Wine Cooler Buying Guide

A wine cooler can keep your whites chilled and ready, and your reds at exactly the right temperature. This wine cooler buying guide outlines the various model types and features to consider.

Wine Coolers 101

A wine cooler, also called a wine refrigerator, wine cellar, or wine chiller, is specifically designed to control the three major factors that affect your wine’s longevity and taste. These are temperature, humidity, and UV light. Because red and white wines are best stored at different temperatures, wine coolers come with two temperature zones to keep different types of wine at their optimal state.

Types of Wine Coolers


Countertop Wine Coolers

Countertop wine coolers are designed with entertaining in mind, and are best for keeping wine at the right serving temperature whenever you want it. A countertop model is conveniently sized to fit in wherever you tend to serve wine, be it a home bar or kitchen counter. Capacity ranges from approximately 4 to 20 bottles. Because countertop models are more focused on serving wine at the right temperature than preserving a collection, they feature clearer glass so you can see the wines inside. Their size also makes them more energy efficient than larger coolers.

Freestanding Wine Coolers

If you serve a lot of wine, or are building a collection, you should consider a freestanding wine cooler. Similar to a wine rack in style, these floor models can hold upwards of 50 bottles, laid flat for optimal storage. Different temperature zones help to keep reds cool for extended storage, and whites more chilled for ready serving. From a practical standpoint, it also makes for a convenient place to store all your wine instead of scattered in fridges and cabinets throughout the house. Some models are conveniently sized to fit into smaller spaces, like closets or cupboards, while larger units will accommodate a larger collection.

Integrated Wine Coolers

Integrated wine coolers, also called under counter wine coolers or wine cabinets, are designed to fit in seamlessly with your kitchen countertop. These models offer a combination of convenience and professional storage quality for wine lovers. Because they fit into your existing cabinetry, they save space while giving your collection a prominent place in your kitchen or entertainment area. When considering an integrated wine cooler, think about matching decor and the space available. Capacity is usually 50 or more bottles, with dual temperature zones for whites and reds. In general, integrated wine coolers are 34 inches high by 24 inches wide, but narrower models are available.

Wine Storage Tips:

  • Always store wine bottles on their side to prevent the cork from drying out: a dried cork can crack and let air into the wine
  • Look for aluminum shelves to help keep your cooler’s temperature and humidity more consistent
  • If you plan on storing red wine for a long time, the relative humidity should be between 60-75%
  • The best red wine storage temperature is from 10 to 15° C
  • While there is some debate about whether or not vibration affects the taste and quality of wine, avoid moving your cooler too often to keep bottles still

Wine Cooler Features

Temperature Zones +

Some wine coolers have separate temperature zones to keep different wines at their optimal temperatures. Dual zone models feature separate compartments, each with its own programmable temperature: one for whites, one for reds. Single zone wine coolers have just one thermostat, but the cooling system keeps the lower levels slightly cooler, which can be helpful if you tend to serve or collect one type of wine more than another.

Thermostats and Displays +

A programmable thermostat with a clear display lets you easily control your wine cooler’s temperature and humidity. Unlike refrigerators, which use cooling systems that tend to dehydrate the items stored inside them, wine coolers keep humidity levels stable. Some models conveniently allow you to adjust the temperature from the outside, without disturbing the bottles inside.

Shelving +

Wine coolers come with shelves that slide in or out to let you customize your storage space. Molded wire racks are better for keeping wine in place, especially if the racks are moveable, while flat shelving is best if you keep a variety of uniquely-shaped bottles. For the collector, shelves that can be adjusted for different heights will offer you the most control over storing your wine.

Lights +

Lights in wine coolers are designed to help preserve your wine from harmful UV light, which is known to fade labels and prematurely age wine. They also allow you to see which bottles you have without opening the door.

Doors +

Wine cooler doors are usually made from glass so you can easily see your wine collection. Some coolers come with reversible hinges so the door can open either way, which is especially handy if the cooler is going into a small space. The glass itself is also very important. Select doors with UV protection to avoid premature aging of the wine, and insulated glass that will help the cooler stay at a consistent temperature while using less energy.

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Wine Serving Tips:

  • While each wine is a little different, here’s a quick reference to the best serving temperatures for each type of wine: red wine 10-18° C, rosé 7-13° C, white wine 7-10° C, sparkling wine and champagne 4-9° C
  • Consider aerating your wine with a decanter up to an hour before serving: it “opens up” the wine via oxygenation, and also helps to keep sediment in the bottle
  • Tulip-shaped wine glasses help to focus the smell, or nose, of the wine and will let you taste the wine better
  • Fill wine glasses to just below the widest point so your guests can swirl the wine around the glass to open it up
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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