Our mission is to help you find a thermoelectric wine cooler that best suits your needs. We hope by having a resource such as this website, with detailed information compiled in one place, it will allow you to make a more informed purchase decision when shopping for a thermoelectric wine cooler.
Sit back and relax with a glass of your favorite wine, browse our site and see what we have to say about thermoelectric wine coolers. Perhaps your next glass of wine will be that much better once you serve a bottle from your new thermoelectric wine cooler.
What is a Wine Cooler?
First off a little clarification to be sure we are on the same page. You will sometimes hear the terms wine cooler, wine chiller, wine fridge and wine refrigerator to name just a few. For the most part, these terms are interchangeable and are referring to the same thing, an appliance designed to properly store and serve wine. We’ve chosen to use the term wine cooler throughout our site but just as easily could have used wine chiller, wine fridge or wine refrigerator.
It’s easy to see how many people may view a wine cooler as just another refrigerator, but that’s not the case. That’s one of the reasons for this site, to help educate on the benefits of the best wine coolers when compared to a typical refrigerator.
Wine coolers are appliances designed specifically with wine storage in mind, unlike refrigerators which serve an entirely different purpose. In reality, most traditional kitchen refrigerators tend to work against storing wine properly.
Wine coolers are purposely designed and manufactured to address issues such as temperature setting and temperature stability, humidity, lighting, ventilation, and vibration.
Do I Need a Wine Cooler?
Before you start deciding which cooler to purchase perhaps, you are still wondering if you need a wine cooler. A fair question.
Why not just do what so many people have done for years, store white wines in the refrigerator and store red wines at room temperature, right?
It has been a long-standing myth that serving white wines chilled from your refrigerator and red wines from your wine rack or kitchen cabinet at room temperature were the proper way to serve wines when in fact neither of these concepts is correct. Most people serve white wine too cold and red wines too warm.
In truth, you will get varying opinions when you ask these questions.
Best temperature for white wine?
The best temperature for red wine?
In reality, the question of does I need a wine cooler goes way beyond the answer to the best temperature for serving wine.
Whether or not you need a wine cooler also begs the question of how you are storing your wines. Wine storage plays an important part in preserving the subtle flavor nuance and aroma when a good wine is served. Improper wine storage can do enough damage that it doesn’t matter what temperature you serve the wine at, it will still not be at its very best.
You don’t need to be a wine connoisseur (or a wine snob as some like to say of those that love wine) to enjoy the benefits of a wine cooler. The way we look at it is like this.
If you are someone who enjoys a glass of good wine and doesn’t mind spending a few extra dollars to get a better wine then yes, you should probably have a wine cooler. Without a wine cooler you might as well buy the cheap wines because storing and serving wine improperly tends to level the playing field in a negative way.
The proper storage and proper serving of wine are two critical factors which allow you to taste the distinct differences between a $10 wine and a $50 wine and a $500 wine and so on.
At the start of this section, the question was, do I need a wine cooler. Obviously, you are on this site because you are interested in wine coolers. If you are having doubts about getting a wine cooler, please read on. There is a lot of information here to help you decide one way or the other about getting a wine cooler.
Best Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
What is a thermoelectric wine cooler?
There are two types of wine cooler technologies in use today. Wine coolers are using thermoelectric cooling, and wine coolers are using the more widely known compressor cooling.
Compressor cooling is what most people are familiar with from their kitchen refrigerators and on a larger scale central air conditioning units and so forth. Compressor cooling has its set of advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed later. Since this site is focused on thermoelectric wine coolers, we’ll limit our discussion to thermoelectric cooling for the time being.
Thermoelectric cooling uses the Peltier effect to transfer heat. We don’t want to make this a full-blown technology article with detailed information about how a thermoelectric cooling module works so we’ll keep it simple.
To quickly understand what a thermoelectric cooler is, think of something simple, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The bread on one side represents the hot plate material, and the bread on the other hand represents the cold plate material. The peanut butter and jelly in the middle represents the two semiconductor materials chosen for their electrical characteristics.
Once a DC is applied to the semiconductor material (the peanut butter and jelly), the plate on one side (the bread) becomes cold while the plate (the bread) on the other hand becomes hot.
