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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What's the difference between a wine refrigerator and a wine cooler?
—Richard, Charlotte, N.C.
Assuming that you're not talking about a Bartles & Jaymes, these days, the terms “wine cooler” and “wine refrigerator” are pretty interchangeable: They both refer to a temperature-controlled standalone appliance for storing wine.
Originally, "wine refrigerators" suggested more expensive, powerful cabinets with compression-based cooling technology (similar to your food refrigerator). "Coolers" referred to smaller, more portable units, using thermoelectric technology, the sort of thing you’d see on a kitchen counter top. But wine coolers/refrigerators have become more ubiquitous, and there have been a lot of different advances in how they are designed and used (which means there's lots to consider when deciding which one is right for you). It’s a lot easier to discuss the difference between a wine cooler/refrigerator and a food refrigerator.
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