The Ultimate Wine Fridge Buying Guide

Wine fridges also referred to as wine refrigerators, wine coolers, or wine cabinets, are designed to store wine bottles in a manner that elevates the taste and integrity of your wine while providing the right conditions required for a proper aging process to take place. They are designed to preserve wines at the ideal temperature and humidity levels.

Choosing the right wine fridge for your home can be overwhelming. There are so many options, types, and features available on the market that can get technical and confusing but don’t worry, we have done all the hard work for you by researching the market and organizing the information in an easy-to-follow guide.

In you will find an overview of what factors to consider, and also the option to choose from the latest and top recommended wine fridges available on the market. All in one place!

What should I look for when buying a wine fridge?

When buying a wine fridge you should consider the following:

Bottle capacity: 

Wine bordeaux size
Standard Wine Bottle Dimension (750 ml)

Choosing the right fridge capacity for your needs will be the starting point of your decision. Wine fridges range from small, with a capacity for a dozen bottles, to extra large, with enough capacity to store several wine cases.

You may be wondering, how do I know what size of bottles I will be able to fit on each fridge? Well, I am glad you asked!

All manufacturers of wine coolers refer to the same type of bottles when they specify the capacity of the cooler, and this is based on what is known in the industry as the Bordeaux bottle.

The Bordeaux bottle is considered the standard size for a 750 ml wine. The dimensions of this bottle are between 11 ½ – 11 ¾ inches (29.2-30 cm) tall and 2 ¾ inches (7 cm) wide. Many brands do not come in size Bordeaux and are wider or longer. If you have mixed bottle sizes expect to be able to store fewer bottles than the full capacity the wine refrigerator can hold. We recommend that you do not fill your wine cooler to its full capacity, as there must be enough room left for air to circulate.

When choosing the fridge size you need to calculate how many bottles you drink per month. The storage capacity you settle for will determine how often you will need to replenish the fridge or, go to the bottle shop to avoid running out of wine.

In addition, you should also consider if you are planning to create a collection or, if you already have one, how many bottles you have in it and how many more you plan to buy in the future. Regardless of your decision, we recommend that you choose a wine refrigerator that has a capacity that is larger than the current size of your collection as it will allow you to expand it over time.

If you are a wine shopaholic, that cannot resist the temptation of buying any new label you can get your hands on, or, you are one of those who likes to buy once and buy big, we recommend choosing an extra large wine fridge or several medium to large ones.

Installation type:

The place you choose to install your wine cooler is very important, as it will determine which type of cooler you need. In this area, there are mainly two options:

Wine storage

Free-standing fridges: These are the type of fridges that can be placed anywhere you like, except for enclosed spaces, as they require a gap around the frame to allow for adequate air circulation. If for some reason, you decide to place a freestanding fridge inside an enclosure, it is recommended that a space of at least 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) on each side is left open to allow for airflow and heat dissipation.

Built-in fridges: These are specifically designed to be recessed into cabinetry, however, they still need to follow the specific clearance guidelines recommended by the manufacturer, which is usually lower than in free-standing fridges, making it the ideal option for that brand new kitchen or outdoor renovation project. Some things to consider when choosing your fridge for a built-in location are height and ventilation. For example, if you want to have your wine refrigerator placed under the counter, you need to make sure you buy a wine fridge that is less than 85 cm high and fitted with front-facing ventilation.

Avoid placing your wine fridge close to any areas that are subject to humidity or temperature fluctuations, such as near the oven. Make sure you don’t place it under direct sunlight as this can heavily change the flavor, texture, and color of the wine.

Coolant type:

One of the most important things to look at when purchasing a wine fridge is its cooling type. Generally, you can expect to encounter two different types of wine fridges: those that utilize thermoelectric cooling and those which are compressor-based:

Thermoelectric wine fridges are vibration-free and usually provide more consistent and controlled temperatures. In small and medium wine coolers, the refrigeration is often done with a thermoelectric unit. This coolant type has very few moving parts making it the ideal technology to avoid vibration.

