With the average lifespan of a bottle of wine that has been open about 3 days to 5 days, a wine cooler is an appliance that is used to store, protect, preserve the quality of the wine. However, a wine cooler can also be used to:
- Store and chill chocolate
- Preserve olive oil
- Chill and store other alcoholic beverages at an optimum temperature
- Keep certain medicine chilled
A wine cooler extends the lifespan of wine, enhance its flavor and aroma, and protects it from the sun’s UV rays which can alter your wine’s original flavor. Wine coolers are portable and more cost-efficient than getting a wine cellar built which can cost you up to $20,000. A wine cooler will cost you about $1500 but offers an environment where temperatures can range 40°F (4°C) to 65°F (18°C) which is perfect for different types of wine. Depending on how much wine you are collecting, you can invest in a countertop wine cooler that can hold a minimum of 4 bottles or opt for a 30-inch wine cooler that can house 300 bottles.
With the design and different temperatures that wine coolers offer, this kitchen appliance can also be used as a vegetable crisper. A wine cooler can alternatively be used to store your skincare products like vitamin C serum or sheet masks. The beverages that can be stored in a wine cooler are not limited to alcoholic beverages and you can store your water in this appliance too. Other uses of a wine cooler include:
1. Alcoholic Beverage Refrigerator
The wine cooler can be an alcoholic beverage refrigerator that holds champagne, beer, or ale. Using the white wine setting of the wine cooler, you can chill champagne at 45°F (7°C) to 48°F (9°C) for 2 hours before serving. Light beer should be stored in your wine cooler at a temperature of 45°F (7°C) to 50°F (10°C). Standard ales can be chilled at 50°F (10°C) to 55°F (13°C) while strong beer should be stored at 55°F (13°C) to 60°F (16°C). However, if you are going to store various types of beer in your wine cooler at the same time, chill your alcoholic beverages at a temperature of 50°F (10°C) to 55°F (13°C).
2. Cheese Chiller
Your wine cooler is also a great cheese chiller. Cheeses are meant to be kept at a higher temperature than a regular refrigerator so that the flair and texture of your cheese will remain intact. If you are going to store multiple types of cheese in your wine cooler at the same time, your temperature should be 35°F (2°C) to 45°F (7°C). For specific types of cheese and their temperatures, semi-soft cheese can be stored at 40°F (4°C) to 45°F (7°C) while washed rind cheese and hard cheese can be chilled in the wine cooler at 40°F (4°C) to 50°F (10°C). For consumption, remove your cheese from the wine cooler for 30 minutes and then serve.
3. Chocolate Fridge
Use your wine cooler solely as a chocolate fridge. You can adjust your wine cooler to have an internal temperature of 60°F (16°C) to 75°F (24°C) which is ideal for chocolate. Storing your chocolate in the wine cooler instead of your refrigerator or freezer will protect your chocolate from condensation and possible alterations to your chocolate’s taste and odor.
4. Dry-Aging Machine
Also, a wine cooler can be a dedicated dry aging machine. If you are going to be using your wine cooler as a dry-aging machine, you will need to make sure that your appliance already has fans to circulate air or that you have a fan that you can place inside it for the duration that your meat will be dry aging. After you have prepared your meat, place it on the wire rack of your wine cooler so that your meat will not rot. You can dry-age your meat for 45 days at 34°F (1°C) to 37°F (3°C) so that it is moist and juicy or up to 60 days for intense flavors to emerge.
You can also set your wine cooler to 50°F (10°C) to 57°F (14°C) if you want to age or make cheese. You can ripen semi-hard and hard cheese in your wine cooler at this temperature.
5. Fruit Storage
You can store fruits in your wine cooler as well. While not all fruits should be refrigerated, you can chill apples, bananas, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums in the wine cooler at 32°F (0°C) to 55°F (13°C). If your wine cooler allows you to control the humidity inside the appliance, your fruits will need a high relative humidity of 80% to 95%.
