If you love wine, “I wish I’d gotten more bottles of malbec/Sancerre/pét-nat at the fancy wine shop” is a thought that probably enters your mind frequently. We’ve all been there: You’re whipping up a late-night salt-baked fish (as one does), rushing out to the door to a housewarming party, or having an impromptu, hours-long backyard Bluetooth-speaker-and-fire-pit chill with the gang. You want to crack open a bottle of that low-intervention Sicilian rosé you’ve been loving recently, but lo and behold, there’s none left. And that skin-contact wine that blew your mind four years ago that you just realized would be perfect with the grilled eggplant you’re preparing? It’s definitely gone forever. As your palm hits your forehead, you think, “OK, next time I find a wine I love, I’m getting at least six bottles.” But that won’t help you tonight. You know what will, though? Having a well-stocked wine fridge.
But, you’re probably thinking, why save wine at all? Well, holding on to wine isn’t just something one does in order to have a ton of good wine all the time; sometimes, the wine isn’t ready to go when you buy it, which is why collecting wine can be an investment in future enjoyment. “I would say the main reasons why a bottle might not be ready to drink is that they are made for long-term cellaring,” Zack Eastman, co-owner of popular Chicago natural wine bar/shop Easy Does It, says. In fact, some grapes and vintages won’t show their true identity for at least five to 10—or even 20—years.
But how do you know if wine should be enjoyed immediately or if you should keep it pristine, like that special Beatles vinyl your dad refuses to play? “Ask questions and trust your local shop folks,” Eastman says. “They really want to talk to you about this. You’re not annoying! We want to talk to you, whether it’s a $15 bottle for Tuesday night, or starting a collection.”
Eastman says that at his shop, most people are dropping $25 to $30 per bottle, and that while they may hang on to that bottle for a bit, they’re likely not saving it long-term. In his view, however, wine at any price point can be worth saving, and the affordable-but-elevated price range is a perfect place to start. “Hot take: I have some bottles that are like 30 bucks that I’ve hung onto for years, and they just get better and better,” he says.
What should you look for in a wine fridge
One of the most important reasons to have a wine fridge is temperature control. Keeping wine in a literal cellar has its benefits—the ideal cellaring temp (depending on the wine) is between 45 and 55 degrees—and having a fridge can replicate that. Some fridges even have multiple temperature zones, which can be good if you’re storing wines with different needs or for different purposes. “These [ones to keep in a fridge] are wines that tend to be a bit more expensive or fragile, like white wines that already had some age when I purchased them,” Eastman explains. “Or really cool natural wines that are lighter in style and that could use some time, which I worry about, because they don’t have much sulfur and aren’t made in a conventional style, so they might be more fragile.” Some argue that most wine is more resilient than we give it credit for, but many agree that wine typically shouldn’t be stored over 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fridges also keep wines in a good place with regard to humidity. The reason bottles are often stored on their sides (and in places with lower humidity) is that keeping the wine against the cork prevents the cork from drying out, which can compromise the wine. Furthermore, wine fridges are often dark like cellars, which helps prevent the wines from becoming lightstruck, a fault that occurs when the wine is exposed to too much sunlight or certain kinds of artificial light.
There are good wine fridges for everyone from dorm-room dwellers to balled-out millionaires. So if you’re looking to create space in your home to keep some of your favorite bottles handy—and who doesn’t want to stock up on a killer vintage?—or to save juice that isn’t ready to drink yet, there are definitely some good ways to do it. We compiled this short list of some of the best wine fridges, from professional-grade behemoths to affordable options with a smaller footprint. Ultimately, it comes down to how much wine you want to store, what you think looks cool, and what fits your budget.
Vinotemp Connoisseur Series 46 Dual Zone Wine Cooler
“I would look for something on sale,” Eastman says, laughing. “For me, I like the dual-zone Vinotemp style, where they have shelves that come out of a standup cooler that’s like six to seven feet tall. You can keep your whites and reds at different temperatures. It’s a good investment. If you’re investing in wine, you should protect your wine.” This 46-bottle fridge from Vinotemp offers two independent temperature zones and features a digital interface. Its dual-pane glass door with stainless steel trim makes it well-insulated and gives it a cool, chic look without being ostentatious.
Frigidaire 38-Bottle Wine Cooler
Frigidaire’s 38-bottle cooler is just a classic, beloved wine fridge: dual-zone, 38 bottles, looks dope, excellent price. Interior lighting also makes it simple to find which bottle of pét-nat you need to impress even your snobbiest friend. What more could you want?
Wine Enthusiast 32-Bottle Dual Zone MAX Compressor Wine Cooler
Contrary to popular belief, Wine Enthusiast isn’t just a wine magazine; the publication and brand also makes extremely respected wine products. Case in point: The brand’s 32-bottle, dual-zone wine cooler is a boss fridge that not only looks great, but has more space on the bottom section for longer aging and a smaller top section that can get wine chilled for the night’s festivities.
$499 at Wine Enthusiast
Ivation 18 Bottle Compressor Wine Refrigerator
Ivation’s 18-bottle cooler is a budget pick, and it’s a very solid option for somebody looking to start a small collection. This single-zone fridge checks all the boxes: It blocks UV light, prevents moisture, offers soft light, and even locks, so your roommates won’t “accidentally” drink that gorgeous bottle you’ve been saving for the last five years. For slightly more money, you can also get one that fits 28 bottles.
Private Reserve Series 188-Bottle Commercial Wine Cooler
For serious collectors, this big papa stores 188 bottles and stands around six feet tall. It features Vinotemp’s patented Backlit technology, which helps prevent bacteria and mold growth and has a pretty sick neon-ish blue option (but that’s not an excuse to store Four Loko in it).
$4499.00$4157.58 at Home Depot
Now pass that bottle thisaway, friend.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.