What is the Difference Between a Wine Cooler and Wine Cabinet?

Custom residential wine cellar by Vinotemp

As you shop for wine storage options, you may notice that wine coolers and wine cabinets appear to be similar.

Both wine cabinets and wine refrigerators control the temperature of a wine’s environment and include wine racking. There are some notable differences and similarities between wine coolers and wine cabinets that should be considered before purchasing.


The most obvious way wine coolers and cabinets differ is how they look. Wine coolers are primarily a combination of metal and glass, most closely resembling a traditional kitchen refrigerator with the bonus of a glass door and specialized racking. Wine coolers are available in various finishes, from all black to stainless steel, making them a perfect match for existing kitchen appliances. Wine cabinets most closely resemble a cabinet with wood doors, metal handles, and furniture-like finishes that help them blend into a living or dining room. When it comes to aesthetics, some who prefer a more modern look will opt for a wine cooler, while those who love the rich, earthy appearance of wood will favor a wood wine cabinet.


Wine ages best in a space that maintains a consistent 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Wine coolers and cabinets can maintain a steady temperature ideal for wine storage. Wine coolers and wine cabinets are available with single or multiple temperature zones, which allows you to organize your wine by varietal or based on which wine you would like to uncork next. One zone can be designated for storage, while another can be set to serving temperature. Select wine cabinets and wine coolers are available for indoor/outdoor use, which means they can be installed in a garage or basement where the ambient temperature may fluctuate.


There is a difference in humidity control between wine cabinets and wine coolers. Wine cabinets use a cellar cooling system to control the conditions inside the cabinet. Depending on the cellar cooling system you use, it will maintain humidity inside the cabinet. Wine coolers do not offer humidity control, but you can add humidity to the cabinet by placing a wet sponge in a small dish inside the cooler or selecting a wine refrigerator that has a charcoal filter. To read the humidity levels of both a wine cabinet or wine fridge, you can use a cellar monitoring system or hygrometer to alert you when the humidity is out of the desired range.

Wine Racking

Wood wine cabinets and wine coolers are available with different styles of wine racks. Wood cabinets can have all-metal wine racks, wood wine racks, a combination of wood and metal, acrylic wine racks, and more. Wine coolers also have a variety of wine racking styles using metal and wood. The primary difference is that the racking for wood wine cabinets can be customized, whereas a wine cooler’s wine racks cannot be customized. The most important thing to look for when observing a wine cooler or cabinet’s racks is whether or not the bottles will be held horizontally and if the wine racks are sturdy.


Both wine cabinets and wine coolers are subject to repairs over time. Wine cabinets utilize a cellar cooling system to control the temperature and humidity of the cabinet. If repairs are needed to the cellar cooling system, it is easy to find a specialist to repair the cooling unit or send it to the manufacturer for a fix. The cellar cooling system can easily be replaced as needed. Refrigeration specialists can repair wine coolers. Sometimes, the entire fridge must be replaced instead of just one part if the cooler is beyond repair.


There is a price difference between wine coolers and wine cabinets. Wine fridges are budget-friendly and require little lead time after purchase. Some wine cabinets may be as cheap as a wine cooler but require a significant lead time if they are made to order. The more custom features are added to a wine cabinet, the higher the price. Additionally, depending on the size of the wine cabinet or wine cooler, white-glove service may be required to deliver the unit and install it properly, impacting the overall cost.

Wine cabinets and wine coolers are great ways to organize and store wine. Do you still have questions about whether you should buy a wine cooler or wine cabinet? Contact Vinotemp today to speak with a cellar expert. Contact us with our Contact Form.