A wine fridge is an appliance that’s designed to store your wine at the right temperature - although most modern wine fridges will ensure your wine is protected against other storage factors such as humidity, sunlight, and movement.
Your wine bottles need a little humidity, so most wine coolers will regulate humidity levels between 50% and 70%. If there isn’t enough humidity, the cork could dry out and slip out of place, exposing your wine to oxygen. This could also lead to your wine leaking inside the wine cooler. However, too much humidity can cause condensation around the bottle, leading to mould growth. It can also ruin the labels, which is something no wine collector wants to occur.
Some wine coolers have glass doors, which are always UV-protected to ensure that your wine doesn’t get damaged by sunlight. Sunlight can speed up the ageing process and cause unwanted and irreversible chemical reactions within the wine's body.
Most wine fridges are designed to store standard Bordeaux bottles, but you can find wine coolers suitable for larger bottles. You can also find wine fridges that feature adjustable shelves and display shelves, which allows you to store larger bottles and display your favourite or most expensive wines.
Wine fridges come in three main designs - freestanding, built-in, and integrated. Freestanding wine fridges stand freely and should have a few inches of space around the rear and sides of the unit to allow space for ventilation - as the vents are located at the rear of the unit. Freestanding wine fridges should also have around 12 inches of space above the unit to prevent overheating. Built-in and integrated wine fridges are designed to be installed in kitchen space, whether it be under kitchen counters, inside kitchen cabinets, or even built into the wall.
Although wine fridges can protect your wine from sunlight, minimise vibrations, and regulate humidity levels, the primary function of a wine fridge is to keep your wine cool. You can find wine coolers with single temperature zones, dual temperature zones, and multiple temperature zones.
Single zone wine fridges are wine fridges that have one single temperature zone throughout the unit, which is ideal for long-term wine storage. Dual temperature zones allow you to store different types of wine in the same unit for serving, as different wines have different serving temperatures. You can also use a dual-zone wine fridge to keep some of your wine collection in the long term at one temperature, whilst preparing other bottles for serving at another temperature.
Wine coolers that have multiple temperature zones will often use polyvalent technology, which allows you to use up to six temperature zones within the same unit. Keep reading to learn what temperature you should set your wine fridge at for short-term wine storage, and what temperature you should set your wine fridge at for long-term wine storage.
When you store wine in the short term, it’s usually for serving. Different wines have different serving temperatures - usually colder than long-term storage temperatures. The temperature at which you should store your wine in the short term depends entirely on the type of wine.
Sparkling wines such as Champagne and Prosecco and lighter-bodied wines such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are best served at colder temperatures - typically between 3-7°C. If you’re partial to rosé or fuller-bodied whites (e.g Chardonnay), then it’s recommended that you store your wine at around 7-12°C. Lighter red wines and medium-bodied reds are best stored at cool temperatures, typically between 12-15°C. This is seen as the standard wine fridge temperature range.
Bolder reds are best served and stored at slightly warmer temperatures to match their complex flavours - so be sure to set your wine fridge to 15-20°C if you plan on serving your bolder reds. If your collection consists of dessert wines, then the temperature at which you store and serve the wine depends on the style. Short-term storage generally refers to less than six months of storage. Anything over this, we recommend you follow our guide to long-term storage below.
Long-term wine storage classes as wine stored for longer than six months. Storage temperatures for long-term wine storage are usually higher than serving temperatures - so if you plan on serving your wine that has been stored for over six months, then you’re best off placing it in another fridge that’s set at serving temperature, or placing it in another compartment if it’s a dual-zone wine fridge.
Unlike short-term wine storage, wine stored in the long term is best stored at one single temperature regardless of whether it’s red, white, or sparkling. Most manufacturers and wine experts recommend that you store your wine collection in the range of 11°C and 14°C for long-term wine storage - so the majority of wine coolers will have this as their preset temperature.
People store wine in the long term for many reasons - simply so it’s out of the way but will taste as great after a year or so, to age the wine, or to invest in the wine and sell it once it’s reached peak maturity. If you keep your wine at temperatures that are too warm, then your wine may develop an irreversible cooked taste, as well as develop unwanted and unpleasant aromas and flavours.
You should also ensure that you don’t store your wine at temperatures that are too low - as this could put your wine at risk of freezing. This can cause your wine to lose its natural flavours, as well as damage the bottle - which means your wine may leak inside the fridge.