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If you don’t have the space to build a wine cellar, then a wine fridge is the next best thing.
The best wine fridges (also known as wine coolers) allow you to store and chill your wines at custom temperatures, helping to extend the life of your favorite bottle and to lock in its notes and flavors. You know how wines need to age properly before drinking? Why age your pricey bottles in the same fridge where you keep your ketchup and milk when you can store them safely and securely in their own specialized spot?
Aside from freeing up your fridge space, a wine cooler lets you preserve your wine at the most optimal settings possible — think colder, darker and less exposed to moving and shifting.
The best temperature for chilling wines is slightly warmer than your regular refrigerator but cooler than room temperature. Wine enthusiasts will tell you that the best wine coolers should be set at 10 to 20 degrees above what your fridge is set to. We’ve found models on our list that get you a temperature between 46°F and 66°F. Most wine fridges offer a single-climate setting, though we’ve also included a dual-zone wine cooler, that lets you keep red wines at one temperature up top, and white wines a little more chilled down below.
While fridges come with bright lights and doors that never seem to stay shut, the newest wine fridges are all equipped with double-walled, thermopane glass doors and cool-to-the-touch LED lighting that illuminates the contents inside the fridge without heating anything up. All of the models on our list also run on thermoelectric technology, cooling the wine with direct bursts of cold currents, rather than spinning mechanical fans or moving parts. What that means: no fear of leaks or liquids spilling out, like you often find with regular refrigerators.
It’s not just for wine either — the best wine fridges can also be used for soft drinks, beer, liquor and even for chilling snacks. Most of the picks on our list are small enough to be tucked under a kitchen counter, though they’re all elegantly-designed and display-worthy in your den or next to a bar cart as well. All of the models on our list are freestanding wine coolers, meaning no mounting necessary.
Whether you’re aging an expensive bottle, or need to keep the bubbly chilled before your next party, here are some of the best wine coolers on the market today.
1. NutriChef 12 Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Thanks to its high-precision thermoelectric technology, the temperature inside this NutriChef cooler is distributed more evenly and precisely to all corners of the mini fridge (you can adjust it manually too). And because it’s using a thermoelectric system rather than moving mechanical parts, you don’t have to worry about leaks or condensation like you would in a regular fridge.
The wine cooler features a touch-screen display, an LED lighting system (to let you easily see what’s inside) and a built-in circulation fan and ventilation grill. The cooling system is surprisingly quiet, without the hum or buzz that comes from cheaper models.
This wine cooler measures 9.9 x 19.7 x 25 inches. It has a simple design with a reinforced glass door and large pull handle. The cooler has a capacity of 12 bottles.
This set includes the cooler, chrome wine racks and all the cables you need to plug in and start using right away.
PROS: Fast and consistent thermo-electric cooling technology, runs smoothly and quietly, elegant design that blends into most decor schemes.
CONS: If you want to store more than 12 bottles, you’ll want to look for a cooler with a larger capacity. Some found the LED lighting to be a bit dark.
2. h0melabs 18-Bottle Wine Cooler
This freestanding wine cooler has enough space for 18 bottles of your favorite wine. Store the wines horizontally on the included racks, or stand them up vertically on the bottom of the fridge. The racks slide out for easy access; a glass door lets you quickly see what you have inside.
The thermoelectric cooling system keeps the temperature of this wine refrigerator between 54°F – 64°F. Set your preferred temperature from the front-facing control panel. The control panel also has an LCD display to indicate the current temperature, and there’s a button to turn on the interior light, so you can get a better view of what’s inside the cooler (or light it up for some ambiance).
This is a freestanding wine fridge that measures 14 x 20 x 25.5 inches. There is enough space for 18 standard-sized bottles of wine.
PROS: Sleek, sophisticated design. Easy to setup and use.
CONS: Temperature doesn’t go below 54°F (about 12°C).
3. Wine Enthusiast 18-Bottle Wine Refrigerator
This fridge gets you space for 18 bottles of wine, with the ability to set two different temperature levels for your collection. The top zone has an adjustable temperature range of 54°F to 66°F (great for red wines), while the bottom zone has an adjustable temperature range of 46°F-66°F (great for whites).
Use the digital touch screen to control your settings. We like the glass “smoke screen” up top, which lets you see into your fridge without being completely see-through. The shelves are all removable, allowing more flexibility to accommodate larger bottles.
This freestanding fridge measures 37.5 x 9.87 x 20.25 inches. Because of its larger size, you may hear some humming; make sure the fridge is positioned on a fully flat surface to minimize any vibrations or space between its base and the floor. That will help eliminate any noise.
PROS: Dual-zone technology lets you keep wines chilled at different temperatures. Wine Enthusiast says the thermoelectric refrigerator is energy-efficient and CFC-free.
CONS: Largest unit on our list – you’ll need to find space for this.