6. Medicine Cabinet
Another way to use a wine cooler is as a medicine cabinet. While most medication should be stored at 75°F (24°C) to 85°F (29°C), or room temperature, some medicine will be labelled with the storage instruction “Refrigerate, do not freeze.” Store medicines with these instructions in your wine cooler so that they are in a cool, dry place that is protected from sunlight. This way, your medicine will not expire quickly, become less effective, or toxic.
7. Non-Alcoholic Beverage Center
Your wine cooler can also be used as a non-alcoholic beverage center. Simply store your iced tea, lemonade, soda, or juice in your wine cooler as a dedicated beverage refrigerator. You can also store your premium mineral water in the wine cooler because this type of water should be stored and then served at a much cooler temperature than a refrigerator. Mineral water can be kept in the wine cooler at 46°F (8°C) to 50°F (10°C) and then served.
8. Olive Oil Preserver
The wine cooler can be used to preserve olive oil. When you leave your olive oil on your counter or in a cupboard, it will lose 40% of its flavor after six months after you purchase it. Experts agree that storing your olive oil in your wine cooler is ideal because olive oil should be stored at a temperature of 57°F (14°C).
9. Pet Food Storage
A wine cooler can store pet food too. Insects and worms can be stored at 50°F (10°C) in your wine cooler so that they remain fresh and can last longer.
10. Skincare Fridge
Your wine cooler can be used as a skincare fridge. The cool temperature of your wine cooler can chill skincare products to help de-puff your face and also preserve your products. The beauty products to keep in your wine cooler include sheet masks, face serums, face mists, natural or organic skincare products, vitamin-C based products, and skincare tools (e.g., a gua sha, jade rollers, or face globes.)
11. Snack Storage Space
Use the wine cooler as a storage space. Chill trays of vegetables, chip dip, fruit salad, cheese, and meat in the wine cooler for 2 hours to 3 hours before your gathering. When your guests arrive, simply take them out and serve them for consumption.
12. Plate, Bowl, and Glass Chiller
Chill salad plates, bowls, and glasses in your wine cooler. Place your bowls or bowls on your wine cooler racks and chill them to maintain the temperature of your food. Chill your glasses so that your beverages will stay colder for a longer period of time.
13. Vegetable Crisper
An alternative way to use your wine cooler is as a vegetable crisper. Store leafy greens, parsley, and cilantro in the wine cooler at 38°F (3°C) to 42°F (6°C) on their own or with some of your wine bottles. This type of produce does not have incredibly overpowering scents and will be safe to store with your wine.
A wine cooler can become a humidor. To turn your wine cooler into a wineador, you will need a humidification device if the model you own is not designed with humidity controls, a hydrometer, and cedar shelves. To prepare your wineador before you use it, use distilled vinegar and a sponge to wipe down the inside of your wine cooler. Let the interior of your wine cooler dry for 24 hours to 48 hours. Plug in your wine cooler and place a carton of baking soda inside it for at least 12 hours to get rid of any lingering smell of vinegar. You can store your cigars in your wine cooler, 10 or 20 cigars at a time every day.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a wine cooler?
When you are learning how to use a wine cooler for the use cases above, you may make some of the following mistakes that can compromise your appliance and what you are putting in it:
- Buying a model without a child lock. Curious children and even older teenagers can carelessly open and mishandle your expensive wine so it is best to make sure that your wine cooler has a lock.
- Flipping your wine cooler upsidedown. After purchasing your kitchen appliance or if you are moving it around your kitchen, do not invert it. Flipping your wine cooler can damage its cooling system.
- Not cleaning your wine cooler often enough. If you are not cleaning your wine cooler regularly, frost and moisture can build up which encourage mold. Clean your wine cooler every 2 weeks and the condenser every 6 months.
- Placing a wine cooler against a wall. No matter what model you purchase, you need to give your wine cooler enough breathing room from walls, cabinets, or other appliances. This way, the cooling system will not have to work extremely hard or use unnecessary energy. Make sure that your wine cooler has 5 inches or more of breathing room around the entire appliance.
- Purchasing the wrong size. More often than not, people purchase a wine cooler that is way too small. A pro tip is that you think about how many wine bottles you will store and buy a wine cooler with a capacity of twice that amount. If even your shelves are not filled to the brim, you can always store other beverages in your wine cooler.
