For those who don’t have a wine cellar, a small wine fridge is the next best thing.
Wines are delicate beverages. The older the wine gets, the more picky its storage requirements become. There’s a reason why cellars are ideal storage places. They’re dark, silent, cool and humid; all of which are essential in preserving wine quality.
The wine easily deteriorates with exposure to light, vibration and temperature variation. This is the reason why a standard refrigeration unit won’t work. The fridge is too cold, dry and prone to vibration due to its compressor cooler.
Wines require a temperature of around 55°F (with a range of 50°F to 58°F still acceptable) but the refrigerator's standard temperature is 38 degrees. This slows down the wine’s aging process to a point where the quality deteriorates. A regular fridge (or even a mini fridge) doesn’t have the right humidity either which causes corks to shrink and break their seal. And with all that jostling around when getting foodstuff from the fridge, the wine is going to be agitated frequently.
That’s why some people will store their wine around the house. But with climate change and all, house temperatures tend to be warmer now, somewhere in the range of 60°F to 65°F. A dark closet isn't ideal either. If the air conditioning breaks down, the temperature inside the closet can rise up, accelerating the fermentation process. And you don’t want your wine to taste like vinegar.
That’s why a small wine fridge is important for a regular wine drinker. Not everybody can have a wine cellar and nor should you, unless you plan to age wines over a number of years. When you all you need is a place to store wines for a period of weeks or months where they won’t go stale or sour, a wine fridge comes in really handy.
Wine refs come in different shapes and sizes in the market. The best ones are those compact ones that are designed to fit small spaces because they’re space savers. Most are actually designed to fit inside a standard base cabinet of 15 inches, although there are also models with have slimmer, narrow profiles that are best for standing in a corner.
When measuring their capacities, manufacturers tend to use a standard Bourdeaux-style bottle as a reference. Small wine fridges come in 8, 16, 24, and 28 bottle capacities. They can also be used to store beer and soda cans; removable racks often allow versatility in the contents that can be stored.
Like mini-fridges, they come in thermo-electric or compressor types. The compressor wine refs generally come with circulation fans to help take the load off from the compressor. This reduces the vibration and noise in the interior. The thermoelectric ones are really quiet and are, according to manufacturers, more energy efficient.
IMHO though, both types are equally efficient in storing wine. In this list, I’ve included both types because they offer precise temperature control which is really what getting a wine fridge is all about. Here are my top five picks.
The Best Small Wine Fridges
- Freestanding Compact Mini Wine Fridge
- Antarctic Star Wine Cooler
- Aobosi 15 Inch Wine Cooler
- Cuisinart 18-Bottle Private Reserve Cellar
- Koolatron Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
1. Freestanding Compact Mini Wine Fridge
This 12-bottle wine fridge is designed for the countertop, floor, or table placement. It has interior LED lights, a reinforced glass door with an airtight seal, and an integrated door handle.
It’s cooled by a built-in compressor cooling system that keeps your wine at the right temperature without being noisy. The temperature ranges from 41°F – 64°F. It also has a circulation fan and ventilation grill to help keep the temperature stable all over the interior.
It has a digital soft-touch button panel that allows to easily adjust the temperature settings for Celsius or Farhenheit. As a safety feature, it comes with a Button-Activated Child Safety Auto-Lock Function.
This wine fridge is backed with a 1-year warranty.
- UV protected glass door
- Interior lighting
- Does not have a reversible door
- Needs enough ventilation for the temperature settings to work properly
2. Antarctic Star Wine Cooler
This free standing wine fridge will hold 10 wine bottles via horizontal racking. Champagne or beer can be stored in the shelves. It has soft LED interior lighting,a reinforced dual-pane glass door with air tight seal, movable stainless steel shelves and adjustable leveling legs.
It uses a compressor cooler to bring down the temperature. The control panel is located on the exterior so you don’t have to open the fridge to change the temperature. It has a range of 40°F- 61°F, but you can customize the temp for your specific needs.
There is an interior fan that helps circulate the cold air. The manufacturer calls it a three-dimensional air-cooling cycle system to ensure that each corner of fridge maintains a constant temperature of ±1 °C.
This model comes with 1-year warranty.
- Can be occasionally used to store food
- Reliable after sales customer support
- No drip tray
- Not frost-free
3. Aobosi 15 Inch Wine Cooler
This 28-bottle wine fridge comes with a stainless steel frame, interior LED lights, and a double tempered glass door. It generally fits a standard-sized Bordeaux bottle. The shelves are removable to allow it to accommodate larger bottles of wine like champagne.
