Wine Cooler vs Mini Refrigerator: What is the Difference?

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll agree with me that certain conditions need to be met to ensure your wine age optimally. Conditions such as the cooling temperature, and humidity, amongst others.

While many wine connoisseurs prefer to age their wines in a wine cooler, some other people prefer to serve theirs in a fridge. So does the internal environment of a mini fridge and a wine cooler affect the quality of the wine we drink? That’s what we’re about to find out: hence this wine cooler vs mini refrigerator debate.

To help you make the right purchasing decision, we’ll delve deep into the mini refrigerator vs wine cooler debate.

Let’s find out the differences between a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator.

What Are the Differences Between A Wine Cooler and A Mini Refrigerator?

The main difference between a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator is their cooling temperature.

Wine coolers store bottles of wine at temperatures ranging from 46°F to 68°F (which is the optimum cooling temperature range for both red and white wines). While the cooling temperature for mini refrigerators ranges from 35°F to 42°F (which is too cold for storing wine).

The second main difference between a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator is in the items you can store in these appliances.

A wine cooler is used for serving bottles of red and white wine and beverages while many mini refrigerators have two compartments – a cooling zone and a freezing zone – for preserving perishable food items and other items that can be stored short-term in the fridge.

To better understand how these appliances differ, let’s explore their features individually.

What is a wine cooler? A wine cooler (also referred to as a wine cellar, refrigerator, or fridge) is a kitchen appliance for storing wine collection at its optimum cooling temperature – which is higher than the temperature standard fridges use in storing other beverages or food items.

Wine fridges are designed to gradually drop temperature and maintain a certain temperature range, which is optimum for serving wine. In most cases, wine coolers do not get colder than 46°F as the optimum cooling temperature range for storing red wines is 58°F to 68°F while that for white wine is from 46°F to 56°F.

At these temperature ranges, wine coolers maintain a certain level of humidity rather than cold and dry conditions in fridges. Lack of humidity can shrink the corks of wines and spoil or reduce their quality by allowing surrounding air and odors to seep into the drink.

Also, wine coolers usually have transparent doors and interior lighting that serves two purposes; to protect the wine collection from UV light and illuminate its content, so you can see your collection without opening the cellar. This also keeps the temperature of the cellar constant.

While a wine cooler may also be able to store beverages, your canned drinks may come out warmer due to the higher temperature. So you should get a dedicated beverage cooler.

Finally, unlike full-sized refrigerators that vibrate on operation, wine fridges that run on compression cooling have a special system for absorbing vibration and reducing its impact on wines.

What is a mini refrigerator? Mini refrigerators (also called portable fridges) are compact refrigerators for storing cooked foods, perishables, and other items in very cold temperatures. The size of mini refrigerators ranges from 1.7 cu. ft. to 4.5 cu. ft.

Because of their sizes, they can fit in almost any space; under the counter, in hotel rooms, dorms, offices, and bedrooms. Also, they don’t consume as much electricity as full-sized refrigerators (which can be as low as 12 volts).

While mini fridges are designed for cooling items short-term, many models also have a freezing compartment to preserve frozen foods. Aside from these compartments, they have multiple shelves and compartments for organizing items.

Despite the organizational features of mini fridges, they don’t offer enough space for storing wines.

Portable refrigerators keep food items cold and dry at an average temperature of 40°F, thus limiting bacterial action. So when you want to preserve your salad, ice cream, and bread, including non-edible items and beverages, a portable refrigerator is the unit to use.

What are the advantages of a wine cooler over a mini fridge?

The advantages of a wine cooler, when compared to a mini fridge, are that it’s the best appliance for storing wines at the optimum humidity and temperature.

Best for storing wines

When compared to mini fridges, wine coolers are the best appliances for storing wines.

First, wine coolers run and maintain the optimum temperature range for storing wines which is 46°F to 68°F long-term. Mini refrigerators, on the other hand, preserve items at a colder and dryer and temperature of 40°F. Wine corks shrink and become porous at this temperature, and allow surrounding air to seep into your drinks.

Also, a mini fridge holds a lot of food items like cooked foods, fruits, beverages, vegetables, and other perishables. These items have odors that can seep into wine bottles over time and contaminate or reduce the quality of your drinks.

Wine coolers, on the other hand, are dedicated to storing wines only: thus preserving your wine’s taste and flavors.

Maintains the right humidity

Wine coolers are engineered to maintain the best humid condition for storing wine: which is between 60 and 70%. This humidity prevents the growth of mold and shrinkage of wine corks.

Also, they have shock absorbers that prevent the fridges from vibrating too much and deteriorating the quality of the drinks. Their glass doors and interior light also protect the wines from UV rays.

On the other hand, mini refrigerators are dry when cold and are not optimized for storing wines.

