What’s the difference between wine coolers and wine cellars? Does it matter?

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There’s a big difference between wine coolers and wine cellars.

Aging Your Wine

Wine cellars and freestanding humidity controlled wine cabinets are designed to maintain optimal conditions for proper wine storage and aging. These conditions include a cool temperature that doesn’t fluctuate, humidity in the range of 50-70%, clean air, darkness and minimal vibration.

By contrast, most under-the-counter wine coolers are designed to maintain wine at a desired serving temperature. Their cooling systems do not maintain constant temperatures within a tight range or manage humidity levels. They often have clear glass windows and cause too much vibration for long term storage and aging.

The differences described above don’t really matter if you’ll be drinking your wine within a year or two.

Temperature Control

Wine cellars and cabinets depend on refrigeration systems that are easily accessed. The cooling unit can be removed during maintenance or when it needs to be replaced. Wine coolers have built-in refrigeration systems that require the entire wine cooler to be replaced, which is less sustainable than using a separate cooling unit.

Racking Options

Wine coolers usually include metal racking for standard Bordeaux-size wine bottles. Wine cabinets offer wood universal racking that can fit Burgundy and Champagne bottle sizes. Some cabinets offer bulk storage space that is a flexible area for storing unusual bottles.

If you want to buy and store bottles for several years, you’ll need to create proper storage and aging conditions so that your your wine can age and achieve its full potential, which will mean purchasing a wine cabinet or building a wine cellar.