium sized, freestanding wine refrigerators tend to be thermoelectric models, but these are not always the best choice in terms of dependability and versatility. This Kuppet looks very much like a thermoelectric, has nice capacity, few frills and is excellent value for a single zone wine refrigerator.
- Adjustable rack slots
- Low temperature of37.4ºF
- Quiet for a compressor
- Can be in a basement or garage
- Temperature not uniform
- Highest temperature 50ºF
The design of this Kuppet is quite basic, but nevertheless it still looks nice. There’s nothing fancy about the wooden shelving either, but there are a couple of adjustable rack positions which adds a lot of versatility to the space.
The temperature range is quite different from most other wine refrigerators. The settings here are from a low of 37.4º to a high of 50ºF. This makes it an all round good beverage chiller as well as a wine refrigerator, but not the best refrigerator for aging more expensive wines.
People find, however, that with only one fan there can be a temperature difference of a few degrees between the top and bottom, so it might be a good idea to put your reds at the top.
Because this is also a compressor cooler, there should be no problem in setting this refrigerator up in a basement or garage. Also, for a compressor model, this refrigerator is actually very quiet. There’s also a metal shelf version which is about $20 less, but it makes the interior look a little like a cheap oven.
7. New Air 116 Bottle Dual Zone – Best Large Wine Refrigerator
For a more premium home or kitchen, or for the well invested wine enthusiast, this New Air is well worth its relatively affordable price. It can be freestanding, but looks better as an built-in refrigerator.
- Upper zone low of 40℉
- Triple layered glass pane
- Easy sliding shelves
- Ambient gold light
- Humidity holder
- Shelves not adjustable
- Space tight between shelves
The dimensions of this refrigerator are very similar to a 24 inch counter depth food refrigerator. The width is 23.5 inches, the depth 26.8 inches and it’s 55 inches in height, so a little shorter by comparison.
The upper zone is a little smaller than the lower, and typically for these higher value models the temperature range is 40° to 50℉ and 50° to 66℉ respectively. Because you can take out the shelves—by operating a level on the side—you can easily store larger or wider bottles. The racks though aren’t adjustable, and it would be better if the space between them was wider too.
Some extras you get are a triple paned UV protected door, and instead of the typical blue LED lighting, you get a lovely soft gold LED instead. The refrigerator of course has a door lock and separate temperature controls and displays for both the upper and lower zones.
There’s also an additional humidity water holder if the interior gets too dry— the ideal humidity should be around 60 to 68%. This cooler doesn’t have a humidity thermometer, but these are very useful and can be picked up really cheaply too.
Comparison Chart for The Best Wine Refrigerators in 2021
|Dual zone Thermoelectric||Upper: 46° to 64 ℉
Lower: 54° to 64 ℉
|Upper: 41° to 55.4℉
Lower: 55.4° to 65.4℉
|Dual zone Thermoelectric||Upper: 46° to 64 ℉
Lower: 54° to 64 ℉
|46° to 64℉|
|Upper: 40° to 50 ℉
Lower: 50° to 66 ℉
|Single zone Compressor||37.4° to 50℉|
|Upper: 40° to 50℉
Lower: 50° to 66 ℉
Even if you don’t buy a lot of wine, having a wine refrigerator will pay its way for the true value and protection it imparts to even a $20 bottle of wine. Our selection of the best wine refrigerators in 2021 has the best dual zone wine refrigerators, including built-in and under-the-counter coolers. If you have anything to add or would like to ask a question, just use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.