If you collect wine and keep a modest collection at home, a wine cooler is indispensable.
Today, we’ll be focusing exclusively on built-in wine coolers (also known as under counter wine cooler). What are these, exactly?
Well, as the name implies, these wine fridges can be built into existing units in your kitchen. This helps to give you a more streamlined look than installing a bulky freestanding appliance.
Whether you want to replace an unused trash compactor with something more serviceable like a cooler or you have other cabinetry crying out for a refit, a built-in unit is a smart choice.
Today, we’ll be reviewing 11 of the leading models in an increasingly crowded market segment. We have chosen both single-zone and dual-zone coolers. We also tried to include fridges with varying capacity so there should be something for all tastes and budgets.
Before we push ahead with those built-in wine cooler reviews, we’ll touch on why you should buy a built-in cooler in the first place.
I. Why You Should Buy a Built-In Wine Cooler
Many of the benefits attached to buying an under counter wine fridge are also applicable to freestanding models.
Here are some of the core reasons for buying a built-in wine cooler:
- Convenience: Even if you have a crowded kitchen without space for new appliances, there’s every chance you could make room under a counter or inside an existing cabinet
- Regulate temperature and humidity: If you’re tempted to keep your wine in the kitchen fridge, you should avoid this. The humidity levels will be out of kilter for wine storage. You should aim for humidity levels of roughly 70% when storing wine. You won’t get this in the kitchen fridge
- Install in tight spaces with no concerns about overheating: The specialized design of these coolers means you don’t need to worry about poor air circulation leading to overheating. Slip them in a tight space with no repercussions
OK, before we press ahead with our reviews, a few words about different types of built-in wine cooler.
II. How Many Types of Under Counter Wine Fridge Are There?
Built-in wine coolers can be broadly cleaved into two types:
- Compressor Wine Coolers
- Thermoelectric Wine Coolers
Compressor Wine Coolers
A compressor wine cooler works on the same principles as a regular kitchen refrigerator. This results in ample firepower even if they make quite a bit of noise to achieve this and draw down a fair amount of power.
This type of cooler is not adversely affected by fluctuations in the outside temperature making it effective anywhere with large temperature swings.
If you’re looking to store larger numbers of wine bottles consistently long-term and you don’t mind a bit of noise, a compressor wine cooler can work well.
Thermoelectric Wine Coolers
Your other main choice is a thermoelectric cooler. The technology underpinning these wine fridges allows them to run very quietly. You typically get very little vibration, either. Vibration can agitate the sediment in wine bottles to the detriment of the flavor.
The downside of these thermoelectric coolers is that they can struggle to chill larger quantities of bottles.
For smaller collections, these energy-efficient and quiet coolers make the ideal solution.
Right, with that background in place, we’ll walk you through the best built-in wine coolers 2020.
III. The 11 Best Built-In Wine Coolers
1. Our #1 Pick:Kalamera 30-Bottle Built-In Wine Cooler
First up in our quest for the best built-in wine coolers is a 30-bottle beauty from industry giant Kalamera. The company has a deep bench of storage solutions for your wine collection. What do you get with this single-zone cooler, then?
Despite that single cooling zone, you can tweak the temperature from 40F right up to 66F. If you want to store both red and white wine to serve at the same time, you’ll come up short. For long-term storage of mixed wines, single zone coolers are fine, though. Also, if you only drink one type of wine, you’ll be in safe hands with this single-zone fridge.
Highly versatile, you can leave the Kalamera freestanding or you can build it into existing units. Its small overall size makes it a neat fit for under-counter installation, too.
While this cooler is quite compact, the capacity is impressive. You can house 30 bottles of traditional 750ml Bordeaux. You can rearrange the shelving to accommodate larger bottles, although capacity will be reduced if you’re storing champagne or similar larger bottles.
This cooler measures up at 14.9 x 33.9 x 22.4 inches. Leave this cooler freestanding, build it into existing units, or install it under-the-counter for maximum flexibility.
The frame of this cooler is rugged stainless steel for a lengthy lifespan. The double-layered tempered glass on the doors maintains the integrity of your cooling environment perfectly.
Our only real gripe with Kalamera is not specific to this cooler, but concerns customer service. We found a number of disgruntled users reporting issues with customer service. This minor point set aside, you’re in safe hands with this highly effective single-zone wine cooler.
