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How to Choose the Best Wine Fridge

How to Choose the Best Wine Fridge

Storing wine properly can be a tricky business, but a specialized wine fridge makes it much easier. Understanding the basics of wine storage and what makes these units different will help you choose the best wine fridge and get the most out of your supply of wine.

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What You Need to Know About Storing Wine

There are several key things to know when storing your reserves of fine wine. A separate wine fridge will help you properly store your wine to account for all these important factors.

1. Store bottles on their sides

2. Keep wine at proper, steady temperatures

3. Ensure proper humidity

4. Limit exposure to light

5. Avoid vibration and movement

For more tips on how to store wine properly and to find out what temperature ranges are best for each type of wine you will serve, check out our full article on wine storage tips.

What Makes a Wine Fridge Different from a Standard Refrigerator?

A separate cooler for your wines may seem like an unnecessary investment, but the truth is that standard refrigerators can harm your wines during storage. A wine cooler fridge on the other hand protects your wine collection and lets it mature at the proper rate.

AvaValley single temperature wine merchandiser refrigerator with bottles of white wine


Standard refrigerators bring food and beverages down to below 41 degrees Fahrenheit quickly, but wine refrigerators cool bottles more gently. To store wine properly, wine refrigerators also hold slightly higher temperatures as low as 40 and as high as 65 degrees Fahrenheit.


Wine refrigerators are designed to maintain proper humidity so that corks do not dry out and bottle labels do not become damaged. While standard refrigerators use dry air, wine refrigerators keep the air between 50 and 80 percent humidity.


Too much movement can harm your wine. Standard refrigerators tend to use refrigeration systems that cause a lot of vibrations as the compressors cycle on and off. Wine refrigerators are available with thermoelectric cooling systems or special anti-vibration systems to eliminate this problem.

How to Choose a Wine Refrigerator

Looking to add a new wine fridge to your restaurant, bar, tasting room, or event venue? Finding the right one isn't hard. There are just a few questions to ask yourself as you shop.

How Much Are You Storing & For How Long?

The amount of wine you are storing is obviously going to affect your choice. Different refrigerators have different capacities and types of shelving that affect how much wine they can hold. Something else that will affect the type of cooler you need is the length of time you will be storing the wine. If you will be storing a lot of wine or keeping bottles for long periods of time, you may want to consider building a complete wine cellar rather than relying on a series of smaller wine fridges.

  • Bottle Capacity: Wine fridges are available with capacities ranging from just a dozen bottles to nearly 300 bottles. When deciding on one for your business, think about how much capacity you need now and be sure to leave some room for your business to grow over the next several years.
  • Type of Shelving: Some types of wine coolers are designed to hold bottles horizontally while others are not. When you are choosing your wine fridge, keep in mind that bottles with natural corks should be stored horizontally if they're going to be kept for long periods of time. If your preferred vintages typically have metal caps or rubber corks this is not as important.

What Types of Wines Are You Storing?

Different types of wine have different ideal storage temperatures. Because of this, you'll want to make sure the unit you buy will accommodate the types of wine you serve.

Wine not a huge part of your business? If you only serve a small selection of wines or your business keeps just a few bottles on hand, 55 degrees Fahrenheit will work for most types of wine if the temperature stays consistent.

  • Number of Zones: Decide whether you need the versatility of multiple zones, or the consistency of a single-zone unit.
  • Temperature Range: Make sure that the temperature range of the unit you pick will suit your wine reserves.
  • Type of Cooling System: Some high-end wine coolers use quiet thermoelectric cooling systems that cool the cabinet without vibrations. Most units will use a refrigeration system with a compressor. The type you choose will depend on the investment you are willing to make and the amount of ambient noise you can tolerate.

Where Are You Storing Your Wine?

Like any other cooling unit, your wine fridge should always be placed on a stable hard surface away from direct sunlight and other large equipment that may cause vibrations or heat. Beyond that, your decisions about whether your wine fridge will be installed in a front of the house area vs. in a storage area will affect the type of unit you need.

