Wine Coolers vs Mini Fridges – Can A Fridge Do the Job?


Stuck trying to understand the differences between wine coolers vs mini fridges?

Unfortunately, this is a common issue. Choosing the wrong storage method can negatively impact the quality and taste of your favorite wine over time.

Don’t worry, though. In this article, you’ll learn all about their differences, so you can relax knowing that you’re making an informed decision.

The main difference between a wine cooler and a mini fridge is the temperature range. Wine should be stored between 45 °F and 65 °F, so the minimum temperature of wine coolers is 46 °F. The temperature range of a mini fridge is 35 °F to 42 °F, which is far too cold for wine.

But, can you use a wine cooler as a mini fridge? Maybe. Keep reading to learn more about this!

Wine Cooler vs Mini Fridge

First of all, let’s be very clear. We’re talking about wine coolers vs mini fridges, but they are entirely different appliances that do entirely different jobs. We’re just trying to ascertain if a fridge can be a stand-in for a wine cooler.

There’s a lot of science behind winemaking, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a lot of science behind wine storage too. I’m not going to get into detail here, I’ll just stick with the highlights.

Wine CoolersRefrigerators
Gradually drop temperatureRapidly drop temperature
Maintain humidityExtract humidity
41°F to 65°F35°F to 42°F

Here are the main differences between wine coolers and mini fridges:

#1 Temperature

It’s essential to store your wine at the correct temperature to make sure it tastes as it should.

The ideal temperature for storing wine may depend on the type of wine, but it typically falls between 45 °F and 65 °F.

A fridge, on the other hand, typically maintains an average temperature of about 40 °F to keep a wide range of perishables cold and dry.

Unfortunately, this temperature is too cold for your wine and can negatively affect its taste and aroma.

Adjusting fridge temperature
One of the main differences between wine coolers and mini fridges is their temperature settings.

#2 Humidity Levels

Humidity levels are also an essential factor you need to consider when comparing wine coolers vs mini fridges.

You see, wine requires a specific humidity level (50% – 70%) and unfortunately, a fridge is too dry for your corked wine bottles.

Mini fridge vs wine cooler
Mini-Fridges do not have the right humidity levels necessary for storing wine

A dry cork shrinks and becomes porous. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, wrong. Because, remember all the foods you have in your fridge? The sheer diversity of tastes—and odors? Like the cartons of leftover spicy Thai, or whatever your guilty pleasure is?

Those odors will slither past and through that dried-out cork and right into your wine. And your wine will now have a subtle after note of something in the fridge—something that will likely ruin the taste of your wine.

There is one final difference that should be mentioned. A mini fridge will vibrate. Actually, any fridge will, since they are cooled using compressors whereas wine coolers are thermoelectric. Vibration is bad for wine.

#3 Price

When deciding between wine coolers and mini fridges, you need to keep in mind your budget.

Wine coolers tend to be much more expensive than mini fridges. A quick search online for the price range of a small—20 – 39 bottles—wine cooler returned prices of about $300 to $3,500.

A mini fridge will cost you anywhere from about $160 to $1,500.

But, why are wine coolers so expensive? There are a few reasons:

There is a lot of competition when it comes to refrigerators. Every household needs one, and they are coming off assembly lines regularly. So prices tend to be more reasonable.

That’s not the case for a wine cooler. These items are part of a niche market, which usually equates to a seller’s market and higher prices.

Wine coolers price
Wine coolers are more expensive than mini fridges due to their unique features.

The other reason is something more tangible. As mentioned above, some wine coolers use thermoelectric technology, which powers an always-on fan.

They don’t have a motor. An electric current is used instead, which produces a temperature differential by means of a metal rod. 

Since these types of coolers are impacted by the temperatures surrounding them, they can be inefficient and costly to run in hotter conditions.

Can You Use a Mini Fridge as a Wine Cooler?

Can you? Sure. Should you? The short answer to that is maybe.

If you are some high-brow wine connoisseur, you’d probably choke at the mere suggestion, but I’m guessing that type isn’t reading this article in the first place. For the rest of you, the answer remains—it depends.

It depends on how long you want to store your wine. If you’re looking for a cool place to store an assortment of beverages, and you’ll be turning over your stock fairly often, a fridge is sufficient. According to Wine Spectator, wine can be stored in the fridge for up to a couple of months.

However, if you are looking for more long-term storage, you need to look into a wine cellar or cooler. Otherwise, you will destroy your wine investment.

Is A Wine Cooler Worth It?

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on that. Because everyone’s needs are going to be different.

You’ll note above that there’s quite a price range when it comes to wine coolers. And while the better ones do run on thermoelectric power, it’s still possible to buy brands that use simple compressors as refrigerators do.

Just remember that compressors tend to cause vibrations, and vibration can be problematic for your wine.

If you want to store your wine for more than a few months and having steady temps above 45 degrees is your aim, then you definitely need a wine cooler. And it will be worth it. Especially if you can be happy with one of the lower-end models.


That about covers it! I hope that this article has helped you understand the main differences between wine coolers and mini fridges.

Here’s a quick summary of everything we’ve discussed so far:

Buy a wine cooler if:

  • You want to store your wine for more than a few months
  • You are only interested in storing wine bottles
  • You prefer the choice of thermoelectric power

Buy a mini fridge if:

  • Your goal is to store multiple types of beverages
  • You will drink all wine within a few months
  • You want to spend less

Thanks for reading! Please make sure to check out the related articles below.

Have a great day!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more