One only needs to pop a cork and have a sip to know why wine consumption in the U.S. has steadily increased since 2000. Everyone is hopping on the oak barrel, so to speak.
It seems we all know a little more about wine than we used to, and most can discern the difference between $5 bottles and the “good stuff” (excluding this author, who swears the $5 bottles are just as good). That’s why it’s important to store wine at the proper temperature — and that’s why we tracked down the best wine coolers, also called wine chillers or wine refrigerators.
Here are the best wine coolers:
- EdgeStar Built-In Dual-Zone Wine Refrigerator
- NewAir Dual Zone Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
- Wine Enthusiast Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator
- Avanti Thermoelectric Counter Top Wine Cooler
- Haier Wine Cellar with Electronic Controls
- Nostalgia Electrics Wine Chiller
We carefully selected these brands after sifting through thousands of online reviews. We wanted to give you a broad range of choices, so we looked for wine coolers that were able to hold a consistent temperature; coolers that offered space for various bottle sizes; coolers that were aesthetically pleasing and offered floor or counter storage options; coolers that offered dual climate control for red and white wine lovers; and coolers at various price points.
How to Properly Store Wine
Temperature and Light
Wine can be temperamental when it comes to temperature; it needs to be just right, not too hot or too cold. Heat and light (especially direct sunlight), along with air, are wine’s biggest enemies; temperatures of more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit will literally cook it.
Wine Spectator Magazine says that the ideal storage temperature is 45-65 degrees (55 degrees being optimal), and keeping the temperature consistent is important. Your refrigerator is not the ideal choice for long-term storage, as most fridge temperatures go below 45 degrees. Plus, the dry air can cause the cork to dry and crack, allowing air to seep in and ruin the wine.
Your garage also is not an ideal home for your wine, since it can get hot during the summer months and cold in the winter. Even light bulbs can be tricky. Incandescent bulbs are preferred over fluorescent, since fluorescent bulbs can emit UV light, which is damaging to wine (and could also fade your labels). Wine does come with its own form of UV protection — that’s why the bottles are always dark.
Humidity and Air
As a general rule, wine likes a humidity of 50 percent to 80 percent. The ideal humidity is 70 percent; this offers the lowest chance of the cork becoming too dry and letting air into the wine. Wine Spectator suggests placing a pan of water near your wine cooler to raise humidity levels.
Air is wine’s enemy No. 1. This is also why wine is usually stored on its side; it keeps the corks from drying out. (Of course, if the bottle has a screw top, that is unnecessary.)
Wine Coolers as a Storage Option
With the increased purchase and consumption of wine in the U.S., there is one question that plagues the budding collector and everyday connoisseur: Where can I store my wine to keep it protected from environmental factors and, more important, ready to drink at its ideal temperature?
Since we know that refrigerators are not ideal locations to store wine, and not everyone can carve out space for a dedicated wine cellar, the best answer is a wine cooler (or wine chiller, or wine refrigerator).
The market for wine coolers is growing, and the number of models available for purchase is increasing accordingly. The purpose is simple: to provide a controlled environment for both long-term (storage/aging) and short-term (drinking) needs.
The ability to maintain a consistent temperature is paramount for wine coolers. Other factors should be considered as well, such as aesthetics, capacity and price.
With so many wine coolers available, how do you sort through the overwhelming amount of data? Freshome has done the legwork for you, sifting through professional and user reviews as well as manufacturer specs to narrow down the best options.
We have included a variety of price points and capacities to meet the needs of a wide range of consumers. There’s sure to be one that fits the requirements of your wine habits.
Features to Look For
There are certain things to be aware of when looking at purchasing a wine chiller, regardless of the brand or size. If the unit has an internal light, it is commonly going to be a dim blue glow, since bright lights and wine do not get along. Compressor-based cooling units are going to function like your refrigerator, keeping temps steady, with some inherent noise.
Thermoelectric units will typically run more quietly, but they will drop the temperature only about 20-30 degrees lower than the room temp — something to keep in mind if you tend to live in a hot climate and don’t always run your air conditioner. These could show a slight spike in temperature when opened. Don’t be alarmed; it will even out in a short time.
No unit is going to be universally liked, as the way people use and care for them vary. If an extended warranty is available, we recommend getting one; it could save some hassles later on. Recurring patterns of negative reviews are cause for concern, and we included those in our findings. Here are the six best wine coolers that we reviewed.
