Whether you're aging bottles in a wine cellar, want easy kitchen access, or only have space in the corner of a small apartment, buying a wine fridge is a great way to chill, store, and protect your favorite reds and whites (and rosés and sparklings, too). But deciding which cooler to purchase can be just as tricky as creating the perfect pairing.
Top connoisseurs, sommeliers, and high-end restaurants often gravitate to brands like EuroCave to keep their bottles at ideal aging and serving temperatures, spending thousands of dollars for precise temperature and humidity controls. Fortunately, for average oenophiles, there are more affordable options. Sacrificing on price may mean these fridges are never quite perfect, however, your bottles will still stay in an optimal temperature range, be well-protected, and will fit into any living space.
After extensive tests in Reviewed's refrigerator laboratories recording temperatures, and assessing build quality and storage capacity, our top pick is the Wine Enthusiast 32-Bottle Dual-Zone MAX Compressor Wine Cooler (available at Wine Enthusiast) . However, if you're more finicky about serving and storing wine temperatures, we discovered the Vinotemp 42-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Cooler (available at Amazon) offers better temperature precision and a unique interior design.
Wine Enthusiast 32-Bottle Dual-Zone MAX
The Wine Enthusiast 32-bottle Dual-Zone MAX does a lot with a small space, it's well-crafted, keeps bottles at appropriate temperatures, and thanks to its tinted glass door, it easily fits into any décor. This freestanding cooler includes dual temperature zones and removable sturdy chrome racks. There's an easy-to-use temperature control panel with LED display, and during our bottle stuffing tests, we were actually able to fit a few more than its promised 32 bottles.
While most of the shelving racks are set up to store bottles in a traditional way, the bottom shelf is shaped like a bin so you can show off a few of your favorite labels or stack a few daily drinkers for easier access. A few of the shelves can also be removed if you prefer to stack more of your bottles (this can be especially helpful if you have Champagne bottles made from thicker glass or larger format bottles).
We were also pleasantly surprised with the temperature performance. Both zones can be set between 41 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit using a touch control panel on the top of the fridge. With one temperature zone set at 60 degrees and the other set at 55, we found that the temperature of the wine in the 60-degree zone was spot on. However, the temperature variations registered plus or minus 2 to 3 degrees in the cooler 55-degree zone.
Aesthetically, this is a sleek-looking fridge. The tinted glass door appears mirrored from the outside.
Using compressor cooling technology, it is energy efficient and only made the slightest bit of noise only heard if the door was opened. There's interior LED lighting mounted at the top of the cavity, but it doesn't provide much light when it's stuffed with bottles.
To find our top picks we compared six models from top brands from the perspective of a certified wine geek who for years has relied on these coolers to protect her wine collection, as well as from Reviewed's senior scientist who designs and oversees home-appliance testing in our Cambridge, Mass., laboratories.
Hi! I'm Alicia Cypress, a managing editor at Reviewed responsible for overseeing all our Best Right Now product guides. But my true passion is wine. I'm WSET (Wine and Spirits Educational Trust) certified, which means I've formally studied the subject, and when I'm not focused on my day job, I keep up with wine industry trends. As an apartment dweller, most of my wine collection relies on using a separate fridge to ensure the bottles stay in tip-top condition.
I worked closely with Reviewed Senior Scientist Julia MacDougall, who's tested a wide variety of products, including rakes, paper shredders, and coding toys for kids. She also oversees all of Reviewed home appliance testing and has become an expert at what makes for a good refrigerator. She devised the testing for this guide and was responsible for evaluating the fridges and coolers from a temperature and build perspective.
After unpacking and installing each appliance, we set the temperatures in the unit and then let each unit run and calibrate for more than 24 hours prior to further testing. This is similar to the way we test regular refrigerators; this gives the coolant time to circulate and ensure each product is working properly.
For the dual-zone fridges, we set the two zones to either 60 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 and 50 Fahrenheit, depending on the temperature limits in each unit. For single-zone fridges, we set the temperature to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
To measure the temperature inside the bottles, we placed wireless temperature sensors in tiny plastic baggies, suspended them inside screwtop Chardonnay bottles, and then placed four bottles at four different locations inside each cooler. After three days, we pulled the temperature data from the bottles and then assessed each product with respect to its temperature accuracy (ability to hit a specific temperature) and its temperature consistency (ability to maintain similar temperatures throughout the fridge cavity).
If a cooler is both accurate and consistent, it would have wine temperatures throughout the entire cavity that were close to that setting and then stay that way as long as the appliance is running.
With a unit that is accurate but not consistent, the wine temperatures in one or more parts of the fridge might have an average value that matches the set temperature, but it could have more extreme temperature swings; furthermore, other places in the cavity might have temperatures that are very different from the original set temperature.
