What is the difference between a Wine Cooler and a Wine Fridge?

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True wine lovers know not to store their wine in the kitchen fridge for various reasons, but there is still confusion when you compare a wine fridge and a wine cooler. The meanings have become interchangeable over time, even in adverts from places that should know better. While it’s true the difference is subtle, it is enough to warrant some further investigation. All in a good cause, of course – ideally stored wine should never be at risk. For those still feeling bemused about fridge differences, the most significant difference is that a kitchen fridge is for food storage and has lower temperatures, whilest wine dedicated appliances have ideal temperatures for wine. Wine fridges and large wine coolers are very similar at first glance.

The Difference in Purpose Between a Wine Cooler and Wine Fridge

Coolers and wine fridges serve the same purpose – proper chilled wine storage. Other beverages should never enter the equation as the wine needs a higher temperature than a bottle of iced tea or soft drink. Sharing the same chilling space will leave you with either a too warm beer or a too cold bottle of vino. Neither option holds any appeal.

Size Difference In Wine Chillers

While wine coolers chill and store wine, they are generally smaller units. Known as mini wine fridges, they are found on counter-tops, bar tops and in caravans everywhere. A typical cooler can hold as few as 4 to 18 bottles, with some models even larger. Wine fridges are larger, containing from 30 bottles upwards. Wine lovers opt for the size that fits their space and their collection.

Air-Flow and Temperature

It is important to note that although coolers may be compact, don’t be tempted to cram them under the kitchen counter. Proper airflow is still required for ventilation. Built-in coolers adjust for this and have space for airflow and heat dissipation. Temperature control is slightly different as well. Coolers use thermoelectric energy, which is very quiet and low maintenance due to the lack of moving parts. Wine fridges use compression cooling, which is more energy-efficient. This may change as technology advances, and thermoelectric energy may yet come to the fore. The only (barely) noticeable difference is a low buzzing from the fridge. The cooler is not silent because of the internal fans but is quieter than the fridge. Another advantage the fridge offers is dual-zone temperature control, whereby different wines can be stored at their optimal temperatures. Coolers are too small to consider this.

What Fits Best?

Design and size come into play when considering what you want your unit for. Fridges, being larger, can offer slide-out shelves; some have vertical storage and UV resistant or transparent doors. Coolers don’t have all the bells and whistles, but their compact size does make them very popular for those in small spaces. It is also easy to buy another cooler if your collection expands and pop it into an empty corner. A fridge needs more attention to the space it will occupy simply by size.

Decide what you want from your wine storage chilling, and realistically consider your available space. Perfectly chilled wine is within everyone’s reach. Cheers!


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