Keeps temperature constant

Unlike wine coolers that keep the refrigeration temperature constant, the temperature in mini fridges fluctuates. One of the major reasons for this is that mini refrigerators are opened multiple times every day.

This isn’t the case with wine fridges as they’re opened once a day or a couple of days. This way, the temperature stays constant.

Larger capacity

The shelving of wine coolers makes them have a larger interior capacity. The pull-out shelves of wine coolers allow wine bottles to be arranged in such a way that around 45 to 60 bottles of wine can be stored in a 24-inch wine refrigerator. A mini fridge of this size can’t accommodate as many drinks.

Lasts longer

When compared to mini fridges, wine coolers last longer. The lifetime expectancy of a wine cooler is 10 to 15 years. This is opposed to the 5 to 14 years lifespan of mini fridges.

What are the advantages of a mini refrigerator over a wine cooler?

The advantages of a mini refrigerator, when compared to a wine cooler, are that it’s an affordable fridge that can be used to store a wide variety of items.

More versatility

Unlike wine fridges that are used to store only wines, mini fridges are used for a variety of items.

You can store fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, canned foods, packaged foods, ice creams, butter, beverages, and a lot of other items that aren’t edible.

Some mini refrigerators have freezing compartments added to their cooling zones for storing frozen foods.

The shelving of wine coolers isn’t optimized for storing large items as they’re only designed to hold bottles and canned drinks.

More usage

When compared to wine refrigerators that are mostly used in bars at home, portable fridges have found more use in a wide variety of places. You can use a mini fridge to store snacks, drinks, and other items at home, in the office, patio, dorm room, or hotel room.

Great for storing large items

When compared to a wine cooler, a mini fridge provides you with enough room to store containers and items of various shapes and sizes.

So whether you want to store frozen beef, dairy, or a bowl of ice cream, you can do so with a mini fridge.

Better organization

In contrast to wine coolers that come with shelves for arranging your drinks, mini fridges come with a couple of shelves, racks, and compartments for organizing your foodstuff.

This allows you to arrange your drinks, veggies, fruits, and other items. This helps you declutter your fridge so you can have easy access to whatever you want.

More affordable

When compared to wine coolers, mini fridges are more affordable. The price for a wine cooler ranges from $150 to $2,500 while a mini refrigerator costs between $50 and $1,500.


Which One Is More Usable in the Kitchen Between A Wine Cooler and A Mini Refrigerator?

A mini refrigerator is more versatile than a wine cooler as it can be used to store a wide variety of foods and items that can be preserved by refrigeration – raw foods, dairy, soups, veggies, and cooked foods. Many mini refrigerators have a freezing compartment in addition to their cooling compartment for storing frozen foods.

Their racks and shelves make it possible to easily organize your items and fit larger containers.

And if you’re asking, “Is a wine cooler the same as a mini refrigerator?” No, they’re different appliances.

A wine cooler is a type of refrigerator that’s designed for storing wines at an optimum temperature, humidity, and conditions while a mini refrigerator is a compact fridge that’s designed to preserve food items that you’d usually store in a standard refrigerator.

What items can you store in a wine cooler?

While wine refrigerators are best for serving wines, there are a couple of other items that can do well in warmer temperatures than fridges operate.

  • Champagne
  • Beer
  • Soda
  • Chocolate
  • Snacks
  • Skincare products
  • Sparkling water
  • Veggies: leafy greens, sprouts, and parsley
  • Pet foods
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Water bottles
  • Fruits: pears, kiwis, bananas, plums, peaches, apples, grapes, oranges
  • Lemonade
  • Medications
  • Sliced meat for sandwich
  • Chocolate
  • Cigars
  • You can chill glassware

You should never store items with a strong smell like onions and garlic in your cellar. Here are other uses of a wine cooler.

What items can you store in a mini refrigerator?

Most of the foodstuff and items you can store in a full-sized fridge can be stored in a mini refrigerator.

  • Vegetables
  • Raw meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Fruits: strawberries, bananas, apples, oranges, etc.
  • Chocolate
  • Snacks
  • Nuts
  • Beauty products
  • Hummus
  • Water
  • Beer
  • Eggs
  • Salads
  • Dairy: cheese, milk, soy milk, yogurt,
  • Breast milk
  • Leftovers
  • Soda
  • Pizza leftovers
  • Peanut butter
  • Tortillas

Can a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator be paired together in a kitchen?

Yes, you can pair a mini refrigerator and a wine cooler in a kitchen. Wine coolers are used for storing red and white wine while a mini refrigerator is used for storing foodstuff and other items that need to be chilled.

Here's how to use a wine cooler and also can you use a wine cooler as a refrigerator?

What are the instances where you can use a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator together?