- Putting the wine cooler in direct sunlight. While wine coolers are designed to protect your wine from UV rays, placing your appliance under an area in the kitchen where there is direct sunlight can cause your wine cooler to work twice as hard as it should. This can damage the wine cooler and cause it to stop working before its time so keep it in an area where there is shade.
- Setting the wine cooler’s temperature incorrectly. If you have a specific type of wine in your wine cooler, the temperature matters. White wine should be stored at a temperature of 46°F (8°C) to 56°F (13°C) while red wine will thrive at temperatures of 58°F (14°C) to 68°F (20°C). If you are using the wine cooler for the use cases above, adjust the temperature as recommended.
- Using a single zone wine cooler instead of a dual or multi-zone wine cooler. If you are collecting different types of wine, you will need a wine cooler with dual zones to cater to each type of wine’s preferred temperature. A single zone wine cooler will keep your wine bottles at a single temperature which will not be optimal for all wine.
What is the history of usage of wine coolers?
What is a wine cooler? Today, it is a refrigerator specifically designed to preserve, protect, chill, and showcase wine but the idea of cold wine dates back to the 1st century CE. Ancient Mesopotamia and China also had ice houses or pits specifically for cooling beverages like wine. In Persia, ice houses were made out of mud bricks and were 20 meters tall where deep pits were dug to store ice.
The original wine cooler, called a psykter, was a vase that looked similar to a mushroom which enabled it to float in a crater of cold water or snow. Later on, the Italians had rooms that were solely for ice from rivers to keep wine cold which is what today’s wine coolers are based on.
Do the use cases of a wine cooler change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a wine cooler depend on the type of wine cooler you have. There are single zone wine coolers that are useful if you are storing one type of wine because this type of wine cooler will keep your bottles at one consistent temperature. A dual-zone wine cooler has two compartments where you can control the temperature in each individual area. A multi-zone wine cooler has various areas where you can store different types of wine and choose a temperature that will best preserve the wine’s qualities.
There are also freestanding wine coolers that are meant to be used for preserving or aging wine long-term and should have 2 inches to 3 inches of space around it. Then, there are fully integrated wine coolers designed to fit into cabinets with channels to facilitate airflow. Similar to a freestanding wine cooler, one that is built-in will sit on the floor fun have fans underneath it and vents in the front to expel warmth. This type of wine cooler will need about 0.01 inches to 0.2 inches of space around it.
This appliance can be either thermoelectric or compressor wine coolers. Thermoelectric wine coolers are vibration-free and are more energy-efficient. Generally, this type of wine cooler cannot be set to a temperature below 46°F (8°C) to 50°F (10°C) and are only freestanding. A compressor wine cooler can cater to every type of wine because you can adjust its internal temperature from 41°F (5°C) to 72°F (22°C). This type of appliance can be a freestanding, fully integrated, or built-in wine cooler.
Which wine cooler is best for cooling wine?
The best wine cooler for cooling wine is a dual-zone compressor wine cooler. With two different temperatures and with each area with an internal temperature that can range from 41°F (5°C) to 72°F (22°C), you can store different types of wine at the same time in the same place without compromising the quality of a single bottle.
Does a mini-fridge have more use cases than a wine cooler?
No, discussing a mini-fridge vs. wine cooler, a wine cooler can have more use cases. While a mini-fridge is colder than a wine cooler is, a wine cooler has a wider range of temperatures that you can set the appliance to for the use cases above. Additionally, the different sizes that a wine cooler comes in means that you can have more space than the largest mini-fridge can offer.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a wine cooler?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a wine cooler include:
- Beverage Center: This appliance is designed to store various beverages on display and often have different temperatures for different zones.
- Mini-fridge: A miniature refrigerator is a compact and freestanding version of the traditional fridge meant for small spaces and to store small amounts of food or beverages.
- Refrigerator: This kitchen appliance stores food and beverages in an insulated compartment that maintains a cool temperature to preserve the quality of items.
While these appliances have similar use cases to a wine cooler, they have use cases specific unique to them. You can learn more about the 5 uses of these 3 appliances here.