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Published Jul. 27, 2021

Treat beverages with respect by storing them in a high-tech, elegant chiller. Not only will this free up room in the crowded kitchen fridge, but these coolers can be fine-tuned to maintain consistent temperatures. A must-have for wine enthusiasts and up-and-coming sommeliers, a dedicated wine fridge gives you the power of a wine cellar without breaking through your home’s foundation. With a beverage fridge, beer and soda are kept at deliciously cold temperatures that make even budget-priced cans of college brew taste more sophisticated. With unique styles and options, find the best beverage cooler to turn any room, garage, or basement into your own upscale lounge.

What to consider when shopping for the best beverage cooler

Obviously using a plastic bucket filled with ice isn’t the best way to keep drinks cold. You need a dedicated beverage cooler that’s easy to control, easy to access, and easy to look at. Today’s beverage coolers are sleek and stylish mini-fridges designed specifically for wine bottles, beer bottles, and soda cans. Whether you want to equip your private bar or simply need a way to properly store wine in the kitchen, the best beverage cooler turns any room into a space to relax and chill.

Why not use the kitchen fridge?

The kitchen fridge is fine for storing groceries and stashing leftovers, but the interior space is a big wide open room. That means it’s difficult to control the temperature and humidity inside the fridge. Plus, the kitchen fridge is a heavily used appliance with a door that’s constantly opened and closed by hungry family members. That makes maintaining a consistent internal environment difficult. 

The kitchen fridge is also a terrible place to store wine. Most fridges only let you stand the bottles of wine vertically. This is fine if you plan to drink the wine soon, but for storing wine, it’s always best to lay the bottle horizontally. You want the liquid inside to touch the cork to prevent the cork from drying out and crumbling to pieces. 

But perhaps the biggest reason to move your drinks to a beverage cooler is space. Real estate inside the kitchen fridge is at a premium. By giving all cans and bottles a new home, you free up space for that Thanksgiving turkey, a big casserole dish, or that industrial-sized jar of mayonnaise.

What are you having: wine, soda or beer?

You have several options to choose from when shopping for a beverage fridge. Do you want to store bottles of wine, cans, or both? Wine coolers are better at holding bottles and often have specific features for keeping your grownup grape juice at the optimal temperature. Both red and white wine should be stored at 55 degrees Fahrenheit (serving temperature for each will be different, but more on that later). Kitchen fridges keep things at a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s too cold for wine. Wine coolers often won’t be able to dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re great for wine, but may not be ideal for beer and soda.

Mini fridges designed for cans may be simpler and smaller. Beer fridges can get colder, almost to a fault. And they may not have the clear glass door of a wine cooler. So if showing off your collection of craft beer bottles is important, make sure it has a transparent door.

Of course, the best option may be a combination of a beer and wine cooler. These dual units are larger and typically have one side dedicated to wine and the other designed for cans of beer or soda, with temperature controls for each chamber. 

What are dual-temperature chambers?

A dual-temperature beverage cooler is aptly named. These coolers have two separate zones that can be set to different temperatures. This is a must for serious wine drinkers who need the ability to chill white and red wine at appropriate temperatures. You should store white and red wine long-term at the same temperature (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit), but white wine is best served slightly chilled (between 49 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit). With dual-temperature chambers, you have space for chilling the white wine you plan on serving soon. 

Dual-temperature chambers are also perfect for keeping beer and wine at the perfect temperature at the same time. Beer connoisseurs will often argue about the right beer temperature, but generally speaking a can or bottle of beer should be colder than 55 degrees and warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (But do whatever tastes best to you. No judgement here.)

Noise and vibration

It’s tough work keeping drinks cold, and to get the job done the beverage cooler must make noise. The compressor of the beverage cooler will kick on and can generate 38 decibels of sound. As a general rule, most people get annoyed at any humming over 40 decibels, so the noise level is something to consider. The beverage cooler may list the noise level in the specifications. If you’re putting the cooler in a quiet office, bedroom, or home theater, the humming may be distracting. 

Wine drinkers must also pay attention to vibrations. If the cooler can kick up enough wiggle and wobble to disturb the sediment in a bottle of wine, it may alter the taste of the wine. While this won’t be a deal breaker for most beverage cooler customers, those looking for a dedicated wine fridge will want a unit that’s quiet and sits still.

Size and installation

Most beverage coolers are designed for convenience, and can fit into tight spaces. An 18-inch by 19-inch by 18-inch cooler with 1.5 cubic feet of interior space can comfortably hold 60 cans or 17 bottles of wine. And that’s on the smaller end of the cooler-size spectrum. A mid-sized 24-inch beverage cooler can hold 120 cans and more than 30 bottles of wine. Keep in mind, though, the bigger you go, the more cumbersome the appliance. 

Freestanding coolers can live anywhere you have the room, but for specific spaces you may need a built-in cooler. The difference is the venting. Built-in beverage coolers can slide under bars or into tight cabinetry because the front-facing vent channels heat forward. A freestanding cooler will channel heat out the back. If there’s no room in the back for air circulation, the freestanding unit will overheat, overcompensate for the extra heat, and burn out fast. 

The best beverage coolers

Pick your beverage of choice and find a cooler that fits your home and your budget. Wine drinkers will need to pay close attention to temperature controls and vibrations. Those drinking bottles of beer and cans of soda will be less restricted. And dual-temperature units can be the answer to all your beverage cooling problems.