In actual use with a wine cooler, the thermoelectric cooler cold plate will be placed facing inside the cooler where it will draw out the heat and transfer it to the hot plate which is positioned outside the cooler. This heat is taken from the cooler, actually cooling the inside. There are variations for how the thermoelectric cooler (TEC) is integrated to help with the cooling process. Sometimes fans are used to help promote air circulation and sometimes a heat sink (aluminum fins) is attached to the hot plate to help dissipate the heat.
Thermoelectric Cooler Advantages
A thermoelectric cooler has no moving parts which mean longer life and less frequent maintenance required. Many thermoelectric wine coolers use small fans inside the cabinet to help circulate the cool air evenly, but even so, they operate virtually noise and vibration free when compared to regular compressor type coolers.
A vibration free system is important if you are storing wine long term for aging purposes. You don’t want your cooler to continuously shake the sediment in your prized wine, affecting the aging process and the taste.
Quiet operation is necessary depending on where you plan to place your wine cooler. Imagine if you intend to put your new wine cooler in an area where your wine collection can be seen, perhaps where people gather from time to time. You would;t want to be talking over a compressor that’s kicking on and off all the time.
Thermoelectric coolers are more environmentally safe than compressor refrigerators because they do not use refrigerants (CFC) which contribute to ozone depletion.
Thermoelectric Cooler Disadvantages
Nothing is perfect, right? One of the main things you should keep in mind if purchasing a thermoelectric cooler is where you will place it for operation. They have a limited ability to calm when compared to compressor units. Remember, TEC technology draws out the heat, they do not produce cold air as a compressor does.
The ambient temperature of where the unit will be used plays a role in how well it performs. If the ambient temperature where the unit will be operating is above 80˚F or below 50˚F, then a thermoelectric cooler is probably not your best choice. These units are not made for use outside or in a garage, and instead they perform much better in a more controlled environment.
As a general rule of thumb, most units will not cool to a temperature below 50˚F, so if you are planning on keeping a lot of the 45˚F wines (remember our 45-55-65 rule?), a thermoelectric cooler may not be your best choice.
Storage conditions that affect wine
When it comes to discussing wine temperature, there are two sets of temperature criteria to think about. (1) The temperature for storing wine and (2) Temperature for serving wine.
For clarity’s sake let’s make sure we are on the same page. For long-term storage and aging of wine with no intention of serving the wine for at least a year, most experts tend to recommend somewhere between 50˚F and 59˚F as ideal. We think using 55˚F is a good middle number to use when storing wine undisturbed for long term aging.
A large majority of us wine drinkers have a need to store wine properly, but we also want to be able to drink the wine at a moments notice. This points out the need for a way to properly store wine at desired serving temperatures. This is one of the great conveniences of having a good wine cooler; your wine is always ready to drink. No need to worry about ice buckets for rapid cooling or waiting for the wine to warm to the correct temperature.
Ask yourself a couple of questions.
1) Have you ever had a table full of people and you suddenly realized you left the wine in the refrigerator and you serve it too cold, and it’s tasteless? What a waste.
2) Have you ever served wine to someone and you knew it was too warm, so you dropped in an ice cube or two just to “chill it”? …ouch that hurts just thinking about it.
A wine cooler solves these problems for the most part.
Make no mistake, the temperature at which you serve wine will have an impact on how the wine tastes and the wine aroma. The two first mistakes most people make is serving whites too cold (from the fridge) and reds too warm (ambient room temperature).
Depending on the wine and whether it’s served too cold or too hot you will end up losing all the complex flavors that make the wine great in the first place. The wrong temperature can also kill the beautiful aromas. You end up with a cold alcohol flavored watery drink or something that tastes like warm alcohol with a cooked raisin taste, losing the body and texture of the wine.
Ask 100 experts the same question of what temperature wine should be served at, and you are likely to get 100 different (although similar) opinions. The consensus is to serve wine somewhere between 45˚F and 65˚F depending on the particular wine type.
We like to keep things simple so when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is our 45-55-65 rule. Remember, at what temperature you serve wine is not an exact science but using these numbers will get you close for the proper wine serving temperatures.
Serve light, fruity white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc at 45˚F
Help substantial whites such as California and Australian Chardonnay at 55˚F
Serve light, fruity reds such as Chianti at 55˚F
Serve full bodied reds such as California Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot at 65˚F.