Compressor wine fridges have higher vibration levels due to their mechanical nature. Manufacturers have taken measures to minimize any vibrations, such as locating the refrigeration system at the top or bottom and adding more insulation. Compressor coolers tend to be more affordable than thermoelectric fridges. In larger units, the coolant type is usually done by a compressor system. Due to the bigger size, the vibration tends to dissipate before reaching the bottles.

Temperature zones:

Wine experts agree that wine’s storing temperatures are different from the serving temperatures. ALL wine has the same ideal storage temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but not all varietals have the same optimal serving temperature, this is why there are wine fridges that have more than one temperature zone.

As a general rule, the lighter the wine is, the lower the storing temperature.

Wine serving temperatures chart
Source: Wikipedia

As you could imagine, multi-zone wine coolers tend to be more expensive than single-zone ones.

Single zone: There is only one temperature control and one storage space. The whole fridge is set at one temperature. This is ideal for someone that only keeps one type of wine, eg only reds or only whites.

Dual zone: A dual-zone model has the storage space divided into two compartments. Each compartment can be set up at its own temperature. This is ideal for someone that wants to keep both, reds and whites ready for serving, without the need of buying a second wine fridge.

Most casual drinkers are happy to relax and simply set a dual-zone wine cooler to 60°F/15°C for their reds and 50°F/10°C for their whites.

You can also use your dual-zone unit slightly different. You can set one zone of your wine fridge at 55°F/13°C for proper storage and aging of both reds and whites, and set the second zone to just move the bottles you plan to serve at your next party into the second zone of your wine fridge the night before. This will allow you to adjust your cooler as needed to just the right temperature for serving only the bottles you plan to drink right away.

If you’re a real wine enthusiast, however, you may be ready to take a deeper dive into the world of temperature control for your wine with tri-zone, Quad-zones or multi-zoned wine fridges.

Energy efficiency:

Compared to a regular refrigerator wine fridge does not use a lot of electricity. Energy consumption will be impacted by your efficiency in operating your wine fridge.

On average, thermoelectric fridges use more energy than compressor ones because they are continuously running. For the smaller fridge choice, thermoelectric will use slightly less electricity than compressor fridges. For large units, compressor fridges tend to be more energy-efficient.

When used appropriately, wine fridges do not use a lot of electricity compared to other larger appliances. The benefits of owning a wine fridge outweigh the cost of electricity.

Door features:

Security or Child lock: Some wine cellars have a lock to protect your wine from children, teenagers, and thieves, or to help you think twice before grabbing wines indiscriminately during a party. In addition, if you rent out your home on Airbnb for example, we strongly suggest getting a wine refrigerator with a lock. Factory-installed safety locks do not come standard on all wine refrigerators, only on some models.

Wine fridge door features

Reversible door: This means that they can be attached to open to the left or to the right. Make sure the door opens on the correct side for your desired location, as not every unit has reversible doors.

Door alarm: Some wine fridges also come with a door alarm that if you accidentally leave your fridge door open or if it does not seal tight an alarm will alert you by making a loud noise or sending a notification to your device. This will prevent your wine from being ruined by fluctuating temperatures.

UV resistant/tinted glass door: Most wine coolers have tinted glass so that your wine is protected from the potential harm of UV light. This will be particularly important if you are going to store the fridge in direct sunlight.

Double Paned or Thermopane Glass doors: This means that the doors consist of two glass panes that contain air sealed between them, this will make your fridge more energy-efficient and stronger than only one pane glass door.

Other features:

Interior led lighting: Interior lighting is always helpful when viewing and selecting from your wine collection; however, you must make sure that it is not harsh or harmful lighting. LED lighting, does not give off heat, making it a safe option for wine refrigerators. The most common indicator that the lights are LED is the modern blue color they emit.

Carbon filter: A carbon filter may sound like something you’d find on an air conditioner or heating unit, but that’s not quite the case here. In this instance, it’s placed in a wine fridge to absorb unwanted odors that otherwise can seep into your wine over time, leaving only your favorite scents behind. This is important if you have corked wines in your collection as they are very susceptible to unpleasant smells.

Make sure you also read the 5 Common mistakes when buying a wine fridge article with some very helpful tips to avoid.

Now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on what is the Best Wine Fridge for you!

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