Wine fridge, wine cooler, wine chiller, wine cellar – what to choose?

Before we get started talking about how to choose a wine fridge or wine chiller, it’s probably a good idea to determine what exactly it is that you’re looking for. Wine storage appliances are referred to variously as wine fridges or refrigerators, wine chillers, wine coolers, portable wine cellars, even just mini-fridges. There are no clear guidelines for what they should be called, but for purposes of discussion, we’ll refer to them as follows:

A wine fridge usually refers to a refrigerator, like your kitchen refrigerator, but specifically made for storing wine. These special-purpose refrigerators are more commonly referred to as wine coolers or even portable wine cellars (the “portable” referring more to their being self-contained than to their being all that portable, in some cases).

A wine fridge usually has precise temperature settings, possibly a humidity control, built-in wire shelves specifically for wine bottles, and maybe a glass front. It may hold anywhere from 12 to well over 100 bottles, and may offer separate zones for white and red wines. We’ve put together quick pick recommendations for wine fridges/wine coolers, to help you make a choice quickly. We also have a collection of more detailed reviews of wine fridges/wine coolers, organized by bottle capacity, if you’d like more in-depth information.

A wine chiller is usually a small, tabletop device for chilling a bottle or two of wine before serving. Generally, they’re not intended for use for any longer than a few hours up to a few days. For longer term storage, a wine cooler/wine fridge or wine cellar is needed.

A wine cellar is generally an actual cellar, with or without a cooling unit and humidity control. Sometimes, wine coolers are called wine cellars, but that’s generally more of a marketing term. Wine cellars are really not self-contained appliances, but rather custom built storage areas in a home. We don’t discuss them much on this site at this site, since we’re focused on wine cooler applicances, specifically.

A wine cabinet is generally a fancier wine cooler (or wine refrigerator), considerably larger and more decorative than the more functional wine cooler. They can be very elaborate home furnishings, and can be quite expensive. We will review them in the future, but for now are focused more on more functional, moderately sized and priced wine coolers.

A great place to start looking for your wine cooler or wine fridge is in our Wine Cooler Buyer’s Guide.

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