Boxed wine is great when you’re a beginner wine drinker or if you’re on a tight budget. At a certain point in life, though, you’ve got to reevaluate your wine drinking lifestyle and graduate from the boxed Jesus Juice and embrace the wide range of aromas and flavors that higher quality bottled wine can offer. Experienced wine drinkers can tell you that there is a world of difference between the cheaper boxed wine and the better quality bottled vino, but you can’t just keep wine in any old refrigerator. If you’re going to take wine drinking a little more seriously then you also need to take wine storage equally as serious. That’s why you should invest in a good wine cooler. Not all wine coolers are the same, however, and some come in different sizes with different features. If you don’t have room for a large freestanding wine cooler, then you can always opt for a more convenient countertop wine cooler.
A countertop wine cooler is a great choice for wine drinkers who have too many wine bottles to store in their kitchen refrigerator, but not enough for a large freestanding wine cooler. These countertop models typically hold between six to 12 large bottles with the largest countertop wine coolers maxing out at around 16 wine bottles. By having a separate countertop wine cooler devoted to storing your wine, you’ll be able to free up much more space in your refrigerator for foods and drinks that are better suited to the temperatures of a standard home kitchen refrigerator.
Wines Don’t Belong in the Refrigerator
Ideally, refrigerators should be set at or around 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 degrees Celsius); going below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) will run the risk of freezing many of the items in your fridge and setting the temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) or higher will cause food to spoil much quicker.
As for wine, the proper temperature to maximize its preservation is approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 degrees Celsius), which completely outside the recommended temperature range for a refrigerator. Serving temperatures for wine, however, can vary between different wine styles. Full-bodied red wines, for example, is best served at 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) while full-bodied white wines have a recommended serving temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius).
|19||66||Armagnac, Brandy, Cognac|
|18||64||Full-bodied red wines, Shiraz|
|15||59||Medium-bodied red wines|
|13||55||Light-bodied red wines|
|12||54||Full-bodied white wines|
|11||52||Medium-bodied white wines|
|10||50||Rose, Light-bodied white wines|
So, which kitchen countertop wine cooler is the best of the best? Well, there are a lot of different types, so, the better question would be: which countertop wine cooler is the best for you? How much wine do you drink? What type of wine do you drink? How do you like to drink your wine? How much space do you have in your kitchen? What is the decor like in your kitchen? These are pretty small, but important questions to ask yourself before jumping in and buying a countertop wine cooler because a lot of the models have similar builds and features. By knowing your wine drinking habits and personal needs, you’ll be able to narrow down the field and choose the best kitchen countertop wine cooler for you.
The Design for Wine
If you were somewhat overwhelmed by the volume of search results when you decided to look up “countertop wine coolers,” you’re not alone. There are a lot of them, but you can quickly cut through the clutter if you know what you’re looking for. With design, we can start breaking that field down into a few categories, such as: capacity, construction material, and form & function.
As stated, countertop wine coolers can hold around six to 16 bottles with many models holding about 12 bottles. Out of the five models we’ll be looking at, four of them have a 12 bottle capacity.
The NewAir AW-121E 12-Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler has four shelves with curved metal wine racks to hold three large wine bottles on each shelf. The bottles are positioned laying down, allowing for compact storage of 12 bottles while keeping a lower height profile. Two other 12-bottle wine coolers–the Igloo FRW133 and the Magic Chef MCWC12B–follow the same design and have the same bottle capacity. As for the Avanti EWC1201, it holds eight bottles laying down while four are stored standing up. The Avanti still holds 12 bottles as the previous three models mentioned, but just in a different arrangement.
The only wine cooler in this post that doesn’t hold 12 wine bottles is the Vinotemp VT-WINEDISP4. If you haven’t guessed how many bottles this unit holds based on its model number, the Vinotemp Wine Dispenser and Preserver holds up to four bottles of wine. Each bottle is left standing up and displayed behind a glass case, making it very easy to see which bottle is which without having to open the door and pull out bottles to see what’s available.
