There are few luxuries in life quite like a good bottle of wine at the end of a long day, or to lighten one’s spirits at a weekend brunch. When you pour yourself a nice glass of red or a lovely flute of sparkling white, you are partaking in a global culture and history. Wine is as much a universal part of life as eating and socializing.
While societies and cultures in nearly every country partake in this age old drink, all too few pay attention to the proper care and storage of their wine to ensure the best flavor — either leaving the bottles out at room temperature or storing them in a fridge that is too cold and mutes the subtle flavor notes of the grapes.
This is where freestanding wine cellars come in. Also called a wine fridge, these appliances are specially designed to keep your wine at the perfect temperature so you can enjoy your adult beverage to the fullest.
- Ivation 18-Bottle Compressor Wine Refrigerator (Best Overall)
- hOmelabs 18-Bottle Wine Cooler (Second Best Overall)
- Antarctic Star 1.6c.u.ft Mini Wine Cooler (Best Value)
- BOSSIN 24-Bottle Wine Cooler (Best Compressor Wine Cellar)
- NutriChef 15-Bottle Wine Fridge (Best Compact)
- Kalamera 15″ 30-Bottle Wine Cooler (Best Single-Zone)
- Wine Enthusiast Classic 200-Bottle Wine Cellar (Best Large-Capacity)
Why Buy a Wine Cellar?
Unless you can afford to own a house with a dedicated space for wine, either a built-in basement wine cellar or wine cave, odds are that you have been keeping your wine bottles out in the open where it is often too warm or in a normal food fridge where it can be too cold. Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, the reality is that your wine should be stored somewhere in the middle.
In addition to storage temperature, there are a few other storage factors that wine cellars will help you achieve such as temperature consistency and light mitigation.
Wine cellars help accomplish both optimal storage and optimal drinking temperatures. According to professional sommeliers at Wine Enthusiast, all wines, regardless of type, should be stored between 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-59 degrees Fahrenheit). If you plan to store the wine for longer than six months, then you will want to store your wine at slightly colder temperatures to slow down aging and prevent spoilage.
On the other side of the spectrum, storing your wine in anything below these optimal temperatures can dull tasting notes as flavor compounds get muted. Additionally, there is a chance that the cold, dry environment that fridges provide can dry out the cork — letting air into the bottle and spoiling the wine.
Equally as important as achieving the proper storage temperature is maintaining temperature consistency. If your home undergoes temperature fluctuations—cooling off at night and heating up during the day—then those flavor compounds in the liquid could be at risk of damage, as well, as the wine fluid and the cork both expand and contract during temperature variations.
Ever wonder why wines are often stored in dark colored bottles? This is because sunlight and ultraviolet rays can alter and damage the chemical compounds in wine just as much as improper temperature storage. Colored bottles help prevent this degradation, but keeping wine in a place away from any direct sunlight will help as well.
A good wine cellar easily meets all of these conditions at an affordable price — providing a controlled and consistent environment for both short and long term bottle storage.
Buying Guide: What to Look For in a Wine Cellar
According to Wine Spectator, some of the most important factors to think about when looking for a wine cellar are size, storage method (vertical or flat), ease of access, and multiple storage zones.
When considering size, it is important to think about what types of wine you generally drink. Bottles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Champagne bottles take up more space than your typical red and may not fit in some cellars. Additionally, if you buy wines by the case or more, you will want to make sure your cellar can fit them all.
If you plan to drink wine on a regular basis, make sure the cellar provides easy access to open and close. Some cellars will take more effort to open and will have multiple latches, or even locks, because they are designed for long term storage, while other cellars provide regular, easy access much like a fridge door.
When it comes to storage method, does the cooler have racks for horizontal storage? This is the preferred method of storing wine because it helps prevent the cork from drying out and is typically more space efficient. However, if you plan to store bottles that have been opened and resealed or bottles with caps, then horizontal storage may result in leaks. A cellar that provides storage for both may be most practical if you plan on storing unfinished bottles.
Lastly, if you enjoy both reds and whites, or want to have both long and short term storage options, then multiple “zones” may be useful. However, this is not a feature you will find in most personal use cellars and all of the ones listed below are single zone. Multi-zone cellars do exist, though, and will let you store some bottles at colder temperatures than others. This is especially useful since many people enjoy whites slightly more chilled. With a multi-zone cellar, you can have your whites at the lower end of the safe temperature window (10C or 50F) while keeping your reds on the warmer end (15C or 59F).
With those things in mind, let’s look at the best wine cellars on the market today.