This is a dual zone model to accommodate the temperature preferences of a variety of wines. The upper zone has a temperature range of 41-54°F while the lower zone has 54-68°F. You can customize each of the zone’s temperature through the control panel. It has also been upgraded to include a temperature memory function which allows the unit to restore the set temperature after it’s back from a blackout.
It uses high quality compressors to ensure a stable performance while running quietly. It has a low operating noise of 42DB. There is an interior fan that helps circulate the airflow evenly.
As a security feature, it is equipped with a Lock Screen Function. If the digital panel is not used for 3 minutes, it will automatically lock down. There’s also a manual safety lock to prevent kids from opening the door frequently.
This model comes with 1-year warranty.
- LED light can be set to turn on for 10 mins
- Some find the volume level of the compressor too loud
- Some concerns about aftersales warranty support
4. Cuisinart 18-Bottle Private Reserve Cellar
This wine fridge uses a thermoelectric cooling system so it’s quieter and energy efficient. It has 9 contoured chrome racks that can hold 750ml or 1500ml bottles. It also comes with a double-pane viewing window and soft blue interior LED lighting.
Its slim, rectangular profile makes it ideal for narrow spaces and tight corners. It has a natural wood shelving and stainless steel trim that makes it stylish for a variety of home interior styles.
Its temperature ranges from 39°F to 68°F. The touchscreen controls are located on the door to make it easy to change the settings.
For added stability, this unit is equipped with adjustable feet. Manufacturer guarantees a limited 3-year warranty.
- Shelves are pull-out by design; this will pull the bottles forward by an inch so you will have to push them back again when closing the fridge
- The rectangular shape makes it impossible to tuck this under a table or cubicle
5. Koolatron Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
This countertop unit can accommodate 20 standard-sized wine bottles but its five shelves can be removed to fit large or irregularly sized bottles. It comes with tempered mirror glass doors, soft interior lighting, and a dark interior to protect the wine from damaging UV rays.
This wine fridge uses a larger capacity dual thermoelectric unit for optimal cooling. Its temperature ranges from 46°F to 66°F (8°C to 18°C). It has digital touch controls and an LED display that allows you to adjust the temperature levels.
- Frost free
- One user commented that this makes no noise at all.
Buyers Guide to Picking the Right Small Wine Fridge
ThermoElectric or Compressor Cooling
The improvements to modern cooling technology has generally resulted to more energy-efficient thermoelectric and compressory coolers. The advantage of a thermo-electric comes from the fact that it’s quiet and it doesn’t use refrigerant which makes it eco-friendly.
Compressor units, however, generally last longer so you don’t need to replace them frequently. If you replace the defective parts, they usually last 8-10 years, if not more. A high quality compressor is also quieter than the low-end ones.
Dual Temperature or Single Temperature
If you plan to store two kinds of wine with different temperature requirements, then a dual temperature wine fridge should appeal to you. Some brands will allow you to set specific temperatures for both zones; others will just have two types of temperature ranges.
A single temperature wine fridge is less fussy to maintain, though. Pick one that has adjustable temperatures instead of just 55°F.
Where do you plan to place it? Some rectangular sizes are not fit for an RV or a boat. If you plan to store the fridge in a cabinet, be sure to check its height and width clearance requirements to ensure proper ventilation of the unit.
Does it have glass doors? Does it come in dual or triple panes? Is it UV shielded? A transparent door will eliminate the need for interior LED light but some will still prefer interior lighting for aesthetic value.
Are the racks designed for holding wine bottles? Horizontal stainless steel racks that mold to the bottle are the best because it prevents the rolling of bottles especially when the fridge is in a moving vehicle. Removable racks are a standard feature in wine fridges to give you more versatility in how to store your drinks.
Take note of other special features, like child locks for safety or a temperature memory function for turning the fridge back on into its specific temperature setting after a blackout. Some have adjustable feet so that it can be made level even on a slope.
A warranty is important for an appliance like this because there's always the risk of damage during shipping or installation. A 1-year warranty will suffice. The best ones will extend the manufacturer’s warranty to shipping damage.
Find also a brand that has reliable after-sales customer service. Most problems arise when the unit is fairly new because users haven’t fully understood how to use and install it properly. A prompt and friendly customer agent will take the stress off from dealing with all of that.