Choosing the Best Wine Fridge Size for Your Needs

If building a traditional wine cellar isn’t in the cards, a wine fridge is a great alternative. Maybe  you don’t have the space for a wine cellar, or you simply don’t need that much storage. 

Wine fridges have come a long way in recent years. More than just a place to store and chill bottles, modern wine coolers are sleek, stylish, and functional.

Most wine fridges today have glass fronts with UV protection. This means you can showcase your wine without worrying about “lightstrike” (light tainting your wine). To be safe, though, you should ensure your wine is away from windows or direct sunlight.

Once you’ve decided that a wine fridge is the way to go, there’s still some work to do. You’ll need to determine how much storage you need and which style to go with—freestanding or built-in. 

Keep reading for more information about common wine fridge sizes and how to choose the best one for your needs.

Wine Fridge vs. Standard Kitchen Refrigerator

You might be wondering whether you actually need a wine fridge. Is there really all that much difference between a wine cooler and a regular refrigerator?

In a word, yes. There are three critical differences:

  • Temperature: Standard kitchen refrigerators are designed to be set at a temperature of 33-40°F to keep food fresh and prevent it from spoiling. A wine fridge, on the other hand, is designed for maintaining temperatures between 40 and 65°F, to best preserve white and sparkling wines. Reds are best kept between 60 and 68°F, which is why many people opt for a dual-zone wine cooler.
  • Humidity: Standard refrigerators are designed to capture and release humidity, keeping it cool and dry. This helps preserve food longer. Wine refrigerators, on the other hand, are designed to maintain a higher level of humidity (50-70%). This helps prevent corks from drying out and allowing air to pass through, spoiling your wine.
  • Vibration Control: Too much vibration can stir up the sediments in your wine, leading to chemical changes that can alter or ruin the flavor. It’s why many wine fridge manufacturers include features like special insulation, shock absorbers around the compressor, and rubber bottle tray supports to minimize vibration. You won’t find vibration-control features in a standard refrigerator.

It pays to invest in a wine fridge. A regular kitchen refrigerator simply isn’t designed to preserve wine and help it age to perfection.

Different Types of Wine Fridges

One of your first choices will be deciding between a freestanding or built-in wine fridge.

  • Freestanding wine fridges are designed to be used anywhere. They typically exhaust from the side or the back, so they need adequate space on either side for proper ventilation.
  • Built-in or under-counter wine coolers are designed to fit in between cabinets or under countertops. Clean-looking and polished, built-in or under-counter wine fridges typically exhaust from the front, since they are designed to fit snugly between cabinets.   

Single-Zone Wine Fridge

As the name suggests, single-zone wine fridges have a single compartment that keeps all wine at the same temperature.

It’s ok to keep red and white varietals at the same temperature if your goal is to age them. In this case, you’ll want to set the thermometer between 45 and 60°F.

Serving is a different story. White wines should be served between 45 and 52°F, while red wines should be served between 58 and 68°F. 

A single zone wine cooler may work for you if:

  • You’re only using your wine cooler for storage, not service
  • You only collect one type of wine (either reds or whites/rosés)

You may not need a wine cooler for reds if you have a dark, cool storage spot that maintains a consistent temperature of 55-65°F.

Multi-Zone Wine Coolers

A multi-zone or dual-zone wine fridge has two or more compartments, each with its own temperature controls. This type of wine cooler is ideal if you:

  • Want to age/store some wine at a certain temperature while keeping other bottles at serving temperatures
  • Want to age/serve different types of wine (reds vs. whites/rosés) 

Side-by-Side Wine Fridges

Like a dual-zone wine fridge, a side-by-side wine cooler has two units, each of which has independent temperature controls.

You can store/preserve/cellar wine on one side and maintain proper serving temperatures on the other. Side-by-side wine fridges have a much larger capacity than a single-door wine cooler.  

Built-in and Under-counter Wine Fridges

Built-in fridges and under-counter wine coolers feature a sleek, streamlined design for built-in applications. 

You can find full-size wine refrigerators that hold as many as 200 bottles, to small under-counter options that typically hold 18-36 bottles, depending on the type of wine.  

Common Wine Fridge Dimensions & Sizes

As we’ve covered, wine refrigerators vary greatly in terms of size, capacity, and dimensions. Keep in mind that many freestanding wine coolers are modular, so you can install multiple units side by side as your wine collection grows.

Here are the most common wine fridge sizes:

Extra-Small/Countertop Wine Coolers

If you have a very small wine collection or simply need a cooler to bring your wines to serving temperatures, a countertop wine cooler is a good option. These units hold anywhere from 4-16 bottles (depending on the type of wine and the configuration). They can be placed on a countertop or table, and some can be placed on the floor.

Small (15-18”) Wine Coolers

Wine coolers in this category typically have a capacity of 24-40 bottles. When shopping, you’ll notice that many undercounter wine coolers are 15 inches wide, because these models were designed to fit in a space once used for trash compactors, which have gone out of style. 

18” wine coolers are another popular small option. These units hold anywhere from 30-36 bottles.

Medium to Large (24”) Wine Coolers

This is the most popular category of wine fridges. These tall freestanding or built-in wine fridges are typically around 24” wide and 70-72” tall with a capacity of around 150 bottles. 

They can be single-zone or dual-zone and are ideal if you have a growing wine collection. Large wine coolers typically offer pantry storage and advanced features, like charcoal filters and vibration control.

Extra-Large/Side-by-Side Wine Coolers

Wine fridges in this category are usually 25-60” wide and can hold anywhere from 250-600 bottles. Extra-large wine coolers usually feature all the bells and whistles, from UV-coated glass to charcoal filters to vibration control and sleek LED lighting. 

There may be multiple zones for storing/aging and serving, and many extra-large units even feature label-forward display shelves. These units are for serious wine enthusiasts with a growing collection.

Find the Best Wine Fridge for Your Home

Deciding on wine fridge dimensions will depend largely on where you want to install the unit and how much wine you need to store. 

Choose a level location that can withstand the weight of the wine refrigerator when fully loaded (check the manufacturer’s specs for details) and has a designated electrical outlet where you can plug in your new appliance.

If you are buying a wine fridge for a built-in application, measure your space carefully before deciding on a unit, and be sure to include extra space for ventilation, if needed. If you opt for a freestanding wine fridge, you can always purchase an additional unit as your wine collection grows.

Wine Racks America offers a variety of wine fridge options from trusted names in the industry, including Wine GuardianTranstherm, and Summit. Shop our full wine fridge collection and contact us with any questions. 

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