Wine Cooler vs Mini Fridge: Differences, Similarities

Last Updated on January 17, 2022 by Tom

Wine cooler vs mini fridge – Which is worth the money? Sometimes users are a bit confused between these two appliances and don’t know if they should use a mini-fridge to store wine, or a wine fridge to store other foods. In today’s article, we will help you answer those questions and highlight the similarities and differences between wine cooler and mini fridge so you can make the right choice.

What is a Wine Cooler?

Wine Cooler vs Mini Fridge
wine cooler vs mini fridge

A wine cooler is an appliance designed to store your wine bottles and display your collection. It has the right temperature, humidity, and light specifically for wine. It comes in a variety of models and features such as custom shelves, vibration resistance, UV protection, and racks that hold the bottles in place to prevent collisions. 

Current models wine coolers have a capacity to hold from 12 to nearly 200 bottles, suitable for both individuals, families or restaurants, and hotels. The outside of the wine cooler is usually made of glass, allowing you and your guests to admire the neatly arranged, and luxurious wine bottles inside the cabinet. It’s a good opportunity if you want to showcase your collection.

Depending on your needs to choose the right one. If you’re a wine collector, then you might purchase a bigger one and consider a freestanding model that can be placed at your favorite location. However, if you and your family only own a few bottles, then a wine cooler with a capacity of 20-30 bottles is appropriate.

What is a Mini-fridge?

A mini-fridge, exactly as its name suggests, is a smaller version of a regular refrigerator used to store beverages. They can be located anywhere as they don’t take up much space, for example, in a college student’s dorm, a hotel room, at your office, or used to hold food allergens. The great thing is that they don’t consume that much electricity so you will be able to save some cash along the way.

Most mini-fridges have a capacity of 1.7 to 4.5 cubic feet. Bigger sizes also include a freezer compartment that can be used to store meat, ice, or frozen fruits and vegetables. Since it is compacted, it offers limited storage which restricts your choice, however, you can easily fit them into tight places. 

Before buying a mini-fridge, make sure you know if you need an indoor or an outdoor one as outdoor fridges are more powerful, and made out of materials that can protect them from the weather. Also, know how much space you have and leave about 2-3 inches (5-7cm) between the unit’s back and the wall for the heat to dissipate. 

Can a wine cooler be used as a refrigerator?

Ideally, a refrigerator cannot be replaced with a wine cooler due to its temperature difference. Not all food and drink beverages prefer a warmer environment such as eggs, leafy greens, cooked foods, or chopped vegetables. However, there are a few things that can be perfectly stored in a wine cooler.

Did you know that besides wines, we can also hold iced tea, soda, sparkling water, lemonade, and water bottles? Apples, pears, bananas (after-ripening), chocolate, soft cheese (40-45°F), hard cheese, and washed rind cheese (40-50°F) can also be stored. Another way is to cure any semi-dry meat if you want the meat to be crispy when cooked or grilled.

Those are great options but bear in mind that you cannot use a wine fridge as a daily refrigerator. It is acceptable to store them for a short period of time. Remember not to put anything with a strong odor like onions and garlic inside the wine cooler. 

Are home refrigerators ideal for wine storage?

Wine cannot be stored at cold temperatures, especially if it is below 46°F degrees (7.8°C). According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your home refrigerators should be set at or below 40° F (4°C). Therefore, they are not ideal places to store your wine as low temperature and humidity fluctuations can damage the quality of the wine.

Wine bottles placed in the refrigerator are not properly positioned nor do they have a dedicated location, which increases the risk of falling. In addition, the refrigerator preserves many foods and drinks with strong odors, so the wine can be contaminated with the smell from these foods. In particular, the vibrations from opening and closing the refrigerator door will make the wine spoil quickly.

If you pay attention, you will see that wine that stays for a long time in the refrigerator is very easy to lose flavor and the color often changes. Besides, the cork will shrink, allowing outside air, and aroma comes in. However, if your family only enjoys wine occasionally and usually drinks it all after a few days, it is still possible to store wine in the refrigerator.

Difference Between Wine cooler vs Mini fridge

Wine cooler vs mini fridge – Which is more ideal for use in wine storage? Well, knowing your concern, we are about to give you the similarities and differences between them, so you know what suits you best. 


The obvious commonality between them is they both preserve beverages in a cool environment. Further than that, both come in models that feature dual-zones, which means there are two temperatures in one device. Two different temperatures are convenient if you want to store several types of wines that require different temperatures while a normal fridge has a fridge and a freezer compartment that operate at the same time. 


The major difference between a wine fridge vs mini fridge is the temperature. A wine cooler ranges from 41°F (5°C) to 65°F (18°C) whereas a mini-fridge falls between 35°F (1.7°C) to 42°F (5.5°C). A wine cooler lowers the temperature gradually and maintains the humidity while a mini-fridge lowers the temperature rapidly and at the same time drives out the humidity.

