Having a high-quality wine cooler can make the difference when it comes to the long-term storage of your wine collection, which is why these appliances are so appealing to wine lovers. But did you know you can use your wine cooler as a refrigerator as well? While there are a lot of differences between refrigerators and wine coolers, there are still quite a lot of non-wine items that you can chill inside your wine cooler. If you have a cooler that is larger than your collection, this extra space can be extremely valuable! The experts at Appliances Connection are here to help you find other ways to use a wine fridge that you may not have thought about before. We’ve also included some top wine cooler picks that would be perfect for your home!
How Does a Wine Cooler Differ from a Refrigerator?
There are a few functional differences between wine refrigerators and traditional refrigerators that you should be aware of. The primary difference of note is the temperature ranges you have available. You can generally set a traditional refrigerator to temperatures between 33° F and 40° F (0° C and 4° C). This prevents bacteria and other microorganisms from growing in your food. A wine cooler, however, generally offers temperatures between 45° F and 65° F (7° C and 18° C), depending on the type of wine that you plan on storing. Because of this temperature difference, most traditional refrigerators come with an attached freezer, but almost no wine coolers do. So can a wine cooler be used as a fridge? Yes, but make sure your intended items for cold storage can be safely kept at a slightly higher temperature.
This difference in available temperatures leads to another difference between wine coolers and refrigerators. Many wine coolers come with thermoelectric refrigeration, which greatly improve their cooling efficiency and reduce wine-harming vibrations. This form of refrigeration isn't available for traditional fridges, however.
Wine coolers tend to offer a higher level of control over internal humidity, since humidity is another critical concern for the long-term storage of wine. While a traditional refrigerator may offer some humidity options, nearly all wine coolers provide fine-grained control over the level of humidity inside their cavities.
Finally, the shelving units of wine coolers are built to handle wine while minimizing vibrations. While you may have to rearrange your traditional fridge's shelving to chill wine before serving it, with a wine cooler, you can just place a wine bottle inside it and get on with preparing for your party.
What Else Can You Store in Them?
Despite not getting as cold as a traditional refrigerator, there are plenty of other uses ways to use a wine cooler. Here are just a few of them.
Some medications (especially liquid ones, such as insulin) need to be stored cooler than room temperature. However, bringing them close to freezing can do more harm than good. Make sure to check the ideal storage temperature for your chosen medications before you do it but storing them inside a wine cooler can give you the temperatures you need without worry about freezing it in case of a malfunction.
If you enjoy having a cigar with a fine wine, you'll be glad to know that many wine coolers can also serve as humidors. The best wine fridges for this use thermoelectric cooling, since one that uses a compressor may cause your cigars to dry out.
If you want to store fresh herbs from your garden (or the grocery store), you may want to put them in your wine cooler. This is ideal for herbs like cilantro or parsley. Avoid storing pungent herbs (such as mint or garlic) in a wine fridge, however, unless you want all your wine to take on the flavor of these herbs.
Especially if you live in a warmer climate, you know the hazards of storing your good chocolate at room temperature. Using a wine fridge to store chocolate keeps it from melting, even on the hottest days, and it prevents your chocolate from absorbing the flavors of the other foods in your refrigerator.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Some fruits and vegetables can be chilled to warmer temperatures than you find in a traditional refrigerator. While you obviously don't want to store onions in a wine fridge, the storage conditions inside your wine refrigerator can be perfect for apples, carrots, bananas, and pears, among many other options.
Beauty Care Products
Refrigerating some of the items you use for skin care can make them last far longer than they do when stored at room temperature. But applying fully-refrigerated creams to your face may not provide the soothing, rejuvenating experience you're looking for. The warmer temperatures of a wine cooler can give you the best of both worlds.
If you have a lot of children in the house, you know how many snacks they can go through in a day. Storing all of these in the refrigerator leads to a lot more work for your fridge's compressor. Storing certain chilled snacks (including cut fruits and vegetables, yogurts, and other temperature-sensitive items) reduces the amount of warm air that makes it into your fridge and helps keep your kids full of healthy food.
Don't think that by getting a wine cooler, you're limited to storing only wine. Many people use their wine coolers as all-around beverage centers, storing soft drinks, beer, bottled water, and all sorts of other beverages inside them. While you do not want to store milk or other perishables in a wine cooler, keeping your options open can expand your storage capacity by quite a large amount.