Best Overall – Ivation 18-Bottle Compressor Wine Refrigerator
With a UV resistant glass door, stylish lighting, easy access, and multiple storage options, the Ivation 18-Bottle Wine Cooler is the best all around wine cellar for every need. It can hold 18 bottles in both horizontal and vertical position options with removable racks to suit whatever your needs may be and even includes a lock. While it holds only one temperature zone, the easy touch controls let you choose temps anywhere within the optimal range plus a few extra degrees above or below for special cases. At USD207, the Ivation provides great value.
Second Best Overall – hOmelabs 18-Bottle Wine Cooler
Slightly more expensive at USD229, the hOmelabs wine cooler provides the added feature of slide out racks to make accessing wine bottles even simpler than the Ivation. While it also holds 18 bottles of wine, it only allows for horizontal storage and lacks a locking UV resistant glass door. The temperature ranges from 12-17 Celsius (54-64 Fahrenheit) making it slightly more ideal for reds than whites, if you prefer the latter chilled. The hOmelab is also definitely a short term storage solution as you will not be able to cool bottles down enough for the long term.
Best Value – Antarctic Star 1.6c.u.ft Mini Wine Cooler
Wine does not have to be an expensive hobby or a luxury good, and the Antarctic Star proves it by being the only wine cellar on the list for under USD200. On the smaller end, this cellar still provides many of the necessary functions for a good storage option. The shelves are adjustable to provide for both vertical and horizontal storage.The glass door is double-walled to help maintain steady temperature and block damaging light. The Antarctic Star may not be as feature-filled as higher end products, but it still gets the job done at a reasonable price.
Best Compressor Wine Cellar – BOSSIN 24-Bottle Wine Cooler
Like regular fridges, many wine-cellars use a compressor to maintain cold temperatures. Low-end compressors, however, can sometimes generate vibrations that disturb the wine and stir up sediment.
The BOSSIN cellar has a compressor that is both quiet and still so neither you nor your wine will ever be disturbed by its cooling. Holding 24 bottles in both vertical and horizontal options with removable shelves and a locking door that blocks UV light, this single zone cellar will meet all your basic wine needs with a wide temperature range of 4-16 Celsius (39-61 Fahrenheit) at USD220.
Best Compact – NutriChef 15-Bottle Wine Fridge
The NutriChef is another fully featured cellar with a wide temperature control range of 5-18 Celsius (41-64 Fahrenheit). The real value comes in the form of its size efficiency, however, as it can hold 15 bottles in both horizontal and vertical options all in a space less than three feet tall and barely over a foot wide. This small appliance still has all the standard features you’d want in a wine cellar at a price of USD298.
Best Single-Zone – Kalamera 15″ 30-Bottle Wine Cooler
All of the cellars discussed have been single-zone cellars, but this cellar exceeds expectations in the single zone category with a price tag to match.
The Kalamera can hold an impressive 30 wine bottles and it does so with style. Its polished stainless steel front construction provides a lovely frame for the sliding beech wood shelves. This is a stylish departure from other cellars that typically use wire chrome shelving. The Kalamera is definitely designed to show off your wines while still providing all the features you’d expect from a quality wine cellar, but the price tag comes in at a hefty USD600 – 800 depending which seller you choose. However, this price is worth it for the design and styling if you want an appliance that looks as sophisticated as your taste in wine.
Best Large-Capacity – Wine Enthusiast Classic 200-Bottle Wine Cellar
Lastly, let’s discuss a cellar for those who like to store large amounts of wine for the long term. At USD1,899, the Wine Enthusiast cellar is the size of a full food fridge with an impressive 200-bottle capacity. The sleek, black design with blue accent LED lights and wood trimmed wire shelves make this cellar comparable in style to the Kalamera while still providing both horizontal and vertical storage options. For those with a serious thirst or a desire to collect bottles, it will be hard to run out of space with this cellar.
Wine Cellar FAQs
1) Do I have to store my whites and reds at different temperatures?
No, this is a common misconception. This is because whites are generally consumed at lower temperatures and therefore are often stored at those cooler temps. However, you can safely store all types of wine at the same temperature and then move the white wine into a cold fridge for just a few minutes before drinking to obtain the desired chill.
2) Will the lights inside the cellar damage the wine?
No, wine cellars typically use blue LED lights specifically because this type of light does not generate UV rays that can damage wine.
3) Will a wine cellar be too dry or humid for my wine?
While humidity is a factor in preserving wine, most environments fall within safe limits for wine. Wine cellars often do not include a humidity control option, but as long as your cellar is stored inside your house, humidity should not be an issue. If you live in an extremely dry climate and are concerned about corks drying out, then it sometimes helps to place a small bowl of water with the wine to prevent too dry of an environment. Excessive humidity is not an issue as long as the wine bottles are sealed properly.
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