The second difference is that wine coolers can be run by using advanced compressor-based cooling techniques or thermoelectric cooling, which means they generate little or no vibration while a mini-fridge produces constant vibrations. Frequent sediment disturbances will interfere with the quality of your wine.

The third contrast is in appearance. While a wine cabinet has a glass on the outside for everyone to admire the owner’s collection, a normal refrigerator doesn’t have that feature.

The fourth difference between them is the internal layout and the shelves. Normal refrigerators often have pre-installed shelves that can’t be adjusted while wine coolers have designated racks that can keep the bottles in a secure place. Keeping the bottles in place can make the aging process much faster and more efficient.

FAQs about wine fridge vs mini fridge

Mini Fridges are Colder than Wine Coolers

If you’re thinking mini-fridges are colder than wine coolers, you’re right. From the comparison between a wine cooler vs mini fridge above, wine coolers are warmer because wine cannot be stored under extreme temperatures like in a conventional fridge. In contrast, mini-fridges are designed to store beverages at a dry and cold level. 

Therefore, wine coolers have a higher temperature, therefore they are warmer. They are temperature controlled, thereby self-regulating to the right humidity level for your wine. 

Mini Fridges are Dryer than Wine Coolers

Mini fridges extract humidity out of the appliance, meaning if you were to put a bottle of wine in it, the cork will shrink and probably fall down into the wine. The cork will become porous, and any odors from other beverages will eventually penetrate into your wine and change its flavor. You don’t want to enjoy your wine with an aroma of milk, a leftover pizza, or a strong smell of garlic, do you?

Why Are Wine Coolers So Expensive?

First of all, the supply and demand mechanism. Look around you, your friends’ houses, how many of them own a wine cooler, and how many of them own a fridge? Not many of them are wine collectors and actually purchase a wine cooler but everyone needs a fridge to store their beverages, right?

That being said, fridges are always in demand, so they are generally less expensive, while wine fridges are a niche market and they only serve a specific group of consumers.

However, by far, that’s not the most important reason. Wine coolers are expensive because they are built with specialized functions and materials such as temperature control, UV protection, noise-free, and custom racks that your bottles can fit perfectly. They also come in a variety of styles, colors, added lights, and especially they can be built-in to fit right into your cabinet, which drives up the cost.

Their cost can range from $100 up to thousands of dollars. People often purchase a thermoelectric wine cooler because it doesn’t vibrate, keeping your wine undisturbed. Remember, vibrations are bad for your wine.

How to clean wine cooler vs mini fridge?

Frequently cleaning your appliances will help you identify any frost or moisture build-up that you can’t see, allowing you to take immediate action. We recommend cleaning both devices every 3-6 months.

Wine cooler: 

  1. Before doing anything, unplug your cooler and remove all the shelves and bottles (remember to keep them in a cool, dark area before you finish cleaning).
  2. Use a clean cloth and a mild detergent to clean the inside and outside of the device. Pay attention to what’s on the cloth. If it is mossy, you should check if it has damaged any part of your machine and remember to clean it up more often. 
  3. Mildly clean the shelves and racks.
  4. Dry the wet parts with a soft cloth.
  5. Reconnect the power and wait for it to cool down before re-inserting shelves, racks, and bottles.

Caution: Do not allow water to come into contact with any electronic or control parts.

Mini fridge:

  1. Unplug the fridge to start cleaning.
  2. Take all the food out and check their expiration dates and quality. Throw them away if needed.
  3. Mix 1 part baking soda, some dish soap and 7 parts hot water to clean the door, non-removable shelves, rubber seals and sticky residue around the fridge’s door. You can use a toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach areas.
  4. Take out shelves and drawers that are removable and hand-wash them with hot water and soap. If they are made of glass, let them cool at room temperature before washing, or else they may break.
  5. Sanitize your fridge by mixing 1 tablespoon (15mL) of liquid bleach and 3.8L of water. Wipe it all over your shelves, fridge, bottles, and containers.
  6. Remove the protective grill and use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment and gently sweep dust and debris off the coils. You can do this at least once a year or every 6 months if you have pets or your fridge’s coils, are located at its base. 
  7. Put everything back once you’ve finished. Place an opened box of baking soda to absorb any lingering and future odors. Switch to a new one after 2-3 months.
clean wine cooler vs mini fridge

When To Buy A Wine Cooler vs Mini Fridge 

Buy a wine cooler if you:

  1. Want to preserve your wine for a long time
  2. Care about the quality and want to keep its original taste 
  3. Have a couple of bottles
  4. Prefer a thermoelectric cooling


Buy a mini-fridge if you:

  1. Want to store multiple types of drinks and foods
  2. Want to spend less 
  3. Finish drinking wine in a short period of time

Final on wine fridge vs mini fridge

So, today’s article about wine cooler vs mini fridge has come to an end. We hope we have answered your questions about their working mechanisms, similarities, differences, and how to take care of them. Carefully consider their pros and cons to see if they fit what you need. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below so we can help you.

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