We also assessed each unit with respect to more user-focused criteria such as ease of use, build quality, and wine bottle capacity.
Tips for Buying a Wine Refrigerator
What Size Do I Need?
The first thing to know is you'll always need something with more capacity than you think. Considering a small 12-bottle countertop model? Go for one that holds 18 bottles. Spy something that's 24 bottles? Chances are, once you start using it, you'll wish you bought the 32-bottle version or one that holds 46 bottles. And for budding collectors, whatever you chose won't ever feel like enough. Most are created in multiple sizes. For this guide, we chose models to test based on which provided the greatest value, as prices will fluctuate depending on their size. So if you find a model you like, but it's not in the size you want, be sure to check the retailer for more options.
A Note About Bottle Capacity
When a manufacturer markets a cellar and claims it can hold a set number of bottles, it's usually doing so based on it only storing all of the same-sized bottles (usually Bordeaux-syle bottles). So a 32-bottle claim may actually hold less if you—like many vino lovers—have a wine collection of different styles and producers.
While a standard bottle holds 750 milliliters of liquid, bottle shapes and sizes vary greatly. In some cases, it's traditional (and sometimes required by a country or region's laws) for certain wines that are made from specific grapes to be bottled in specific-shaped bottles. The next region over will then stipulate something completely different.
For example, a Bordeaux bottle has high structured shoulders, while a Burgundy bottle has a longer neck with softer shoulders and a rounder midsection. Riesling bottles have even longer necks and are taller and more slender, while Champagne bottles may be similar to a Burgundy bottle but have a slightly wider base and thicker glass used to protect it from exploding. Trust me, that glass thickness will matter if shelves are too close together.
In our testing for this guide, we purposely used a random assortment of 750-milliliter bottles to test storage capacity. We found coolers with adjustable shelving and removable racks are generally more helpful to fit different-sized bottles. It also makes it easier to store Magnums or other large-format bottles.
Compressor vs. Thermoelectric Technology
Most of the appliances we evaluated include compressor technology. As Vinotemp—a brand that makes entry-level fridges to high-end cellar-worthy models—explains in this well-detailed buying guide, the technology is recommended for midsize units because it can quickly cool down, maintain a wide temperature range, and the fridge won't be impacted by the temperature of the room where it's placed. Unlike thermoelectric wine coolers—which may be more energy-efficient—where the external temperature of the room can influence how cold the fridge will get.
Do I Need Dual Temperature Zones?
In my early wine-buying experience, I thought having dual temperature zones would be the smart move so I could keep my red wines chilled at one temperature, and my whites chilled a little cooler, but as time went on, I wound up setting both sides of my 48-bottle cooler to the same 55-degree temperature. After 7 years, I upgraded to a 92-bottle refrigerable with a single zone and have not missed having the second option.
So do you need two zones? Maybe not, but dual-zone fridges can be helpful if you're eager to keep some bottles at a perfect serving temperature while keeping others at a more consistent aging temperature for long-term storage.
Free Standing vs. Built-In Wine Refrigerators
This decision is based on where you intend to keep your fridge. If you're installing it under a cabinet in your kitchen or bar area, a built-in model is best. These models will have ventilation systems in front (usually at the bottom of the unit), so that the warm air it emits doesn't get trapped and heat up the unit. Look for coolers that allow you to switch the door to open from either side, so you can customize it to your space.
Freestanding coolers are great for those who plan to place them in a basement cellar, living room, office, bedroom (no judgment!), or really anywhere else! The ventilation areas will often be found on the sides or the back. Just be careful to leave several inches of space around the side with the vent and not push it directly against a wall.
Still not sure? Fortunately, many built-in models can also be used as freestanding fridges. The format won't impact the cooling systems, it's mostly an aesthetic choice.
Other Wine Fridges We Tested
Vinotemp 42-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Cooler
If maintaining accurate temperatures is your top priority, the Vinotemp 42-bottle Touchscreen is the most reliable model for you.
During our testing, we found that the Vinotemp did the best job cooling the wine to the set temperature. More specifically, the temperatures of the bottles located in the middle of the fridge were a very close match to our set temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit; the bottles stored in the top and bottom racks were only off by a few degrees. The single-zone Vinotemp also has a great temperature range, allowing you to set it from anywhere between 41 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
But another reason you may enjoy the Vinotemp is the way it stores the bottles. If you want to show off your labels, the racks are set up to lay your bottles from front-to-back so that the label of the front bottle is front and center.
If you drink a lot of the same type of wine, this storage method is great, but if you prefer drinking a mix of producers and styles, it's a little cumbersome to find and reach a bottle that may be tucked four bottles deep on a shelf. While the metal wire shelves easily slide in and out, it felt a little precarious when the shelf was extended and stocked with bottles. During testing, we feared some bottles might fall to the floor if we didn't help support the extended shelf.
