Wine Cabinets vs. Wine Coolers: Which to Choose and Why?

As a wine aficionado, you need to know the best ways to store your wine collection, so you can age it perfectly, and enjoy your wine at its finest. It’s really important to store your wine properly – just as important as every other aspect of wine is, really.

Since you might need a fair bit of space for a cellar – space you might not have, unless you have a basement – you might want to take a look at wine coolers and cabinets instead. You’re probably thinking to yourself, one’s just as good as the other, right? Well, yes, and no.

It’s like apples and oranges….

You know the saying. They’re both fruit, but they’re not quite the same. That logic applies to coolers and cabinets. What makes them remarkably different from each other? Design, function, and most of all, temperatures. See, wines have two temperatures you need to consider. One of them, is the serving temperature.  The other, is the storage temperature.

Serving Temperature

It’s exactly what it sounds like: the temperature you should serve your wine at. If you want your wine to taste absolutely phenomenal, then you need to know the exact temperatures at which you should serve them. Serving temperatures will vary from vintage to vintage, but here’s a quick and dirty guide you can refer to when you need it:

Serve red wine at 16 – 19 °C

Serve light reds at 11 – 13 °C

Serve rosé at 9 – 10 °C

Serve dry whites at 7 – 10 °C

Serve sweet wines at 5 – 6 °C

If you’re a stickler for serving your wines at the correct temperature, then you absolutely need to get a wine cooler.

Storage Temperature

Still exactly what it sounds like. This is the ideal temperature at which you want to store your wine, so it can keep long, and age well. Learn more about wine storage, temperature and aging on this page that summarizes the question very well.

If you need to store your wines, to age them, you need a wine cabinet. No, you can’t just store them in a fridge. Your trusty old fridge is not designed to store wine in the best condition possible for aging. It has to be stored with the correct temperature, and must be free of vibrations and odors – something your regular fridge is perpetually plagued with.

You’re probably wondering, “Can I just age my wine in a wine cooler?” Well, again, yes and no. Yes, you can age your wine in a cooler, but we wouldn’t advise you to do that for longer than a year. After that, the quality of your wine would be a bit compromised. You’re much better off aging your wine at room temperature.

Know what’s even better? Yes! A wine cabinet! Maybe we’re being redundant here, but it needs to be said: a true wine aficionado needs one. If you’re not totally sure what a wine cabinet looks like, have a look at the ones on IWA Wine for example. They’re designed to store your collections for years and years, which is just perfect for aging your wine. They’re also constructed to mimic the same conditions you’d find in a proper wine cellar, which makes it perfect for you to age your wines.

The best wine storage cabinets have a consistent temperature (usually at about 12 °C), provide excellent humidity, get rid of odors, vibrations, and block out light.

Want to be sure you don’t disturb your aging bottles unnecessarily? Make use of wine bottle tags, so you can tell which bottle is which without having to take them out.

So what do I need?

If you want to keep your wine at the best temperature for serving, when you’re ready to drink it, then you definitely need to get a wine cooler. Be sure to pick one that has dual-zone temperature, or if you can, a triple-zone temperature make and model. This way, you can store different kinds of wines, at different temperatures that work for them, in the same cooler, at the same time, until it’s time to pop the bottles.

If you’re interested in aging your wine, but don’t have a cellar, then definitely invest in a cabinet. As we’ve already explained, they’re the perfect replacement for the original environment a cellar provides, which allows your wine to age perfectly.

There’s a third option…

You could simply get yourself a multifunctional wine cabinet.  This kind of cabinet usually has  a door made of UV protected glass, and has at least two serving temperature zones, with one being much cooler than the other one, and also allows you store your wines as well. While long-term storage would still be much better with a regular wine cabinet, this multifunctional version does the job just fine, in the short run.

Now you know the difference between wine cabinets and wine coolers. You know exactly what you need. Which one will you spring for? Cabinets, or coolers, or both? We vote both.


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