  • Freestanding vs. Built-In: Some models can be built into countertops to be used behind the bar, but others can stand on their own in bar areas or retail spaces.
  • Wine Merchandisers: Looking to show off your favorite vintages or offer bottles from local wineries? Wine merchandisers are made to give customers a clear view while keeping your supply safe and chilled. They're a great choice for customer-facing areas in markets, retail shops, restaurants, and sometimes even tasting rooms.
  • Door Styles: If you choose a unit with glass doors, look for multiple panes for insulation and light filtering characteristics to protect your supply from UV rays. Also, you may need door locks to keep your wines safe in customer areas or during off hours.
  • LED Lighting: Energy efficient LED lighting is a great feature for wine coolers, especially if you wish to merchandise bottles in customer areas. LEDs are bright but cool and less likely to damage your stock. Plus, blue lights are available in some models to provide classy ambiance.
  • Aesthetics: If you want to place a cooler in the front of the house where customers can see it, choose a unit that will look nice in your bar, restaurant, or tasting room. Different styles are available with sleek door frames and finishes that will blend right in with your decor.
Dual temp AvaValley undercounter wine refrigerator with blue LED lighting

Dual-Zone Wine Fridges

If you are looking to store more than one type of wine, a dual-zone unit might be just what you're looking for!

Do I Need a Dual-Zone Wine Fridge?

The interior of a dual-zone wine cooler is separated into two compartments that can be controlled independently. This means you can control the temperature and humidity in each compartment separately. Store reds in one compartment and whites in the other. If your wine list covers a variety of vintages and types of wines, or higher quality wines, then you may need the versatility of dual-zone units. 

Benefits of a Single-Zone Wine Fridge

Should you only need to store a small number of bottles or primarily serve a single type of wine you may not need multiple zones. A single-zone wine fridge can often work for different types of wine if it maintains a consistent 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A single-zone unit can be less expensive, too.

Bartender installing a new keg into a double tap stainless steel wine dispenser

Benefits of Draft Wine Dispensers

Draft wine dispensers or wine on tap dispensers look and work like beer dispensers but are modified for use with wine. They utilize refrigeration systems that can hold temperatures more appropriate to wine, and all line and tap components are designed to handle the acidity of wine.

If you are serving large amounts of wine and need to maintain a high quality product while pouring quickly, wine dispensers might be a good choice for you. They are ideal for large event venues or stadiums, and can even be great for wine festivals or wineries.

  • Faster service
  • Wine in kegs is protected from oxidation and temperature fluctuations for extended freshness
  • Reduce waste compared to bottle service
  • Pour any sized glass, even samples
  • Systems can be expensive
  • Greater maintenance and cleaning needs
  • May eliminate parts of the experience customers enjoy

How Long Does Wine Last in the Fridge?

After a bottle of wine has been opened, it can typically last between 2 to 5 days depending on the type of wine and how you store it. Using a good stopper can make a big difference.

Remember that the purpose of using a wine fridge in the first place is to protect the profile of the wine by preventing oxidation, exposure to light, and rapid changes in temperature. After you have gone to the trouble of storing your wine properly prior to opening the bottle, use these wine service accessories to keep it fresher longer after the cork has been pulled.

Black Coravin wine preservation system

Wine Preservation Systems

  • Uses a needle to penetrate cork and inject gas to prevent oxidation
  • Extends life of the bottle without diminishing the taste of the wine

Stainless steel Franmara vacuum pump wine saver with two black stoppers

Vacuum Stopper Systems

  • Removes oxygen from bottle with special stoppers and a vacuum pump
  • Reduces wine's contact with air to prolong its shelf life

Black and chrome tapered wine bottle stopper with flexible seal

Reusable Wine Stoppers

  • Seals the top of a wine bottle without needing the original cork
  • Allows you to keep wine for a few days after it's opened

Stainless steel Tablecraft champagne stopper

Champagne Stoppers

  • Prevents pressure from building up in champagne bottles
  • Grips the neck of the bottle to keep it from dislodging by escaping gas

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