2. Upgrade Pick:Kalamera 46-Bottle Dual-Zone Wine Cooler
If you have deep pockets and a growing wine collection, consider investing in this 46-bottle dual-zone cooler, again from the inimitable Kalamera.
Dual-zone coolers are crucial if you want to keep both red and white wine for short-term consumption. As you’ll doubtless be aware, red and white wines are best served at different temperatures. With this cooler, you can chill your whites in the upper zone from 40F to 50F. Down below, there’s space for a good selection of reds. Keep this chilled slightly less aggressively from 50F to 66F.
You can, of course, set both zones to the same temperature if you plan to use this cooler for long-term storage. Strive for 55F and then adjust to serve if you’re in this for the long haul.
The adjustable beech shelving can be reconfigured if you need to store larger bottles. Capacity will be correspondingly reduced. You should also note that, as with all wine coolers, the quoted capacity is absolutely crammed. Our advice is to err on the side of caution and go larger than you first think you need.
With very little noise or vibration, you won’t end up with the sediment in your wine bottles agitated and the flavor impaired.
Build quality is robust. Solid beech shelves and stainless steel throughout ensures that this cooler will last the distance. As with the cooler above, you might suffer from lack and unresponsive customer service if you run into any issues. Given the overall quality of this superb wine cooler, we don’t think there’s much chance of disappointment, though.
3. EdgeStar 38-Bottle Wine Cooler
If you have a smaller to mid-sized collection of red and white wine, EdgeStar’s rock-solid 38-bottle cooler gives you the capacity to cope. In return, you need to make space for this 23 x 19.3 x 33.9 inch gem. Assuming you have the room in your kitchen, what do you get with this cooler, then?
As with all wine coolers, maximum stated capacity is something you should consider as the outer limit not a comfortable number of bottles to keep on the go. Also, capacity is based on using regular 750ml Bordeaux bottles. With larger bottles of champagne or similar, you’ll need to rejig the shelving, and you’ll accommodate fewer bottles.
For anyone who drinks red and white wine throughout the week, a dual-zone cooler makes life much easier. The upper zone has a temperature range of 40F to 54F. In the lower zone, chill from 54F to 64F. This allows you to keep your whites strongly chilled while your reds sit cooling at a slightly higher temperature. See the FAQs below for more details on temperature.
When you want to install this cooler, you can hang the door on either side to max out your options.
EdgeStar is an industry staple as you’ll see by the number of their coolers on our list. You get great brand heritage, solid customer care, and coolers built by an expert in this space. What’s not to love?
4. EdgeStar 24-Inch Wine Cooler
Next up, another EdgeStar. Along with Kalamera, this brand has a stranglehold on wine storage. By dealing with an industry expert, you are guaranteed a certain quality lacking in many cheaper wine coolers.
The black cabinet is contrasted with stainless steel and wooden shelving for a sleek and powerful addition to your kitchen.
The 24-inch design of this cooler means you should have no problem installing it into existing cabinets or under-the-counter. Overall dimensions are 32 x 23.5 x 24.4 inches and the cooler weighs 94 pounds. Make sure you have the space and also check for where you plan to install the cooler. Skip the research and planning here and you could end up making an expensive mistake.
The dual zones allow you to keep your red and white wine chilled to different temperatures as required. The left-hand zone cools from 36F to 43F. This is lower than most wine coolers. On the other side, keep your red wines cooled from 41F to 68F. This is an excellent breadth of temperatures making this EdgeStar cooler one of the most flexible wine storage solutions on the market.
As with most products of this size, you can expect your package delivered curbside. You won’t have the option of inside delivery. Make sure you have some assistance for unloading and installation if you can’t manage the job alone. This is not a light package.
Like all EdgeStar coolers, you get an impressive solidity. Many satisfied customers report of these coolers lasting for years. So, if you want to protect the investment of your wine collection and to enjoy those bottles at their best, think long and hard about treating yourself to this built-in EdgeStar wine cooler.
5. EdgeStar 30-Bottle Built-In Wine Cooler
As you can see from the number of EdgeStar models on our list, this brand is one of the go-to choices for wine collectors looking for alternative storage solutions to a conventional cellar. Let’s face it, who has room for a dedicated basement devoted to nothing but wine storage? Not us, and we’re wine lovers extraordinaire.
So, to fill this gap, EdgeStar has a deep bench of highly efficient and reasonably affordable wine coolers with a focus on build quality and accuracy of cooling.