EdgeStar Built-In Dual-Zone Wine Refrigerator
- List price: $899
- Capacity: 36 standard 750mL wine bottles; built-in or freestanding
- Two temperature zones
- French door layout with black dot-matrix tempered glass; black cabinet and stainless steel trim locking doors
- 10 full-depth and two partial-depth slide-out stainless steel-trimmed wood shelves
- Dimensions: 24.5” L x 23.5″ W x 34″ H ; 110 pounds
The EdgeStar is the largest wine chiller in our review, offering storage space for 36 standard 750mL bottles and dual climate control. It is the only unit we reviewed that can be installed as a built-in wine cooler or function as freestanding. It is an aesthetically pleasing unit, getting a lot of user feedback such as “pleasant design” and “good looks.”
The vast majority of users found this wine cooler, which functions via a compressor unit, to be exceptionally quiet, commenting primarily on the noise of the unit being a “pop” when the compressor starts. Owners said it was easy to set up and use. They liked that the doors lock on the storage area, but some wished that EdgeStar had installed a lock on the control panel as well.
There were not many negative comments regarding this chiller. Some owners expressed concern that the shelves were a little tight and don’t pull out all the way. There were other reports of the front vent being easily bent, especially during transport and unpacking. Truly concerning reviews were few and far between, but two owners mentioned that their unit stopped working after just months of use.
One professional review touted that this unit does not produce vibrations that could disturb the sediment in your wine, an important factor in maintaining your wine’s quality. Overall, the EdgeStar is a solid performer for those looking to chill a larger collection of wine at two different temperatures.
NewAir Dual Zone Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
- List price: $574
- Capacity: 32 standard 750mL wine bottles; freestanding
- Model AW-321ED
- Digital temperature display
- Two temperature zones
- Vibration-free thermoelectric cooling technology
- Wooden pull-out shelving
- Dimensions: 20.5” L x 21.5” W x 32.25” H; 69 pounds
The NewAir wine cooler offers dual temperature zones and holds 32 bottles, making it comparable to the EdgeStar unit. This unit offers removable wooden shelves to allow you to customize the storage capabilities. It is a substantial piece of equipment, but it has a pleasing appearance so it blends easily into most homes.
According to owner comments, this thermoelectric wine cooler runs very quietly. There are mixed reviews of the wooden shelves; some owners found them to be sturdy, while others felt they were rough, weak and loose. The separate controls for each zone makes setting the temperature easy.
Because of the way the NewAir cools the wine, there is a certain amount of heat output to be expected. It is important that this (and any) unit be placed in an area with the recommended airflow clearance. Multiple owner reviews stated that one side of the chiller lost the ability to hold its desired temperature. But without knowing the conditions of these units, it is difficult to determine whether this was caused by a lack of ventilation, improper usage or a design flaw.
Customer service was an area where positive and negative comments seemed to cancel each other out, with about the same number of owners weighing in on each side. Customers also seemed to conclude that sometimes the distributor is more willing to help with a replacement than the manufacturer. The majority of consumers rated the NewAir highly, though, so it remains a worthwhile choice for the price.
Wine Enthusiast Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator
- List price: $479
- Capacity: 18 standard 750mL wine bottles; freestanding
- Thermoelectric, energy-efficient, CFC-free
- Seven pull-out chrome shelves
- Two temperature zones
- Slimline unit
- Exterior digital touchscreen with temperature display
- Dimensions: 20” L x 9.9” W x 37.5” H; 52 pounds
This Wine Enthusiast unit isn’t going to fit on a countertop because of its height, but it does fit easily in many other places. Whereas our other coolers so far have offered dual climate zones horizontally, this slimline unit places those zones on the vertical.
Owners of this wine refrigerator were vocal about the positives. It was considered attractive and easy to use. The dual zones seemed to hold their temperature, although one user did point out that it would be nice to have separate doors.
The Wine Enthusiast model has some conflicting reports regarding the noise level; some said it was quiet, but others called it noisier than they wanted, noting a frequent hum. The storage space is relatively tight, but given the smaller footprint of the unit, that should not come as a surprise, and it should suit the needs of the moderate collector.
One user commented that the unit needs considerable space to vent. Each manufacturer includes guidelines regarding the space requirements that should be adhered to for maximum efficiency, so be sure to read the user manual.
Another owner said that when he was registering his purchase with Wine Enthusiast, he chose to add an extended warranty, but was told it was no longer available due to “overwhelming demand.” Why would a warranty have such high demand? We were unable to verify whether that was still the case, but it does give some pause.
Overall, this Wine Enthusiast cooler has several benefits — most notably, the ability to chill your wine without taking up a lot of space.
Avanti Thermoelectric Counter Top Wine Cooler
- List price: $129
- Capacity: 12 standard 750mL wine bottles; freestanding
- Model EWC1201
- One temperature zone
- Design allows vertical storage of up to four bottles
- Black cabinet with curved glass door and platinum-finished accents
- Dimensions: 20.2” L x 10” W x 25.2” H; 27 pounds
The Avanti cooler features a unique option for wine storage — vertical/upright storage for open bottles. Up to four bottles can be placed upright on the left side of the unit, while eight bottles can be stored on their sides on racks. The Avanti is a thermoelectric model, requiring 5 inches of space around it for ventilation.
