Wine Cooler vs Refrigerator – Does it really matter?

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Why you should never use a refrigerator to store your wine.

First of all, you have to understand that wine is a living substance and needs to be stored at a steady temperature, which is neither too hot nor too cold. Many novices in wine collecting believe that an ordinary refrigerator works just as well as a wine cooler to store wines, however, there are significant differences in which the two machines work. A wine cooler vs a refrigerator for wine storage is really no comparison at all.


Wine Cooler vs Refrigerator 3 30AUG2013You see, refrigerators are simply not designed to store wine. The typical thermostat of a refrigerator is set to keep things cold, not cool. This basically means that the thermostatic setting for your typical refrigerator is rarely above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Furthermore, many refrigerators have very inaccurate thermostats and do not have an exact temperature which you can set the ambient temperature to. Refrigerators can also be set to store things at below freezing temperatures which can basically convert them into large freezers. This is too cold for wine. If the thermostat for most refrigerators were to be set at their highest level, the motor may not kick on unless it is very hot, thus this could eventually spoil your wine. On the other hand, if you have a nice collection of vintage wines, and the temperature in the refrigerator is too cold, you can stop the slow aging process, which can affect the flavor of the wine.

How is a wine cooler different from a refrigerator?

Wine coolers are very different from refrigerators because refrigerators concentrate only on cooling and not keeping anything at a steady temperature. With a wine cooler, the thermostat is different. The typical wine cooler is more accurate than a refrigerator and the temperature is thermostatically controlled by an accurate thermostat which works similarly to the thermostat that controls your heating and air conditioning system in your home.

The thermostat in a wine cooler of high quality will not only cool the wine, but also warm it if necessary. The higher the price you pay for a wine cooler, the more accurate temperature control you have inside the unit. The thermostat of the more expensive units actually have sensors on the outside which monitor the room temperature of the area where the wine cooler is plugged in. It will keep the set temperature inside the unit by cooling it if the temperature outside the unit gets above the set temperature. Likewise if the ambient room temperature gets well below the set temperature of the wine cooler, the unit will actually heat up until it maintains the set temperature, whereas with a refrigerator, if the ambient temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will simply stop running.

What is the best temperature to store your wine collection?

Basically, wine has historically been stored in cellars which are deep underground and are surrounded in stone. Many of these cellars are carved out of limestone rock from mountainous terrain. In France, the Champagne cellars of Epernay and surrounding villages are carved out of chalk. The whole idea of a wine cooler is to mimic the natural conditions in those cellars. The typical temperature inside those cellars is usually between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and that is how you want to set the thermostat in your wine cooler.

Wine Cooler vs Refrigerator 2 30AUG2013Another thing you want to take into account is that aging wines should not be exposed to excessive light, such as sunlight or any artificial lighting which is close to the sun’s light. When you go into an old wine cellar in Georgia or Europe, you will notice that they are dark and very dimly lit where people are. Wine cannot be exposed to excessive light as it can affect the aging process. Many wine coolers are designed to be display cases for your wine collection as well, so if you have it in your work office, you may want to have it in a room where there is dim lighting or not too much sunlight. It is best to keep your wine cooler in a place with subdued light or in a cabinet with a door which you can close to keep excessive light from exposing your wine.

What is the proper storage of your wine?

Another added benefit of a wine cooler is that the racks inside are specifically designed for the proper storage of your wine bottles. The problem with a basic refrigerator is that the shelves inside it are only designed to store a mixture of food and bottles in an upright position. Good wine with cork caps should be lying down on their sides. Many wine coolers have special racks which allow you to properly store your wine bottles.


Most wine racks that come in coolers actually store the wine either horizontally or diagonally with the cork at the bottom. It is very important for the wine to touch the cork. If the cork does not touch the wine, it can dry out and begin to crumble. This can allow the wine to become corked, or have pieces of the cork float in the wine and affect the flavor. Furthermore, when you have a dry cork, it can deteriorate and begin to break apart. This can cause the airtight seal to break and allow for air to expose the wine.

Proper wine storage is key to have your wine collection last and gain value. If you cannot afford a whole cellar, you should get a good quality wine cooler which can keep your wine at the right temperature. But above all, never do the wine cooler vs refrigerator comparison again, ever.

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