Our Expert Picks
Below, we’ll review some best-selling wine coolers so you can see all the features that make them so popular with consumers.
One of our favorite dual zone wine coolers is this one from Zephyr's Presrv Series. It can handle up to 45 bottles of wine, meaning that it has ample room for nearly anything you want to store inside it. The cooler even comes with Zephyr's signature PreciseTemp™ temperature controls as well as Active Cooling Technology, giving you the most control over the conditions inside your wine fridge. A built-in vibration dampening system reduces disturbances that can negatively alter the flavor of your vintages. If you’re all about presentation, 3-color LED lighting allows you to showcase your collection in Cloud White, Deep Blue and Amber lighting.
If your collection includes many different types of wine, a triple zone wine cooler may be just what you need. This 24-in. one from Dacor's Contemporary Series is one of the best. It can hold up to 100 bottles of wine at a time on 11 extension racks, and it uses dedicated humidity sensors to optimize the humidity level in each of the three temperature zones. The cooler combines superior vacuum insulation technology with a digital compressor and a SteelCool stainless steel interior to ensure that the internal temperatures stay where you set them (to within 0.3° F).
People with smaller wine collections, or who favor one type of wine above all, will generally do better with a single zone wine cooler like this 15-in. freestanding one from Whirlpool. The six fixed wire shelves have wood rack fronts, organizing and storing up to 34 bottles of your favorite wine. Its electronic temperature controls allow you to set the cavity to any temperature between 41° F and 64° F, which maximizes your storage possibilities. Whirlpool's other premium features include LED interior lighting, a field reversible door, and a stylish integrated towel bar handle.
The most spacious wine cooler on our list is this one from Kucht, but its 108-bottle capacity is far from its only draw. As a dual unit, it includes two stainless steel refrigerator drawers that are perfectly designed to hold canned beverages (up to 100 of them) or any other small items like mixers, hard seltzers, and energy drinks. The cooler's nine wooden shelves are split across two temperature zones, letting you store red and white wine in the same 24-in. footprint. It utilizes stainless steel design throughout, from the seamless door frame to the handle and kick plate. The slide-out roller enables full extension shelving, while the interior fan circulates air throughout the cavity for frost free operation. Finally, this wine and beverage cooler can be made built-in or freestanding, enhancing your installation options.
The most luxurious wine cooler on our list comes from Miele's MasterCool Series. It's also the smartest one on the list, using WiFiConn@ct technology to let you control the cooler's temperature, get door alarm warnings, and even order replacement products from your smartphone. Its sleek stainless steel exterior can hold up to 104 wine bottles in up to three different temperature zones, and thanks to the appliance's FlexiFrame technology, you even have flexible storage of large bottles. The heavy-duty MaxLoad hinges are designed to combine durability and smooth operation, and the MasterSensor TFT touch display provides unparalleled control over your wine cooler's internal conditions. Finally, the DynaCool fan (standard in all Miele MasterCool refrigerators) ensures gentle, even air circulation through the entire cavity, ensuring uniform temperatures.
This 18-in. single zone wine cooler from Summit is one of our most compact options, and it's also great for freestanding installation. Its fully digital thermostat allows you to chill up to 34 wine bottles at once, while the display is easy to read so you can quickly tell that your wine is at the temperature you expect. Its five shelves have a classic wood finish, masterfully displaying your bottles, while the glass door and stainless steel trim add to the appliance's modern appearance. The keyed lock helps you keep your collection safe from being knocked around, while the LED lights produce gentle illumination with a touch of the switch. As a final bonus, this wine cooler is even certified for commercial use, so you know you'll have a high quality item on your hands.
Does a wine cooler get as cold as a refrigerator?
Because wine needs to be stored at warmer temperatures than you find in a traditional refrigerator, wine coolers tend to be warmer than refrigerators are. This means that you shouldn't expect a wine cooler to get as cold as a fridge.
Can you put beer in a wine cooler?
Yes, you can store beer in a wine cooler! Most beer doesn't need to be chilled to very low temperatures, so a wine cooler can provide ideal storage for it.
Do wine coolers need defrosting?
Most of the time, wine coolers and beer refrigerators do not need to be defrosted. This is because they don't run at temperatures as low as traditional refrigerator/freezer units.