If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’ll know the importance of having a dedicated wine cellar to serve your wine. So as a wine enthusiast who hosts guests or loves preserving your wine’s quality and flavors, you can age your wine in your wine cooler for when they’re ready to serve. And you store other beverages, snacks, or fruits in your mini fridge.

What are the instances where a wine cooler and a mini refrigerator should never be used together?

If you love drinking wine but don’t consider yourself a wine enthusiast, you may not find having a wine cooler necessary. So you do not need a wine cooler alongside your mini fridge as you’ll be okay with storing your wines in your mini refrigerator.

What to Consider when Buying A Wine Cooler and A Mini Refrigerator?

If you’re considering getting either a mini fridge or a wine cooler or both, here are the factors that are worth considering.

What type of fridge should I get?

There are two types of wine coolers depending on their operational technology; thermoelectric and compressor cooling technology.

Thermoelectric wine coolers are not very powerful appliances, so they’re not suitable for carrying a large number of wine bottles. However, they’re very energy-efficient, quiet in operation, and do not vibrate.

Alternatively, compression wine coolers are more powerful than thermoelectric wine coolers, so they can carry more bottles of wine. However, they’re loud and not very efficient.

For mini refrigerators, there are different types based on size: cube, portable, mid-size, mini bar, and undercounter mini refrigerators.

Cube mini refrigerators are the most common of all mini fridges. These types of fridges can’t be taken on camping trips as they’re quite large enough to carry 28 to 59 liters of wine. However, they’re powerful.

Portable wine coolers are smaller than cube mini cellars, and they mostly run on thermoelectric. Their compact size makes them great for taking on camping trips as they can fit in cars. They also consume a lesser amount of energy (starting from 12 volts).

Mid-size mini refrigerators are more energy-efficient than cube refrigerators. And at a capacity of between 80 and 96 liters, they’re also large.

Undercounter refrigerators have capacities of over 100 liters: making them the largest mini fridges. Mini bars are only used for storing beverages.

What items will you be storing in your fridge?

If you’re going to be mostly preserving raw, cooked, and a few bottles of wine, then a mini fridge will suffice. Also, if you’re going to be storing frozen meat, seafood, or poultry, you should consider one with a freezer compartment

But if you’re a wine enthusiast who loves having wine and relishing the natural flavors, then you’ll need a wine cellar alongside your mini fridge.

How much space do I need to install my fridge?

When installing a mini fridge, consider the size of your kitchen and reserve a space of about 3 inches between your fridge and the wall.

Also, note that there are freestanding, built-in, countertop, and under-counter models.

Freestanding fridges typically have capacities of around 3 to 4.5 cu. ft with a dimension of 19 x 18 x 30 inches. Countertop fridges are one of the smallest fridges you’ll see as they sit on the kitchen counter. They have capacities ranging from 1.5 to 1.8 cu. ft and have a dimension of 17 x 18 x 17 inches. While built-in and undercounter models typically have capacities ranging from 1.5 to 7.5 cu. ft.

How much should I spend on a mini fridge or wine cooler?

Wine coolers are more expensive than mini fridges.

Wine coolers cost around $150 and $2,500 while mini refrigerators cost between $50 and $1,500. But the best rated wine cellar cost between $200 and $700 while the best-rated mini fridges typically cost between $100 and $300.

What Are the Best Brands for Wine Coolers?

The five best brands making the best wine coolers are Wine Enthusiast, NewAir, EuroCave, Kalamera, and Ivation.

Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast is our top pick for the best wine cooler brand. Their coolers are durable and have lots of positive reviews. They’re also roomy to accommodate a lot of bottles. Unlike many other fridges that have wire racks, Wine Enthusiast models mostly have beechwood shelving to protect your drinks’ labels.

And one of their top-performing models is the N’Finity Pro series with a distinctive build and compartments that can accommodate both wines and other beverages.


NewAir is also another reputable brand making quality fridges. They make some of the best built-in coolers. Their models are also cheap as many of them come with wire racks. They make both dual-zone and single-zone coolers.


EuroCave is one of the most popular brands making some of the best-quality wine coolers. Their cellars are mostly known for their humongous sizes and capacity: with some models being able to hold over 100 Bordeaux bottles. However, they’re pricey, and you may not need their large models if you’re not a wine connoisseur.


Kalamera is one of the best brands making some of the best wine cellars. Their cellars are mostly compact but have enough room to fit a good number of Bordeaux bottles. They make both thermoelectric and compressor models.


Ivation is another brand making some of the best budget-friendly wine coolers. They have simple designs and have enough room to fit odd-shaped bottles. You can get both single- and dual-zone wine coolers from Ivation.

What Are the Best Brands for Mini Refrigerators?

The five best brands for mini refrigerators are Black and Decker, Danby, NewAir, GE, and Frigidaire.

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