Wine Coolers – How to Choose the Right One for Your Needs and Budget

A wine cooler is a refrigeration unit installed either over or under a counter top or by itself in a kitchen or bar area of a home. Wine coolers provide a temperature and humidity controlled environment in which to store your wine collection. There are many types and brands at varying price levels on the market today. But simply buying the least expensive cooler with the capacity you need is not usually the best approach. There are many other factors which must be considered.

Factors to Consider

Capacity (Bottle Count)

Bottle capacity may be the most important factor in selecting a wine cooler. You will want to make sure your wine cooler is big enough for the wine you are going to collect. If you’re simply buying a case or two of wine to consume over the next couple months, a 24 bottle cooler may seem sufficient. But wine collections have a tendency to expand, so it is a good idea to allow for growth in your estimate. Many people who have purchased wine coolers wished they had double or even tripled their estimates. Surplus bottles tend to accumulate in the same area of the home but under less ideal conditions. If you are a true connoisseur and wish to age some wine for several years you will need a considerably larger unit to hold all of your aging wine, along with your regular supply for daily consumption. Again it is a good idea to at least double your estimate.

Temperature Zones mccoy cooler

In addition to size considerations, you also have the choice between single, dual or three temperature zone coolers. The first zone is for storing light and red wines, the second for chilling white wines, and the third for chilling sparkling wines. The most popular of these are the dual zones coolers, with separate and independently controlled temperature zones: one for red wines and one for white. If you are an amateur, choose a wine cooler with preset temperature controls.

Types of Shelving

Basic less expensive units come with chromed wire shelving, sometimes adjustable sometimes not. Higher quality wine coolers use vinyl coated wire shelving, sturdier wood shelves or wood framed grids. Since wine bottles come in varying shapes and sizes it’s a good idea to choose a cooler with adjustable shelves if you plan on storing any larger sized bottles.

Some wine coolers now come with slide-out, glide-out or rollout shelving. These are great for reaching a bottle without unduly disturbing its neighbor and for cleaning.


Do you have excessive light in the area you wish to use? Then you may want to consider using a solid or UV tinted door wine cooler. Many units feature glass doors to add visual appeal to the appliance. However glass doors may actually be harmful to your wine, because they let in light which can damage wine. Also, glass doors may not insulate as well a solid door increasing temperature fluctuations and energy costs. If you choose a glass door at least check that it has UV shielding and is double paned. Many glass door coolers also feature internal “mood lighting”. It is a good idea to turn off the light as it is a source of heat and light which are both harmful to wine.

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