If there’s anything my pandemic lifestyle has taught me, it’s the value of fine wine. While many were nursing a sourdough starter, my family and I took to tasting (erm, chugging) squished fermented grapes as a pastime. So when planning out our DIY smart home renovation, we decided the project wouldn’t be complete without a wine fridge.
This story is part of an ongoing DIY smart home series. Be sure to check out the latest installments to follow the renovation process from start to finish.
Although we skipped on smart appliances, a wine fridge offers special benefits to any wine drinker, from the casual sipper to the total oenophile. It’s not ‘smart’ in the sense that it has Alexa built in, but with features like customizable temperature zones, LED lightning, child locks, vibration control and more, a wine fridge is a smart investment.
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And when used in conjunction with the best Alexa skills like The Wine Enthusiast or Wine Pairing, you could find yourself with a rather intelligent setup for enjoying a bottle of vino. At least that’s what I’m going for.
When I saw an open-box, under-counter Marvel Beverage Center model on clearance at P.C. Richard & Son for $1,000 I didn’t hesitate to bring it home. It met our 15-inch cabinet size requirement for flush installation, and its three shelves offered all the wine storage my family could possibly need.
But there are several excellent wine fridges out there for anyone’s budget and size preferences, including standalone ones that don’t require home renovation. Here’s why you should get one, plus some of the best wine fridge options you can buy now, if you’re convinced.
Benefits of a wine fridge vs. regular refrigerator
Unlike any of the best refrigerators, which should be below 50 degrees for safe food storage, a wine fridge creates the most ideal aging conditions. Wine matures best between 50 degrees and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, with a constant temperature of 55.4 degrees being ideal, according to Decanter’s wine storage guide.
A standard refrigerator is subject to sporadic temperature changes since it’s opened and closed all day, too. A wine fridge should stay shut most of the time, preserving the potential of full flavor development. And since there’s a different compressor in a wine fridge than in a regular fridge, the bottle’s sediment isn’t disturbed as much as it would be in our new 30-inch, french-door Whirlpool unit.
You can also store certain foods in a wine fridge — think items you’d want to see on a charcuterie board, like cheese and fruit. Since we tossed our yellowing, 12-year-old top freezer refrigerator, having our fancy schmancy wine fridge has helped us keep snacks handy while a majority of our kitchen is demolished. After a long day of smashing drywall, some aged cheddar and Cabernet Sauvignon hit the spot.
Find the best wine fridge for you
Like most appliances, the best wine fridges come in all shapes, sizes and prices. I wound up buying a half-off clearance model in-store, but I did plenty of online research ahead of time to find the right options for my DIY smart home, and for my wine-drinking needs. Here are a few of the top choices I found for less than $500:
Frigidaire 38-Bottle Wine Cooler: $399 @ Best Buy
This 34 x 24.5 x 21.5 wine cooler is a perfect free-standing storage fridge. It features dual temperature controls, an LED display with touchscreen controls and a temperature range of 41 degrees to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nutrichef 15-Bottle Mini Wine Fridge: $266 @ Amazon
This countertop wine fridge is affordable and compact, measuring 39.4 x 17.5 x 1.8 inches. It features a child safety auto-lock, a digital soft-touch button control panel and a temperature range of 41 degrees to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
EdgeStar 7-Bottle Built-in Wine Cooler: $439 @ Amazon
Short on space? This modern-looking 34.4 x 18.6 x 5.9-inch wine fridge is tall, but narrow enough to fit in compact spaces. It can hold 7, 2.8-inch wide wine bottles and chill them between 40 degrees to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whirlpool 54-Bottle Wine Cellar: $1099 @ Home Depot
Whirlpool's 34.5 x 23.6 x 21.9-inch wine fridge is the nicest on this list, with an impressive storage capacity of 54 bottles and wood rack finish. The Door Open Alarm and High Temperature Alarm will make sure your wine is aging gracefully, too.
If you're not a wine fan, then check out our hands-on, or should that be lips-on, time with the new Drinkworks Home Bar Classic.
For more product recommendations, check out my guides to the best smart home devices and best cheap smart home devices. Be sure to come back next week for another DIY smart home update. We’re getting to the thick of the renovation, so you won’t want to miss the upcoming installments.
Have smart home (or wine fridge) questions? Email me at email@example.com or leave a comment below with anything you’d like to see me cover in the connected space.