The NewAir AW-121E 12-Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler has a metal body construction with stainless steel doors, making it highly durable and easy to maintain. Inside the NewAir AW-121E is a plastic lining material that help protect against any spills and messes while the wire wine racks are constructed out of chrome-plated metal. These adjustable premium chrome-plated shelves not only look great and compliment the look of the wine cooler, but they also prevent excessive vibration and sediment accumulation. The Magic Chef MCWC12B also has chrome-plated shelves, plastic lining, and metal body construction, but it doesn’t feature a stainless steel door.
The Igloo wine cooler features similar construction materials. Its shelves are made of stainless steel and has interior liner material made of metal. The Igloo countertop wine cooler also has a double-pane glass door, which conserves electricity by retaining substantial amounts of coolness within its interior space. The Vinotemp 4-Bottle Wine Dispenser and Preserver, like the Igloo, has a metal liner and double-pane glass to insulate the interior from losing too much of its chilled air.
The Avanti 12-Bottle Wine Cooler is also made of metal and plastic, vibration-free chrome wire racks, but is the only model out of these five with a concave glass door.
Form & Function
Since three of these five countertop wine coolers have the same shape and size, it’s best to group those together. The NewAir AW-121E, Igloo FRW133, Magic Chef MCWC12B are all closer to a square cube-shaped design with the dimensions roughly being the same across all three. For the NewAir AW-121E, its dimensions are 19-inches (H) by 19.5-inches (W) by 14-inches (D); the Igloo is pretty close with 19.29-inches by 13.58-inches by 18.5-inches; and the Magic Chef is 19-inches by 14.2-inches by 20.1-inches.
Each the three have a black body, soft interior display lighting, and store 12 wine bottles in four rows of three, but only the NewAir AW-121E features the stainless steel trim around its glass panel door that stands out and matches better with kitchens that have stainless steel appliances. The Igloo and Magic Chef are covered in black all around, which would be considered very goth in some circles.
The Vinotemp model is also very goth, or ninja-like, with its all black design. It measures in at 23-inches (H) by 16.5-inches (W) by 17-inches (D), but doesn’t feature any of the metal or chrome-plated racks as the other models. Since the Vinotemp only has room for four standing bottles, the only metal components seen on the front surface are the stainless steel spouts that dispense the wine, located above the glass door. It does, however, have soft glowing display lights like the other models.
The tallest and slimmest countertop wine cooler in this group is the Avanti EWC1201 with its 25.25-inch (H) by 10-inch (W) by 20.25 (D) dimensions. It definitely takes a page out of the NewAir AW-121E design book and incorporates an accented trim around its glass door, but the difference between the two models is that the NewAir AW-121E has a stainless steel trim that’s bolder and wider while the Avanti has a platinum trim that is thinner and less noticeable.
Due to its size and shape, the Avanti has a rather radical layout for storing its 12 bottles. The shelves are adjustable, but do allow for four bottles to be stocked standing vertically behind one another next to a four bottles stacked laying on top of each other with the remaining four stacked laying in two rows of two.
The NewAir, Igloo, Magic Chef, and Avanti countertop wine coolers all share the same function, which is to store and cool 12 bottles of wine at a single temperature on your kitchen counter. The Vinotemp, however, is the wild child of the group and lives by its own rules. This Vinotemp model may be the only one to store significantly less than 12 bottles, but it’s also the only one that can dispense the wine straight from the bottle. The Vinotemp 4-Bottle Wine Dispenser and Preserver keeps its wine bottles at the optimal wine preservation temperature to keep it from spoiling too quickly and features four bottle attachments that connect a line into the bottle that can then be pumped out and dispensed without ever having to open the glass door and pull out a bottle.
TL; DR about Design
Most of these wine coolers have the same basic shape and bottle capacity. If you want a simple model that stores and cools your wine, as well as blend in with your stainless steel appliances, the NewAir AW-121E 12-Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler is your best bet. If you want a countertop wine cooler that takes up half the space of the NewAir AW-121E, you might want to go with the Avanti.
On the other hand, if you don’t need to store that many bottles and only keep a few bottles open during a given time (about a month or so), you might want to consider the Vinotemp, which only preserves and chills four bottles while also dispensing them for easy refills.