The 30-bottle capacity is best for smaller collections. If you feel you might start keeping more bottles of wine over time, you should consider a larger fridge.
This is a single-zone unit so works best for either long-term storage or keeping a single type of wine. If you want to keep both red and white to serve throughout the week, choose a dual-zone cooler instead.
If you’re happy with the solo cooling zone, you’ll get some nice extras include carbon-activated filtration and very quiet cooling.
One common theme emerges when examining user feedback about this particular model. Several unhappy users talk about problems kicking in almost as soon as the warranty has expired. We consider warranties as a benchmark of likely problems developing. After all, what manufacturer is offering a guarantee in the expectation of losing out? We would bear this in mind and consider it offset against the very reasonable sticker price of this excellent built-in wine cooler.
6. Kalamera Dual-Zone Wine Cooler
From EdgeStar back to Kalamera now. These two brands are like the Apple/Android of the wine cooler world and you can see why when you check out the quality of their product lines. They also score by offering you so much choice in terms of sizing, capacity, and installation. How does this dual-zone beauty stand out, then?
With 7 wooden shelves and 6 wire racks, you get an expansive storage environment. In real terms, this translates to 20 bottles of wine along with 60 cans of drink. This makes the Kalamera a great storage facility for all the family. Keep your wine collection on one side, beers and soft drinks on the other.
One thing to watch out for off the bat. In spite of being marketed as “near whisper-quiet”, this model has a reputation for kicking out too much noise. If you are planning to position this cooler somewhere that would be problematic, you might want to reconsider.
Assuming you aren’t bothered by this issue, you can set independent cooling zones from 40F to 66F on the left and from 38F to 50F on the opposite side. Whether you want to store red wine, white wine, champagne, beer, soft drinks, or all of them at once, you’re spoiled for choice with this cooler.
You get the same degree of scope with installation. Leave the cooler freestanding or build it into your existing units.
Some users have reported issues with the height being incorrectly stated. Unfortunately, these users do not provide details of what height they claim the cooler really is. If you’re planning to install this fridge somewhere height-sensitive, we’d think carefully before proceeding.
7. EdgeStar 36-Bottle Wine Cooler
EdgeStar’s 36-bottle cooler is another model that affords you the option of freestanding or built-in installation. In all instances, make sure you leave space for ventilation around the cooler.
This unit measures 34.6 x 23.5 x 22.6 inches and weighs 100 pounds. In return for this substantial size, you get a correspondingly robust capacity. Assuming you use regular 750ml bottles of Bordeaux, you could squeeze in up to 36 bottles. This is the absolute maximum with 30 or so a more comfortable fit.
As with all decent wine coolers, you can remove the shelves to keep them clean. This also allows you to rejig internal storage if you’re looking to stash larger bottles. You’ll also be able to store fewer bottles if they are outsized.
Lockable doors ensure your precious wine collection is safe from the prying hands of any kids in the house.
You can view your collection without opening the doors thanks to blue interior LEDs. The more you preserve the integrity of the cooling environment, the better the prospects of your wine when stored over time.
Responsive and easily-navigable touch controls ensure this cooler is easy to use even if you’ve never tried your hand at wine storage. Just punch in your preferred temperature for each zone. You can see everything you need at a glance on the LCD.
As a dual-zone cooler, this unit is ideal for storing both red and white wine for short-term consumption. Enjoy a broad temperature band of 40F to 65F on each side of the cooler. You can control each zone independently from the control panel.
This EdgeStar model is one of our personal favorites for its great value and enviable performance along with solid brand heritage.
8. Antarctic Star Dual-Zone Wine Cooler
Antarctic Star don’t have a broad range of wine coolers, but their limited selection has some notable models like this dual-zone 28-bottle unit.
You should be clear that this is not the ideal fridge if you want a robust collection of mixed wines you can grow over time. The stated maximum capacity of 28 bottles is anyway small. Beyond this, we found a number of users complaining about struggling to achieve anywhere near this capacity. Throw in narrowly-spaced shelving, and this is not a cooler for large wine collections.
If, however, you have limited space in the kitchen but you’re not prepared to compromise on wine storage, this space-saving unit is the perfect solution. Measuring up at 15 x 22.75 x 34.25 inches and tipping the scales at 88 pounds, this is a compact gem with adequate space for a small wine collection.
Unusually for a small wine cooler, you get dual-zone functionality. This allows you to store both reds and whites short-term and to serve them at the different temperatures essential to get the best out of them.
