What’s the difference between a wine cellar and wine refrigerator?

When it comes to naming or describing a wine storage unit, the variations are practically endless.

As a result, the terms wine cellar, wine cabinet, wine refrigerator and wine cooler are often used interchangeably.

Misnamed, and especially misunderstood with regard to their functionalities and differences, we will try to clear things up a bit in this article.

Wine cellar and wine refrigerator: an overview

First of all, let us clarify these different terms.

An appliance used to store wine with the proper preservation features is called a wine cellar. We often hear the term wine refrigerator used to describe this device. However, a wine refrigerator refers to a refrigerated cabinet with shelves, but without the conservation properties of a wine cellar.

A wine cellar can also refer to a temperature-controlled room, most of the time with an air conditioning system adapted for wine preservation.

Finally, a wine refrigerator is simply a small refrigerator which has shelves designed for wine bottles.

This brings us to a more in-depth look at the differences between a wine cellar and a wine refrigerator .

Main differences between a wine cellar and wine refrigerator

It is important to note here that the differences between a wine cabinet and a wine refrigerator may be hard to perceive.

Appliances that are seemingly identical in every way may have significant qualitative, functional and technical differences, and some are not designed for long-term wine storage.

Generally, these differences will be better explained in a specialty shop that sells wine accessories than in household appliance stores and supermarkets, which are less familiar with the more specific aspects of wine preservation.

A wine cellar is specially designed for wine storage and differs from a wine cooler in the following ways:


The thermostat regulating the temperature will be higher quality and therefore more accurate. Temperature variations will be minimized.

Remember: Wine does not like sudden temperature variations.


The compressor in a wine cellar is generally higher quality than in a cooler. The compressor quality not only has an effect on ambient noise, but also helps eliminate vibrations, which is a very important aspect of preservation. In a wine cellar, the compressor is mounted on dampers that prevent vibrations from reaching the bottles.

Remember: Wine does not like vibrations.


The evaporator is a hidden part in the cellar’s side panel that circulates the cold air. This part of the unit is very important. Not only does the evaporator cool down the unit, it also helps prevent the loss of humidity and keep it in the cellar. A good level of humidity is important so that the corks do not dry out and remain properly sealed.

Remember: Wine likes a humid environment.


The insulation of a wine cellar is generally more efficient than a wine cooler due to its thicker and better-insulating walls. Since the main purpose of the wine cellar is for wines to mature in conditions that are as close as possible to a natural wine cellar, insulation minimizes mechanical influences, allowing the wine to mature slowly.

Remember: Wine likes a calm environment and needs time to age well


Light is another factor to consider. Most appliances sold on the market have glass doors, mostly for aesthetic reasons as it is nice to see the bottles.

However, precautions must be taken so that the light does not alter the wines. In general, the glass door on a wine cellar will be tinted and treated against UV rays, which will not necessarily be the case on a wine cooler.

Remember: Wine does not like light.

Choose Vinum Design when shopping for a wine cellar or wine cooler

Now you know a little more about the differences between a wine cellar and a wine cooler. For more information or to purchase one of these units, don't hesitate to contact us or come to the store to discover our selection. Our passionate team will be pleased to help you.