The Power of Being Cool
Four of the five models discussed here are thermoelectric coolers, as opposed to being compressor coolers. Both will do the same job as one another, but the compressor models are generally better for types of homes and conditions. Thermoelectric models require a specific range of ambient temperature for it to work properly, which is between 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 degrees Celsius) and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celsius).
Similarly, if you place a thermoelectric appliance somewhere in your home that is too warm or too cold, your wine cooler will experience interior temperature fluctuations; compressor models are unaffected by ambient room temperatures. That’s not to say that thermoelectric wine coolers are inferior to compressor models, but it’s a limitation worth noting.
What’s best about thermoelectric models compared to compressor models is that they’re usually quieter, operate without vibration, and can be more energy efficient. Here’s another snazzy table to highlight their differences.
|NewAir AW-121E||Igloo FRW133||Magic Chef MCWC12B||Avanti EWC1201||Vinotemp VT-WINEDISP4|
|Min. Temp (F)||54||51.8||54||46||45|
|Max. Temp (F)||66||64.4||66||64||65|
As you can see, all of the models shown here are capable of keeping wine bottles at the desired 55 degree Fahrenheit storage preservation temperature and the various wine serving temperatures, but some of the thermoelectric countertop wine cooler models fall outside the range of several serving temperatures, such as light and medium bodied white wines and fino sherry. That shouldn’t come as a worry if the primary function is to store wine for extended periods of time, then you’d want to just keep the temperature at around 55 degrees.
If you’re looking for a low-watt wine cooler, though, the NewAir AW121E is the most efficient using 50 watts. That’s 15 watts less than the Avanti countertop wine cooler.
Interface and Maintenance
To wrap up the comparison between these five kitchen countertop wine coolers, it’s always a good idea to consider how difficult it’ll be to use and maintain the unit.
The NewAir AW-121E has a bright, easy to read digital temperature display and three push-button controls located on the top front surface of the stainless steel trim door. Its black metal body, stainless steel, and glass components are easy to clean and maintain. The removable chrome shelf racks are also easy to clean.
The Magic Chef 12-Bottle Wine Cooler also has a digital display with three push-buttons. The all black metal construction and chrome shelves (like the NewAir model) are also removable and easy to clean.
The Igloo and Avanti wine cooler models could have continued the trend set by the NewAir AW-121E, but these two units feature an additional push-button to switch back and forth between Fahrenheit and Celsius degree readings.
Perhaps the most elaborate interface would be the Vinotemp and its wine dispensing system. On the top of its front facing surface, there is a digital display for the interior temperature with push-button controls to adjust the temperature, plus a button to switch the interior light on and off. Outside of those functions, each wine dispensing spout has two push-button controls. The first dispensing button will dispense wine to your heart’s desire, or at least the bottle is empty. The second dispensing button will dispense wine in one ounce increments with each press.
Before you can dispense the wine straight from the bottle, however, you need to insert the wine and gas tubes into the bottle and fix the silicon plug to the bottle opening. Only then will the system be able to cool the bottles using argon or nitrogen gas and dispense wine.
The Vinotemp VT-WINEDISP4 looks pretty good, but appears to have a lot more working components due to its compressor cooling and dispensing system; it’s definitely not as simple as plugging in the unit, socking and adjusting the temperature. With a lot of parts comes the possibility of more required maintenance or parts that need to be replaced.
This is the Last Paragraph on Countertop Wine Coolers
Between design, cooling power, and convenience, the thermoelectric countertop wine coolers are the easiest to use and store the most bottles. The sole compressor model featured in this group is a very attractive design because of its dependable temperature range and wine dispensing ability, but it holds only a third of the amount of bottles compared to the other 12-bottle wine coolers. And of the four thermoelectric models, the two standouts would be the NewAir AW-121E and the Avanti EEWC1201 because of their similar bottle capacity and more stylish designs.
I Lied. This is the Final Paragraph
In the end, the two kitchen countertop wine coolers are spiting hairs when it comes to choosing one over the other; the Avanti may have a lower cooling temperature, but the NewAir AW-121E 12-Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler might get the edge for being slightly more energy efficient. Whichever you do end up choosing, make sure ask yourself the important questions and figure out which wine cooler is best for you.