Top pick overall: Whynter BR-130SB Beverage Refrigerator

Keeps Cans Cold

If you’re a fan of canned drinks, this is a chiller for all your favorite pop tops. Whynter

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The Whynter beverage refrigerator is perfect for keeping cans cold. It can fit 120 cans inside the 5.75-cubic-foot interior, enough for a big party or large family. But it may be too big for a single person. Temperatures can be set between 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can arrange the five slide-out shelves to accommodate bigger cans and bottles, though this model isn’t ideal for wine. The stainless-steel exterior and clear glass door look sharp, even if it’s only being used in a garage.

Runner up: Antarctic Star Beverage Refrigerator

Compact Design

Small on the outside but roomy on the inside. Antarctic Star

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A step up from the teeny-tiny micro fridges found in college dorms, the Antarctic Star beverage cooler measures 17.7 inches by 16.9 inches by 29.1 inches and fits nicely in an apartment kitchen. It holds about 100 cans or 24 wine bottles. The temperature is easy to adjust for cooling wine. It’s also surprisingly quiet and doesn’t rattle—another plus for those living in apartments. While you shouldn’t use this as a replacement for the kitchen fridge, you can store small food items inside like limes and lemons for party cocktails. And at 44 pounds, it’s not too difficult to move to a new apartment or home.

Great beverage cooler for vino: Ivation Compressor Wine Cooler Refrigerator

Optimal Conditions

An elegant way to store and display your collection. Ivation

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For storing wine, the Ivation wine cooler is the next best thing to having your own wine cellar. The easy-to-control cooler keeps wine at the perfect temperature. The glass door is tinted to protect against UV light. The lock keeps your prized bottles safe and secure. And best of all, it’s a quiet, vibration-free cooler. The 31-inch-tall chest holds 12 bottles of wine. And the soft interior light won’t blind you when you open the door. It’s the best wine cooler for both sophisticated drinkers or those who toss back glasses of grocery-store wine.

Premium pick: Aobosi Beverage and Wine Cooler Dual Zone

Versatile And Powerful

This freestanding pick can handle any drink order at your in-home bar. AAOBOSI

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This dual-temperature cooler is more expensive than most beverage fridges, but it’s tough to beat the two-chamber temperature control. Keep wine a little warmer and beer a little colder with the intuitive, programmable beverage cooler. It works well as an under-counter wine fridge, thanks to the front-facing vent. It can hold 18 wine bottles in one chamber and 57 cans in the other chamber, so all your beverage needs are well-covered. For basement bars and garage lounges, this is the perfect chilly bartender-in-a-box.

Budget pick beverage cooler: Frigidaire EFMIS129-RED Mini Portable Fridge

Tiny Tabletop Gadget

An affordable and adorable way to keep your drinks moderately chilled. FRIGIDAIRE

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The personal Frigidaire mini fridge is not meant to keep drinks ice cold. The thermoelectric cooling system can only chill drinks down about 20 degrees lower than the room temperature, and it doesn’t work well on hot days. But for less than $40, this is a fun way to keep lunchtime sodas refreshing. It can hold six cans and it’s very quiet, so it’s good for sitting on or under a work desk. If you don’t need to blast-chill your beverage, this is a handy and eye-catching little cooler that will do an adequate job.

FAQs

Q: Can you keep beer in a wine cooler?

Yes, you can keep beer in a wine cooler. But remember: Wine is stored at a temperature warmer than a kitchen fridge. If you like your beer icy and cold, don’t use a wine cooler. Many wine coolers won’t even drop to temps lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Beer enthusiasts will tell you Americans drink our beer too cold. Some will say 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for beer enjoyment. And, they may be right. But try telling that to taste buds that have grown used to drinking beer at a frigid 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you use a wine cooler to store beer? Of course. But the beer will never get super cold. And you shouldn’t store wine in a beer fridge, for the same reason—the beer fridge may be too cold for proper wine consumption. A dual-temperature chamber fridge is the best way to keep beer and wine separately and properly chilly.

Q: Why are beverage coolers so expensive?

Beverage refrigerators are so expensive because they are major household appliances. While they look small and cute, these cold boxes are mechanical powerhouses that use a compressor to keep drinks cold. But you don’t need to empty your wallet to keep a Dr. Pepper cold. You can find a great beverage fridge for less than $200, if you don’t need a lot of room. You can even find feature-rich wine coolers for about $200. Dual-temperature coolers will be more expensive, sometimes twice as much, for obvious reasons—you’re getting two fridges in one unit. Be wary of any beverage cooler that costs less than $100. It’s probably very small and the compressor will only last a few months. It’s worth the extra money to buy a dependable unit.

Q: What is the coldest beverage cooler?

The Whynter BR-130SB Beverage Refrigerator is the coldest beverage fridge on this list. It can cool drinks down to a frosty 30 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, you probably don’t want to go colder than that. Bottles will break and burst when you hit freezing temperatures. Even cans will buckle when you drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking for a way to keep ice cubes frozen and ice cream solid, you don’t need a beverage cooler. You need a freezer. (Freezers are also good for keeping vodka and other hard alcohol cold.)

The final word on the best beverage cooler

There are multiple ways to keep your drinks cold. Wine coolers ensure your reds and whites never get too cold or too warm. A beer cooler provides quick access to well-chilled cans and bottles. And dual-temperature coolers give you the best of both worlds. Be aware of the noise level and keep an eye on your budget. And if you plan to place the cooler under a cabinet or against a wall, make sure the compressor has room to breathe. With that in mind, you’re ready to transform the kitchen, bedroom, den, or garage into the neighborhood hot (and cold) spot.

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