What is a Wine Cooler?

You have probably heard of a wine cooler. If you’re a wine aficionado, then the term has probably arisen many times. But what exactly is a wine cooler?

Well, the term has a range of meanings. It can refer to either a wine bucket, a beverage, or an appliance. Different dialects even have different meanings.

Just look in the Collins Dictionary and there is a clear distinction between the British and American English meanings of this phrase.

To find out more, we are going to discuss the different types of wine coolers available. We will find out what a wine cooler does and whether you need one in your life.

Wine Coolers: In detail

According to the dictionary, Americans see a wine cooler as a refreshing drink that is obtained from wine and juice.

To add fizz to the wine cooler, a carbonated drink such as soda or carbonated water is added. The beverage is usually chilled and then served with ice during the hotter, summer months. 

Wine coolers tend to be made with poor-quality wine. Sometimes, they are even made with other alcoholic beverages despite their namesake. Some famous wine coolers that are made with the highest-quality ingredients include Kir and Sangria.

On the other hand, there is the British terminology. The term wine cooler is used to define a bucket-like vessel. This is filled with ice and used to chill a bottle of wine in before being served. 

When in the hospitality industry, this vessel is often called a wine bucket so there is a clear distinction between the vessel and a refrigerator. 

Restaurateurs often call wine refrigerators wine coolers. This is to distinguish between a container filled with ice and a fridge that has been specifically made to preserve and chill wines.

Understanding a wine cooler

Ever since restaurateurs started to call wine refrigerators “wine coolers”, enthusiasts from all over the world adopted the term and began to use it in the same way.

Wine coolers (the appliance kind), can be single or dual zone. They can use either a thermoelectric element or a standard compressor system when the wine needs to be chilled.

Some advanced models come with complementary features such as regulating the cooler’s humidity.

All wine coolers will have these features in common:

  • An adjustable temperature – Both single and dual-zone coolers can adjust the temperature which usually varies between 24 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A glass door – Although seen as refrigerators, wine coolers are so much more than that. They preserve and display expensive and precious wines.

Just about every wine cooler on the market has a door that is made from tempered glass. This protects the bottles inside from harmful UV rays and allows you to see the contents of the refrigerator at all times. 

  • Removable racks – Wine coolers store your bottle in the same way as a wine cellar. In other words, the bottles are stacked in a horizontal manner that lies on either a wooden or wire rack.

The size of a standard Bordeaux wine bottle determines how far apart the racks should be. However, these racks are usually completely removable. This allows you to store larger bottles if required. 

Single vs Dual Zone: Which is best?

It’s pretty simple to understand the names of wine coolers. A single zone cooler is an appliance that has just one refrigeration zone while a dual model has two zones. 

In single zone wine coolers, the temperature is maintained at the same level in the entire environment. These models tend to be most popular with those wanting to preserve their wine collections for a long time rather than chilling before serving. 

It is a common misconception that different wines have various requirements when it comes to preservation. However, red and white wines require the same preservation temperature as each other. This is usually around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take a traditional wine cellar. These do not have adjustable temperature features but winemakers have still succeeded in preserving their wines for centuries.

By aging the wine in the same environment, various types, red and white, maintain their quality or improve with age.

When you want to chill wines before serving, things are a little different. Red and whites require different serving temperatures so, in this case, a dual-zone wine cooler is the best option.

Dual-zone coolers provide two environments that can be adjusted to different temperature levels.

These features are very useful if you want to invest in a wine cooler for a tasting room or small wine store. With these dual-zone wine coolers, you will be able to keep several bottles at serving temperatures at all times. 

The good news is that there are dozens of single and dual-zone coolers on the market to suit all kinds of budgets. 

Thermoelectric and Compressor wine coolers

The majority of wine lovers consider thermoelectric wine coolers to be the best choice. These use thermoelectric technology to maintain a cool temperature.

However, they are not the most efficient at chilling bottles. The technology uses a fan system that expels warm air from the cooler. This keeps the internal environment cooler than the exterior room temperature. 

Unfortunately, thermoelectric coolers tend to struggle when keeping a constant temperature if the room temperature exceeds 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is due to the lack of a sufficient cooling system.

Compressor wine coolers have the same refrigeration technology as traditional fridges. You set the temperature, close the door, and the cooler does the rest.

The outside environmental temperature has no bearing on the appliance’s inside temperature. This is great at maintaining a constant temperature. 

Although they both have pros and cons, it is difficult to choose between thermoelectric and compressor wine coolers. On one hand, thermoelectric technology is environmentally friendlier and the whole cooler is quieter due to fewer vibrations. 

Compressor technology, on the other hand, is not as eco-friendly. They also tend to be rather noisy with a higher level of vibrations.

Not only is this distracting but it can disturb the wine sediment. But as compressor technology is effective at keeping the temperature constant, your bottle remains cool.

So, what are wine coolers? If you were to ask us, they’re simply refrigerators. What are they to you? Let us know! 

Christina Day
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