Using our random assortment of sparkling, red, and white wine bottles, the fridge held 41 of the stated 42 bottles. Remember, bottle counts often refer to storing the same shape and style of bottle.
This freestanding nearly-silent cooler also includes a lock, which is a nice addition to keep little ones (or perhaps roommates) from accessing your stash.
This Magic Chef 44-bottle Dual-Zone is a Home Depot best seller and can be used installed as a built-in or be used as a freestanding unit. Although aesthetically, with its more industrial look, this very sturdy fridge is most likely used as a built-in under a bar, island or kitchen counter.
For its price, we're impressed with the number of bottles it can hold, too. While filled with a mix of bottle shapes and sizes, the bottles didn't feel like they were jammed inside, however, it took some maneuvering to ensure the different size bottles would fit.
This unit does not include adjustable shelving, but for its layout, it's fine. During testing, we never doubted whether the stainless-steel shelves would support the bottles. And opening the stainless steel door over and over again with its horizontal handle was easy to do.
The control panel, located inside the unit, took a few minutes to understand how to use, but the dual-zones provide separate storage areas. Unlike some of the more silent models we tested, we noted a small hum coming from inside the cavity.
In our temperature tests, we discovered the Magic Chef runs a little warm. We set the two zones to 60 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit; but the wine in those two zones registered average temperatures of 61 to 62 degrees and 58 to 59 degrees, respectively.
The Frigidaire is a really nice choice if you're in the market for a built-in fridge (it can work as a freestanding cooler, too). It's a beautiful, sturdy, and well-built appliance and we love its 52-bottle storage capacity (in wine storage, more is more, right?!). With a mix of different size bottles, this fridge comfortably held 50 bottles during our testing.
The Frigidaire features a reversible door and a single-temperature zone that can be set between 41 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, one of the shelves can be converted to hold 12-ounce cans if you're a fan of canned wine or there are other-kinds-of-beverage lovers in the house.
The wire with wood-trimmed racks were very easy to pull in and out and were among my favorites of all the appliances we tested. There was never a worry with the shelf extended whether it would support the bottles. Plus, there was no fighting or struggling with the shelves to pull or push them in and out of the fridge.
During temperature testing, we found this fridge also runs a bit warm. When set to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the wine temperatures typically ranged from 59 to 62 degrees. The temperatures are largely consistent with one another, though, so to get your desired temperature, you'll need to turn the Frigidaire down a few degrees.
When we first started researching this guide, NewAir came quickly to mind thanks to its savvy social media presence, which marketed stylish coolers and beverage centers. The brand was new to me, and it left a big impression. But when we set up the fridge in Reviewed's lab, my excitement faded a little.
While still very good-looking, the outer shell materials didn't feel as solid as the other appliances we evaluated, and during testing, it nearly tipped over while the door was open. The interior, however, is a different story. The wood shelves are beautiful, sturdy, and easy to pull in and out. In fact, it had me wondering if wood might be a preferable shelving material for all fridges.
It includes blue LED lighting throughout the cavity, rather than just being installed at the top of the fridge. Finding bottles in the dark is never fun, and while the lighting still feels mostly decorative, it was more helpful than many of the other fridges we tested.
In our temperature testing, we found that this NewAir runs a bit warm, much like the others we tested. We set its two zones to 55 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the wine inside those two zones had average temperatures of 60 degrees and 55 to 56 degrees, respectively.
Product testing can sometimes make you feel a bit like Goldilocks. One product is a little too big, another is a little too small, and finding the perfect item feels elusive. With the GE Wine Center, we felt exactly like the curly-haired fairy-tale character before she found what she wanted.
This single-zone fridge, which could be set between 41 and 61 degrees Fahrenheit, was a little small—the 19-inch wide cavity felt tight and crowded inside—plus we couldn't quite fit a mix of 30 different-sized bottles. Pulling out the shelves felt a little precarious at times. It was a little noisier than the other fridges we tested, and its inside temperature control panel took an extra second to respond.
However, its exterior is well built, and aesthetically its modern look would fit nicely in a wet bar or a small kitchen. It also had very good interior lighting. As an added touch, inside the cavity, GE has kindly posted the suggested storage and serving temperatures for everything from sparklers to full-bodied white wine, as well as for light-, medium-, and full-bodied reds; plus the instructions on how to adjust the temperature of the fridge.
During our temperature tests, the bottles inside the GE were a bit warmer than the 55-degree temperature we set. The recorded wine temperatures ranged from 58 to 61 degrees.
Alicia Cypress oversaw Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" product guides. She’s a veteran journalist, spending her career before Reviewed at The Washington Post and NPR. In her free time, she studies and writes about wine.
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