Skip to main content

Should You Buy A Sub-Zero Wine Cooler? (Reviews / Ratings)

June 15th, 2020 | 4 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

Sub-Zero Wine Cooler and Refrigerator at Yale Appliance in Hanover

Wine is the most difficult single food or beverage to store.

Unlike your poultry, beef, or even dairy and soda, wine is a living grape. Its taste is directly impacted by how it’s stored.

Store it badly with too much light, humidity or higher temperatures, you will have “corked” or spoiled wine.

Sub-Zero-Wine-Cooler-and-Refrigerator (1)Sub-Zero Wine Cooler and Refrigerator at Yale Appliance in Hanover


In this article, you will learn the problems of storing wine and how Sub-Zero and other manufacturers attempted to address these issues.

Hint: Only one company is successful, while most are not.

The Problem With Storing Wine

wine-storageStored Wine in a Sub-Zero Wine Cooler


I was once fortunate enough to travel to the Hungarian wine country. This particular family vineyard produced premium Tokkai wine.

Their storage "system" was local caves.

Interestingly enough, a cave emulates the exact conditions of proper wine storage.

A cave has:

  1. No lighting. Light will damage the tannins of the grape
  2. No vibration. Once again, vibrating a bottle of wine will alter its taste.
  3. Perfect level of humidity. Too much will cause the labels to peel (a problem with fine wine), but too little will dry the cork allowing air into the bottle.
  4. Perfect temperature. This cove was steady through summer and winter at around 55 degrees.

So you want your wine storage system to emulate these conditions - which doesn’t usually happen.

The Problems With Most Wine Coolers

Wine-Cooler-Display-Framingham-1Undercounter Wine Coolers and Beverage Centers at Yale Appliance in Framingham


The early wine craze of wine in the 1990s caused many manufacturers to market wine storage products of all types.

Instead of designing a system geared to solving the problems of storing wine: Temperature, humidity, vibration, and light, most companies added pull out shelves to existing under cabinet refrigerators.

Many still had a light bulb on the top of the cabinet. So your wine was directly below a 75 watt light bulb. That’s kind of funny when you think about it (unless it’s your bottle).

All of them had a compressor vibrating when turned on. The shelves didn’t glide.

Almost all had one temperature control. The “two-zone” wine cooler merely reflected the temperature disparity between the top and bottom.

Most are still like that today. By the way, if you are not storing wine for long periods, its not as big a problem.

Everything You Should Know About Sub-Zero Wine Storage & Coolers

sub-zero-undercounter-wine-coolerSub-Zero 24-Inch Undercounter Wine Cooler


Sub-Zero did not turn an existing undercounter refrigerator into a wine cooler. It was designed independently 20 years ago to answer the problems surrounding wine storage.

Sub-Zero 24-Inch Undercounter Wine Cooler UW-24/S/PH-RH


Hallmarks of a Sub-Zero Wine Cooler

1. Lighting

Sub-Zero was the first to use a Low-e glass door to refract harmful UV light. Others have followed. Their lighting inside the cabinet is an indirect LED.

LED light emits way less heat with far less wattage than incandescent or halogen lighting employed by other companies.

Have questions? Click here to check out our Learning Center.

2. Vibration

The compressor of the Sub-Zero is mounted to rubber grommets, so there is little vibration when the compressor is turned on.

You have rollered shelving, so your wine glides out, unlike steel shelves welded to the sides of an existing refrigerator.

3. Temperature & Humidity Control

Sub-Zero Wine Storage Elements

Sub-Zero employs two evaporators and is a true two-zone unit. You can set either zone from 39-65 degrees to store reds or whites.

You can also precisely set the temperature in 1-degree increments, unlike any other wine cooler.

The outside is sealed so air cannot infiltrate. The middle is also gasketed, so there is no temperature cross over between the two zones

4. Home Security

You can tie in your wine cooler to home security as well. Attach the cable to the unit for that extra protection when there is an issue.

5. Decorator Options

sub-zero-wine-refrigerator-paneledCustom Paneled Sub-Zero Wine Cooler


You have several finish options from panels to stainless steel.

Sub-Zero Wine Cooler Sizes

24-inch-wine-cooler24-Inch Sub-Zero Wine Cooler


You can choose from many sizes. The most popular is the 24-inch models holding 46 bottles in freestanding, built-in, or undercounter. 

Sub-Zero Wine Columns

Sub-Zero Wine Storage Size Columns

You can buy Sub-Zero wine columns in 18, 24, and 30 inches to store more bottles.

Sub-Zero Wine Column With Refrigerator and Freezer

This unit will allow you wine with space for food or other beverages.

Sub-Zero Competitors

Undercounter Refrigerators

True-Undercounter-RefrigeratorsUndercounter Wine Coolers at Yale Appliance in Hanover


You have several less expensive competitors like ours, Uline, Marvel, and a host of other manufacturers for undercounter refrigerators.

Ours is much less expensive at $1,799 with a 5-year warranty compared to $3,500 for a Sub-Zero.

However, it does not offer the same features as Sub-Zero for protecting wine long term.

True Refrigeration

True-Refrigeration-at-Yale-Appliance-in-HanoverTrue Refrigeration and Wine Coolers at Yale Appliance in Hanover


Perhaps True is the only competitor to Sub-Zero for long term storage of wine and wine preservation.

They are 2 zone units as well with vibration control and a low E door.

The units are even more expensive than Sub-Zero. They are somewhat new, so it is a bit unproven. Then again, True supplies half the supermarkets in the US, so they should know a bit about refrigeration

Should You Buy A Sub-Zero Wine Cooler?

Sub-Zero-and-Wolf-kitchen-at-Yale-Appliance-in-HanoverSub-Zero Wine Cooler and Refrigerator at Yale Appliance in Hanover


First, you should know wine is a living grape. How you store wine will have a direct impact on the taste.

You can consider other options if you drink just a few bottles or don’t store for a long time.

However, with better wine and longer storage, Sub-Zero will be your best choice in a field of retooled refrigerators masquerading as wine storage.

Have questions? Click here to check out our Learning Center.

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Undercounter Refrigerator Guide with features, specs and inside tips to all the beverage centers, refrigerators, freezers and ice makers. Over 820,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

Undercounter Refrigerator Buying Guide

Related Articles:

Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that every appliance review has nothing but glowing comments about almost every product, yet you read customer reviews and they are almost universally bad.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll give you the best features, and the drawbacks as well, including reliability based on over 37,000 calls performed by our service team just last year. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you stopping by.

Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.