You might think wine coolers are nothing but a fancier name for a refrigerator. After all, they’re both boxy, cold, and store stuff. But in reality, there are subtle differences that set the two apart.
A wine cooler can be used as a refrigerator for wine and beer, but not food. Wine coolers do not get as cold as regular refrigerators to preserve the wine’s quality. Their lowest temperature setting is about 50°F (10°C), which might not be cold enough for some foods.
Different food items have unique values of optimal storage conditions, such as temperature and humidity levels. Food items like bread might not be so high maintenance, but milk and eggs can be. Read on to know more about what you can and cannot store in a wine cooler.
Standard Refrigerators vs. Wine Coolers
Regular refrigerators and wine coolers differ in the average temperatures they run at due to the nature of the items they store. Most food and drink items have specific storage temperature levels that are ideal for their preservation.
Food needs colder conditions to prevent spoilage, whereas freezing temperatures aren’t ideal for wine, which sets refrigerators and wine coolers apart.
Storing wine in a regular refrigerator can deteriorate its quality. Wine should generally be kept at around 52°F (11°C) to 57°F (14°C) to maintain its quality at the highest level. Hence, wine coolers run at 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.56°C).
Regular refrigerators, on the other hand, run much colder at around 40°F (4.5°C). These conditions are ideal for food storage, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
But can you use a dedicated mini-fridge for your wine or beer? A mini-fridge can be set at whatever temperature you need to store your wines and beers, and it can take the load off your kitchen refrigerator.
I recommend the Walsh Stainless Steel Compact Refrigerator from Amazon.com for your beverage needs. You can adjust the temperature as needed, and if your floors are uneven, the front adjustable legs will help secure it.
Storing Food in a Wine Cooler
Since wine coolers run at slightly warmer temperatures than regular refrigerators, they’re not ideal for foods more vulnerable to spoilage. Some examples are milk and eggs, which are best stored in a standard refrigerator running at around 40°F (4.5°C).
However, that’s not to say that you can’t store any type of food in a wine cooler. Some food items aren’t as delicate as the above examples and can handle slightly higher temperatures.
For instance, wine coolers can safely store things like cheese, salads, or leafy greens.
You can also store many types of fruit in a wine cooler. Fruits generally don’t require strict refrigeration to preserve their quality, but cold conditions help, and wine coolers are perfect for that.
However, avoid storing any food items, including fruits and vegetables, that have a strong or pungent smell. Examples include garlic, cabbage, onions, or durian. That’s because these smells can mix with your wine and add a funny taste to it, which is the last thing you want.
Most common types of ripe fruit can live happily in a wine cooler. If you’ve got pears, apples, bananas, grapes, or peaches with limited space in the refrigerator, the wine cooler is an excellent fridge for them.
Your vegetables like cilantro, parsley, and leafy greens can also be stored and preserved well in a wine cooler for a decent amount of time.
Moreover, if any of your packaged food items say “store in a cool, dark place” on the label, the wine cooler is probably a suitable storage space for it.
Storing Beer in a Wine Cooler
Just like wine has its ideal storage conditions, most other alcoholic beverages do, too. You can store your beer in a wine cooler, but the right temperature setting depends on the type of beer you have.
Keeping these drinks in optimal conditions helps maintain their best flavor.
Beers can be picky in finding the “just right” temperature for storage, depending on their types. It’s the same with wine, with red and white variations requiring different temperature levels for quality preservation.
These are are the ideal temperature levels of different types of wine.
- Red and port wines — 60°F (15.56°C) to 65°F (18.3°C)
- Fruity red wines and full-bodied white wines — 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.56°C)
- Sparkling and dry white wines — 40°F (4.4°C) to 50°F (10°C)
Similarly, wine coolers can store beers well, but the “perfect” temperature setting varies with beer types. However, the overall range for chilling and storing beers is around 35°F (1.67°C) to 60°F (15.56°C).
So, you can stack some types of beers in a regular refrigerator since they run at around 40°F (4.5°C), as mentioned above.
Your stronger beers would be better off in a wine cooler as their preferable storage temperatures range between 55°F (12.78°C) to 60°F (15.56°C). These beers include Dark Ale and Barleywine.
Wine coolers are mainly suitable for strong beers as they naturally run at higher temperatures.
Heavy beers chilled in a refrigerator might be “too cold,” potentially numbing out your taste buds. As a result, it tastes bland. It’s recommended to store strong beers in wine coolers with a temperature setting between 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (12.78°C).
Standard ales might also preserve their taste and flavor better in a wine cooler, thanks to the relatively warmer conditions. For instance, beers like IPAs, Stout, Amber Bock, and Doppelbock are best kept at around 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (12.78°C).
You can also store light beers in wine coolers, but it’s better to keep them in regular refrigerators instead due to their much lower preferred storage temperatures. They should be stored at 40°F (4.5°C) to 50°F (10°C), and refrigerators run closer to that range than wine coolers.
Examples of light beers include low-calorie beers, wheat beers, or lager.
Do You Need a Separate Wine Cooler for Beers and Wines?
Now, you might want to store different types of wines and beers at home. So, do you need separate wine coolers for beers and wines to have customized temperature settings?
You don’t need a separate wine cooler for beers and wines. Dual-zone wine coolers can support two temp settings in separate sections. For instance, you can store your red wine in warmer settings while chilling your light beers at colder temperatures, all in the same wine cooler.
Dual-zone wine coolers also allow you to store different types of wine at the exact temperatures that are optimal for their preservation, storage, and aging. As mentioned above, certain types of wine need to be stored at lower temperatures than others, and a dual-zone wine cooler solves that problem.