Choose from built-in or freestanding installation depending on the design of your kitchen.
Much like many of these dedicated wine coolers, you get a nice balance between stainless steel and the wood used to edge the shelving. The cooler would work well in both traditional and modernist kitchens.
The double-paned doors come with dual-tempered glass. Set the temperature from 41F to 68F in either zone to enjoy enormous flexibility.
If you need a small collection of mixed wines stored short-term, this dual-zone cooler from Antarctic Star is an absolute must.
9. NewAir 29-Bottle Wine Cooler
NewAir has a small range of excellent wine coolers that come affordably priced without stiffing you in terms of build quality and performance.
If you store standard bottles of Bordeaux, you can cram up to 29 inside the NewAir. Despite this capacity, the cooler measures just 15 inches across. Designed to be built into your existing kitchen units, you could also replace an unused trash compactor or similar with an all-new wine cooler.
When storing wine, you need to keep it protected from UV rays and you need to maintain a constant temperature. Opening and closing the doors frequently runs counter to this. Thanks to the blue LEDs inside, you can easily monitor your bottles without opening the door.
Insulated glass completes a robust package.
Store whites from 40F to 50F in the upper zone. This guarantees they are crisp and fresh to drink at their very best. Red wine goes down below and you can adjust the temperature from 50F through 66F to suit. For anyone looking to keep a collection of mixed wines and to serve them simultaneously at different temperatures, this cooler is the perfect solution.
When reviewing wine coolers, we pay particular attention to user reviews. A thread that emerges throughout forums about this model is compressor failure. This is something worth bearing in mind since much of the testimony states it’s not possible to have this part repaired resulting in the need to buy a new wine cooler. While these comments were in the minority, we feel they are worth pointing out.
Aside from this potential weak point with the compressor, the NewAir makes a pocket-friendly and compact choice for wine storage.
10. EdgeStar 53-Bottle Wine Cooler
Now for something substantially bigger with this 53-bottle beast from the inimitable EdgeStar.
When you have a mid-sized wine collection of both red and white wines and you want to store them long-term, you can keep them both chilled to the same 55F. Unfortunately, you’ll then need to adjust the temperatures when it’s time to serve them. This is the limitation of a single-zone cooler and we’re surprised to see this EdgeStar 53-bottle cooler doesn’t feature a second zone.
If you’re keeping either one type of wine or you’re looking at long-term storage, this layout makes sense so what do you get for your money?
Well, before whipping out your credit card, you need to check on sizing. This unit measures 33.5 x 23.5 x 22.5 inches. It weighs in at exactly 100 pounds. As long as you have the room in your kitchen, you’ll be rewarded by enviable capacity and a solidly built unit set to stay the distance.
The design is sleek with interior LEDs adding an edge of class. The other advantage to lights inside is the way you can monitor your collection without constantly opening and closing the door.
Auto-defrost is baked in reducing any maintenance to an absolute minimum. Indeed, that’s the beauty of this cooler, it’s set-and-forget nature. Punch in your desired temperature and allow the cooler to do the rest.
Reversible doors maximize your options when it comes to built-in options. The tempered glass guarantees a consistent and protective cooling environment.
As long as you don’t mind the single-zone limitations of this wine cooler, its generous capacity makes it a smart choice for anyone with a swelling wine collection.
11. Bodega 31-Bottle Wine Cooler
Last but by no means least in our quest for the best built-in wine cooler is this dinky 31-bottle model from Bodega. How does it differentiate itself in a crowded pack?
Firstly, make certain you’re OK with the single cooling zone on offer. You can adjust the temperature from 41F to 68F. This cooler works best in one of two scenarios. If you drink exclusively red wine or white wine, you won’t need twin zones. Alternatively, if you plan to keep red and white wine long-term, you can store both at 55F, again negating the need for a second zone.
Capacity is 31 bottles. This is based on 750ml bottles. A bonus with this cooler is the way it can house larger bottles. Reconfigure the shelving to accommodate. Expect, of course, reduced capacity if you’re loading up with beefier bottles.
Installation is straightforward with the option of leaving the cooler freestanding or building it into existing units in your kitchen. Design is sleek with the blue lights inside giving you the optimum storage environment while showcasing your wine perfectly.
If you want a compact and reliable wine cooler for a smaller collection, place your trust in Bodega.
OK, with our built-in wine cooler reviews in place, we’ve assembled some handy pointers to help you on the buying trail.
