Wine Cabinets vs. Wine Coolers: Is there a Difference?

Tall Cabinet Wood Wrap by Vinotemp

If you have been shopping for wine storage options, you may be wondering whether a wine cabinet or wine cooler is the best storage option.

Both wine cabinets and wine refrigerators are temperature-controlled, and both include wine racking. While cabinets and coolers certainly have similarities, some differences can affect your decision to purchase. Read on to learn the differences and similarities between wine coolers and wine cabinets.

dual glass door wood wine wine cabinet
Residential custom wine cabinet by Vinotemp

Temperature and Humidity

Wine cabinets are available in two different categories; those that act as a passive wine cellar and those designed as an active wine cellar. A passive wine cabinet does not have a cellar cooling system and may not have insulation or seals. Passive wine cabinets are furniture with wine racks and many also offer storage areas for wine accessories and glasses. An active wine cabinet includes a cellar cooling system, insulation, and door gaskets that offer a tight seal. Depending on the cellar cooling system selected for the wine cabinet, the cabinet will maintain a consistent temperature and humidity. One of the advantages of wine cabinets is their cellar cooling units can easily be replaced once they stop working.

Wine refrigerators, like active wine cabinets, also offer temperature control. Like the cellar cooling system inside a wine cabinet, the cooling system of a wine fridge will maintain a consistently cool temperature. Unlike a cellar cooling system, the cooling system of a wine cooler does not maintain humidity, but there are options to add humidity to the wine refrigerator. One alternative is to purchase a wine fridge with a charcoal filter that maintains humidity and eliminates unwanted odors. If a wine cooler’s compressor needs repair, fixing it is similar to hiring a technician to service a kitchen refrigerator.

two stainless and glass wine coolers installed side by side
Stainless Steel Wine and Beverage Cooler by Vinotemp

Installation and Style

Wine cabinets are large furniture-style pieces that make a large footprint in a room. Many wine cabinets are comparable in size to a large entertainment cabinet with doors. However, some wine cabinets can be custom-made to fit into unused spaces, such as under the stairs or in an unused closet.

Wine cabinets are available in a variety of designs and finishes to match nearly any style. Modern or minimalist wine cabinets have all-glass doors, pole handles, metal wine racking, and a streamlined cellar cooling system. Traditional wine cabinets feature an all-wood exterior, wood or metal wine racking, and timeless handles in black or oil-rubbed bronze. Whether you love a rustic or modern aesthetic, there is a wine cabinet that will match your space.

Wine refrigerators are available for various installations, including built-in or freestanding. Built-in wine fridges have a front exhaust which allows them to be recessed into existing cabinetry. Freestanding models exhaust hot air towards the back and should not be built into cabinetry or placed under a counter or table.

Wine refrigerators are made in many different sizes, finishes, and styles. Smaller wine fridges that accommodate 12 bottles or less can be placed on a countertop or table. Medium-sized wine coolers are often designed to take up the space in a kitchen once occupied by a trash compactor or dishwasher. Larger wine coolers are about the same size as a kitchen refrigerator. One of the best features of wine fridges is you can add more wine units as your collection grows. Additionally, wine refrigerators often have a beverage refrigerator that matches, providing ample storage space for beer and other drinks. Wine coolers are made in many different colors, including stainless steel, black, mirrored, white, and panel-ready.

Wine Racking

There are countless racking options for both wine cooler and wine cabinets. Budget-conscious wine fridges usually have metal wine racks that can be adjusted as required. Wine coolers may also have upgraded wine racks with wood lips or extra features that help to cradle the bottle in place. Since many wine cabinets are customizable, the wine racking options are also diverse. As long as a wine rack is made to attach to a sturdy vertical surface, it may work in a wine cabinet. Traditional wine racking in a wine cabinet is all wood or a mix of all metal and wood. More modern wine racking may be all-metal or acrylic and give the appearance the bottles are floating inside the cabinet.

Price and Shipping

The biggest factors to differentiate a wine cabinet from a wine fridge are price and shipping time. Wine cabinets can be more expensive, especially if they are custom-made. Custom cabinets also take longer to ship since they are made to order. Ready-to-ship or ready-made wine cabinets can be similar in price to a large wine cooler. In general, wine coolers are cheaper than wine cabinets and can ship quickly. Whether you purchase a wine cabinet or wine cooler depends on your budget, space, and style. If you need help choosing between a wine cabinet or wine cooler, our sales team can help. Contact us today with our Contact Form or shop 24/7.