What is a Wine Cooler?

What if you could have perfectly-chilled wine on demand?

No, we don’t have those cool replicators from Star Trek just yet. But wine lovers have the next best thing: wine coolers.

This is the perfect accessory for any wine aficionado. However, many people are stuck with a simple question: “just what is a wine cooler?”

If you’re wondering what these coolers are and how they will transform your wine experience, keep reading for our complete guide!

What Is a Wine Cooler?

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to what wine coolers are and why you need one in your home. And we’re kicking things off by describing what “wine cooler” actually means.

In most cases, “wine cooler” refers to a special kind of wine refrigerator. We say “special” because these coolers cannot store food. Instead, they are only designed to keep your wine cool.

Many wine drinkers love these coolers because they are a time-saver. If you want wine, you can pour a chilled glass right away. No waiting on your favorite bottle to cool down!

So, the modern definition of “wine cooler” is easy enough to understand. However, many people have been confused over the years because “wine cooler” can refer to many different things.

A Wine Cooler By Any Other Name?

For some drinkers, “wine cooler” doesn’t refer to a “cooler” at all. Instead, it refers to a special kind of drink. Such a drink typically combines wine, fruit juice, and carbonation into a tasty beverage.

Over the pond, the British may refer to buckets of ice as “wine coolers.” These buckets (sometimes simply called “wine buckets”) contain your bottle and cool it down until you’re ready to start pouring.

To make things even more confusing, “wine coolers” may be called “wine refrigerators” within major restaurants. This is to differentiate the refrigerator element from the fruity drinks or ice-filled buckets.

However, we prefer to simply call these kinds of refrigerators “wine coolers.” And they are not the only way for you to chill your wine.

Low-Tech vs. High-Tech

When it comes to chilling wine, a wine cooler is a relatively high-tech solution. However, there are other solutions you can explore.

The most low-tech solution that we have already mentioned is to simply place the wine in a bucket of ice. This solution is portable and works even when you are on the go, but it’s not the most convenient or consistent for keeping your wine at an exact temperature.

Another solution is to use what is known as a sleeve wine cooler. This is a gel-filled sleeve that you cool in the freezer and then wrap around the wine you wish to cool. This solution works well for drinking around your home, but it requires prep time and, again, won’t keep your wine at a steady temperature. 

Finally, you can always place wine in your refrigerator (see our notes below). This is definitely the cheapest “high-tech” option, but it lacks the versatility of a dedicated cooler.

Each of these solutions works well for someone on a thrifty budget. But these solutions take extra time, extra space, and they fail to keep your wine at an exact temperature

Why Not Use a Fridge?

As we said before, wine coolers are sometimes referred to as “wine refrigerators.” This naturally begs the question: why not just store the wine in your existing fridge?

Well, first of all, it takes up room. If you’re getting ready to entertain a large group or throw a party, you may have to make some serious space inside the refrigerator.

Secondly, the best temperature for your wine may not be the best temperature for your food. So, you must choose between keeping your food or your wine at the proper temperature.

Finally, refrigerators are not very portable. If you want a wine cooler somewhere other than the kitchen, you need something more than a regular fridge.

Are All Wine Coolers the Same?

So, you’ve decided to get a wine cooler to keep your bottles chilled. The next question is simple: are all wine coolers the same?

When it comes to wine cooling technology, you have two basic options. There are compressor coolers and there are thermoelectric coolers.

Compressor coolers work similarly to your existing refrigerator. Thanks to a compressor coil, your wine stays at a fixed temperature regardless of what the external temperatures are.

Thermoelectric coolers rely on specialized fans to keep the bottles cold. However, these models struggle to keep bottles cool in warmer climates.

Generally speaking, each type of cooler works well for your intended purposes. Compressor coolers are arguably more effective, but the units are a bit louder. Thermoelectric coolers are much quieter but they don’t deal well with heat. 

Will It Fit In My House?

Earlier, we mentioned how a dedicated wine cooler is more portable than a refrigerator. With this knowledge, you’re probably curious as to how much space a wine cooler takes up.

The honest answer is: it depends. You can buy countertop units that take up no more space than a microwave. And you can buy large, dual-zone coolers (more on this in a moment) that rival the size of a traditional refrigerator.

Ultimately, this is good news for wine lovers. It means there is a size and style of wine cooler out there for every home!

How Much Wine Are You Drinking?

You’ll need to figure out whether you want a single zone or dual-zone wine cooler. And the answer comes down to “how much wine are you drinking around the same time?”

A single zone cooler only has one “zone” of temperature. That means it is uniquely designed to cool a single type of wine to your desired temperature.

A dual-zone cooler has two zones of temperature. This means you can store two different types of wine at two different temperatures. This can be a good way to chill, store and enjoy truly valuable wine.

The exact choice you make will likely come down to available space, available budget, and the size of your wine collection. 

The Bottom Line

Now you know the answer to “what is a wine cooler?” But do you know who can help you get the most out of each sip?

We specialize in helping wine lovers find the best wine coolers. To see how we can help your experience, visit The Best Wine Cellars homepage for a list of best options!