Upright storage is one of the things that owners love most about the Avanti, with some selecting this cooler solely because of that option. An interesting observation about the reviews: some owners seem to be repeatedly calling out those with negative reviews as more likely a cause of user error than actual problems with the model. More than one person mentioned tips to get the most from your chiller; some even posted them in their reviews. The majority of reviewers were pleased with their unit.
As with the assessment of the NewAir chiller, it was impossible to know whether users were following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Multiple reviewers said that the unit was noisy and that it always seemed to be running. A few owners were frustrated by the interior light (it only came on as a demo, but they could not get it to stay on), but another reviewer pointed out that it needs to be activated to work properly.
Some problems were clearly user issues — including not realizing that its size made the Avanti a poor choice for many countertops. There are benefits to the Avanti, including the upright storage option and the ability to lock the temperature, making it necessary to reset only when the power goes out. The features that it offers may outweigh the risks, but that is a decision between you and your bank account.
Haier Wine Cellar with Electronic Controls
- List price: $139
- 8 standard 750mL wine bottles; freestanding
- One temperature zone
- Black cabinet with curved door; smoked glass with black trim
- Adjustable digital thermostat control with blue LED display
- Dimensions: 20.3” L x 9.9” W x 17.9” H; 20.9 pounds
As an eight-bottle wine chiller, the Haier has a lot of devoted fans. It offers a single-temperature storage area for your wine. Some individuals said they set the temp between the high recommendation for white and low recommendation for red, and they seem satisfied with the results. Others have appreciated the Haier to the extent that they purchase two — one for each type of wine.
Overall, reviews are favorable; users certainly seem to appreciate this chiller. The positive feedback is huge, including nods to the visual appeal, consistency of temperature and quiet operation. The Haier’s low energy consumption even has people gushing. It is an affordable unit that is solidly constructed and easy to control.
Negative comments echo those that appear in every other brand of wine chiller that we looked at. People commented on the ventilation space needed for this thermoelectric unit and lamented the fact that it couldn’t be built in. A stray comment regarding shelf space is to be expected for these more compact units. One user’s comment on the uselessness of the light in the chiller was pretty standard for this type of equipment.
The professional reviewer noted that the manufacturer’s quality and attention to detail shines through in its features of a double-paned glass door and sizing that accommodates a bottle with a stopper in it. The satisfaction with this unit from a substantial number of reviewers makes it a safe bet for your wine storage.
Nostalgia Electrics Wine Chiller
- List price: $120
- 8 standard 750mL wine bottles; freestanding
- Model EWC008BLK
- One temperature zone
- Black cabinet with blue interior lighting and LED display with touch keys
- Auto defrost, adjustable thermostat cools within ambient room temperature
- Dimensions: 21” L x 16.5” W x 11.5” H ; 24.4 pounds
The Nostalgia Electrics unit does not have the high volume of reviews that the Haier has, but it does warrant mention as a similarly priced unit with lofty praise. This is another single-temperature, thermoelectric storage option that requires significant airflow for optimal performance. It fits well on a kitchen counter, keeping your wine cool and close at hand.
It seems as though the design appeal of wine coolers is universal, as the Nostalgia piece received good reviews for its looks as well. It is reported as easy to set up, quiet and accurate in its temperature. One reviewer said it was “better than expected for the price.”
The negative side of Nostalgia comes down to concern over the need for airflow. One person reported it as loud, though many more praised the unit for being so quiet. Perhaps it is more of a personal preference for that particular user. Another person reported that the unit had to be returned as it did not keep the wine cool enough, but the possibility of user error is relatively high, given what we have seen with this issue even on the higher-end models.
Strong praise for the quality of the chiller at an affordable price point earned the Nostalgia a place in this review. For those wishing to cool a smaller grouping of wines at a single temperature, the Nostalgia is worth consideration.
Summary of Our Findings
Wine coolers vary as much as the collections they cool and store. They range from large, high-end units to small yet mighty chillers, leaving a lot of room for determining your individual needs. No matter which brand you settle on, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and get an extended warranty, if you can. Check your sizes and ventilation requirements to make sure the unit fits your space.
If you are looking to store a substantial wine collection, we recommend the EdgeStar. For a smaller collection, or if you just want to free up some space and have perfectly chilled wine on hand, the Haier (or two — one for reds, one for whites) is the best solution.
What type of wine cooler do you swear by to keep your whites and reds refreshing? Let us know in the comments below.