Perhaps every bit as important as the actual temperature for storing wine is temperature stability. Wines do not like temperature fluctuations.
Keep in mind when air or wine is heated up it expands. In a corked bottle when the air and wine inside heats up there is expansion taking place. Something has to give the bottle. The expansion can force the cork to slip out a slight amount, weakening the seal of the bottle or the heated air forces its way around the cork and out of the cylinder.
When the temperature swings back down, the reverse happens and the cork contracts, allowing outside air and the accompanying odors to get inside the bottle.
As you can see, repeated temperature swings have an adverse impact on wine over time. It’s important to keep the temperature stable when storing wine. A good rule of thumb is to limit temperature fluctuations to less than 5˚F when storing wine.
Wine is best stored in a relative humidity between 60 and 80 percent. Why? Even with wine stored on its side to keep moisture in contact with the cork, the other end of the cork still comes in contact with the outside air. When the humidity is too low (below 50%) it can help contribute to drying the cork out.
Ideally, you want to sell what’s inside the bottle from any outside influences so keeping humidity at a level that allows the cork to do its job is a plus for storing wine.
High, excessive light, most especially sunlight, can damage the complex molecules that are responsible for the unique flavors of different wines. One way this issue is addressed is by packaging wine in darkly colored glass bottles. Wines packaged in clear glass or lightly colored glass are more susceptible to light damage, and more care should be taken.
The most important thing to take away from this section of fire is to keep your wine away from windows or any other place where it may be subjected to direct sunlight. You should-should see by now how a multitude of things can impact how the wine tastes and smells in a negative way.
Imagine now the person that likes to keep reds at room temperature, let’s say 74˚F for discussion sake. On top of that, they leave it on the kitchen counter right under a window where direct sunlight is warming it further and breaking down the compound molecules at the same time. Imagine tasting that wine when opened and served as is. Do you think you will be tasting the wine at the winery intended?
It can be said with certainty that temperature, humidity, and light are all factors that can and do impact how wine tastes and how it smells. Chemistry and physics both support the conclusions to one degree or another. There is not a lot of data available specific to how vibration impacts wine. It is said that vibrations can disturb the sediment (which can be bitter) in wine so minimizing vibration will minimize the sediment distribution. This is one reason you sometimes hear people saying, let the wine rest (upright) before serving (especially with older aged wines).
With a lack of conclusive evidence, we are in the camp that thinks the less vibration, the better when it comes to storing wine.
Why can’t I store wine in my kitchen refrigerator? You must be wondering this.
As an appliance designed for day to day use, with its primary purpose to preserve perishable food items, the kitchen refrigerator is not well suited for storing wine. The typical recommended temperature for a kitchen refrigerator usually falls somewhere in the 35˚ to 38˚F range and certainly not above 40˚F. From what we have learned so far is that a good temperature range for wine storage? No, too cold.
A typical kitchen refrigerator is opened numerous times throughout the day and night. We’ve all seen people standing at the fridge holding the door open as they look to locate something or browse to decide what they want.
It should be easy enough to know what happens next. The temperature spikes up in the refrigerator and then the compressor kicks on to cool the temperature back to the desired setting. This kind of temperature cycling happens more than you might think in an average household refrigerator. As we learned above, it’s recommended to store wine where the temperature will not fluctuate more than 5˚F. It’s pretty safe to conclude a typical household refrigerator will have temperature swings greater than 5˚F throughout the day and in a lot of cases, many times each and every day.
A kitchen refrigerator is designed to keep humidity low to help preserve perishables. This cold, dry air will not be enough for corks. Also, there are typically many foods stored in the refrigerator which can be the source of odors. When a cork dries out and air starts seeping in the bottle, it also allows these refrigerator odors to contact the wine which is not desirable.
Although many people store wine in their household refrigerator it should be getting clearer by now that a typical home refrigerator is too cold, too dry, has too many temperature swings and possibly too many competing odors to be an ideal place to store wine.
Wine Cooler Reviews
If you have made it this far congratulation for taking the time to become more informed when it comes to thermoelectric wine coolers. We hope the information we have provided here along with our wine cooler reviews will help you make the best choice when choosing the best thermoelectric wine cooler for your needs.