We’ll look next at what to consider when you’re buying a built-in wine cooler.
IV. Things You Should Consider
Here are 5 things to consider when you’re buying a built-in wine cooler:
- Capacity vs Dimensions
- Single-Zone or Dual-Zone?
- Noise Factor
- Bells and Whistles
You need to think closely about where you will place your built-in wine cooler in advance. This will help you by streamlining your options and limiting the number of suitable models.
Are you planning to replace an unused trash compactor? This is one of the most common placement options.
Do you have an unused cupboard crying out for a cooler?
Perhaps you have another appliance gathering dust you want to remove and replace with your new cooler.
Whatever your reasons for buying a built-in wine cooler, you should think about placement first and foremost.
2) Capacity vs Dimensions
Make certain the total capacity of the coolers on your shortlist gels with your needs. If you’re caught between two sizes, always opt for the large one if possible.
We say if possible since you also need to consider the overall size of the cooler and whether you have the space for it in the kitchen.
Find a balance between capacity and dimensions.
3) Single-Zone or Dual-Zone?
If you want to store only red or white wine, a single-zone cooler works well.
Also, when you’re storing mixed wine long-term, you can chill red and whites to 55F. This again renders a single-zone unit fit for purpose.
When you routinely drink red and white wines and you want them chilled for short-term consumption, a dual-zone cooler is essential.
We included multiple options of each type of cooler so roll with what works best.
4) Noise Factor
See above for our breakdown of compressor wine coolers vs thermoelectric wine coolers for a breakdown on why you should buy a thermoelectric cooler if you want to slash noise to a complete minimum.
5) Bells and Whistles
Wine coolers come with LED lights, locks, removable shelving, auto-defrost, and other extras.
All that counts here is buying something that provides the cooling environment you need for your wine collection. Don’t get hung up on extras.
OK then, we’ll round out today with a collection of answers to the most frequently asked questions about built-in wine coolers and wine storage.
1) What’s the best temperature if I’m storing red and white wine long-term?
Aim for a constant temperature of 55F. You can then adjust the temperature when it’s time to serve your wine.
2) What temperature should white wine be chilled at?
You should serve white wine from 50F to 60F.
3) What temperature should red wine be chilled at?
Red wine is best served at roughly room temperature. Aim for 60F to 65F depending on the type of red wine in question.
4) Why can’t I just store my wine in the kitchen refrigerator?
You could but it will not be optimal. Storing bottles upright can cause the cork to dry out. The average kitchen fridge also fails in terms of temperature and humidity levels for wine storage. Beyond this, when you’re storing wine, you want a consistent environment. The door of the kitchen fridge is opened and closed far too often each day for it to make a viable wine store. In short, use a dedicated cooler if you’re serious about wine and you want to bring out the best qualities in it.
5) What’s the point of a dual-zone wine cooler?
If you regularly drink both red wine and white wine, you need to chill them to different temperatures. As outlined above, you will not achieve this in the kitchen fridge. A single-zone cooler does not allow you sufficient flexibility for storing mixed wines short-term.
6) What’s the difference between compressor-based cooling and thermoelectric cooling?
What counts for you, the consumer, is that a thermoelectric cooler is typically much quieter while a compressor wine cooler is louder but more able to deal with cooling larger batches of wine bottles.
7) Do I need to get my wine cooler professionally installed if I am building it in?
Only you know how comfortable you are with small DIY jobs. Installing most built-in wine coolers should take little more than an hour and some basic tools. If you’re happy with this type of project, there’s no need to call in a professional. If you do need a contractor, it should be a quick, cheap job.
8) Why do coolers need LED lights inside?
With LEDs, you get energy-efficient lighting – often in muted blue – so you can see your wine at a glance without endlessly opening and closing the doors. When you’re storing wine, you should strive for as consistent a temperature as possible to keep your wine at its finest.
Well, by now you should be absolutely clear on all aspects of storing your wine in a cooler at home.
If you decide a built-in cooler makes the wisest approach, you can rely on any of the models we highlight today. We have drawn attention to any limitations and included a broad spread of coolers so you’re spoiled for choice.
Also, if you decide to buy a cooler not on our shortlist, you’ve got all the buying guidance you need to make that decision with no time or trouble. Let us know how you get on.
Bookmark our site before you leave and come back soon. We’ve got a busy content calendar over the coming months so come back soon for more detailed wine guides.