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Wine coolers: can an £80 model outperform one costing £1,200?

In our first test of wine coolers, we've pitched cheap options against high-end models. But which ones came out on top?

Wine coolers: can an £80 model outperform one costing £1,200?

£80 will get you a decent case of 12 bottles of wine, but is it enough to buy you a fantastic wine cooler instead?

In our first test of wine coolers we’ve pitted the Currys Essentials CWC8B15 (£80) against the Liebherr WKb 1812 Vinothek (£1,289), to find out how they match up.

£1,200 is up at the very top of end, and a lot to spend on a wine cooler. But we’ve also reviewed 10 other models from top brands, including Baumatic, Candy, Caple, CDA, Haier, Husky and Stoves, ranging in price from £270 to £599.

Our test uncovered three wine coolers good enough to be named Best Buys, plus some wine coolers that you might want to think twice about before storing your precious reds or whites in.

Read on to find out more about the wine coolers we’ve just tested. Or head straight to our wine cooler reviews to see all the results.

Cheap vs expensive wine coolers

Wine storage is serious business, so it’s no surprise that expensive, feature-laden wine coolers tend to hog the limelight among wine enthusiasts eager to protect their reds and whites.

The Liebherr WKb 1812 Vinothek is no exception. It has many (although surprisingly not all) of the features you’d expect to see in a wine cooler costing more than £1,200: an air filter, humidity control system, plus alarms to alert you to errant temperatures inside or to an open door.

The Liebherr WKb 1812 Vinothek wine cooler

But less expensive wine coolers can chill wine quickly and keep it at a stable temperature just as well as more expensive models, and some include nice-to-have features such as wooden shelves and UV-protective glass in the door.

For £80 you probably wouldn’t expect the Currys Essentials CWC8B15 cheap wine cooler to have many features, and you’d be right. It’s got none of the bells and whistles found on most other models.

There’s no air filter or humidity controls, no protective glass panel on the front to help block out potentially damaging UV rays, and no alarms or a child lock.

Picture of the Currys Essentials CWC8B15 wine cooler
Currys Essentials CWC8B15 wine cooler

Although it doesn’t match up to the Liebherr WKb 1812 Vinothek on features, it holds its own in other areas. It’s almost as energy efficient, and both are easy to clean and use, for example.

But when it comes to wine coolers, it’s temperature accuracy and stability that really separate the best from the rest. Read our Currys Essentials CWC8B15 review to find out if it scored well where it counts.

To see whether any of the more reasonably priced models we tested made their way to the top of our ratings, check out our wine cooler Best Buys.

How we test wine coolers

We test nine key areas when assessing wine coolers, including temperature accuracy, energy efficiency, humidity levels, ease of use and quietness. Here are some of the most crucial elements of our test:

  • Temperature accuracy: We set the temperature display on each wine cooler to 12°C (the commonly recommended temperature for storing wines medium to long-term) and then record the temperature inside the bottles to see how close it is to the set target. If it’s a dual-zone model, we set the temperature in the other zone to 7°C. The very best wine coolers keep the wine inside within 1°C of the target temperature, while the temperature inside some of the poorest models can be as much as 5°C away.
  • Temperature stability: While temperature accuracy is important, you also want it to stay there whatever time of the year. Room temperatures can vary widely over the course of a day and at different times of the year. So we raise the temperature in our test chamber to 32°C and see whether the wine remains safely chilled. We then lower the room temperature to a chilly 10°C and recheck the temperature of the wine.
  • Cooling power: While temperature accuracy and stability are vital to proper wine storage, chilling speed is an important consideration for many, too. If you arrive home with a case of wine before a party and want it all chilled to the perfect serving temperature before your guests arrive, you’ll want to know just how powerful your wine cooler is. So we measure how long it takes the cooler to chill a load of room-temperature bottles down to a target temperature of 12°C.
  • Energy efficiency: We measure how much energy each wine cooler uses to keep cool over 24 hours, as well as how much it uses to chill room-temperature bottles. We then calculate what this is likely to add to your energy bill. To see whether a wine cooler is cheap to run for its size, we also rate its energy use against the number of bottles that can be stored inside.

Want to know more about our tough tests? Check out our detailed guide explaining how we test wine coolers.

Which? wine cooler reviews

Follow the links below to read all of our latest wine cooler reviews:

Single temperature zone models

Baumatic BWC155SS/2 (£239, 7 bottles)
Candy CCVB-30 (£289, 19 bottles)
Caple WI3124 (£445, 19 bottles)
CDA FWC304SS (£320, 20 bottles)
Currys Essentials CWC8B15 (£80, 8 bottles)
Haier WS25GA (£269, 25 bottles)
Husky HUS-ZY2-S-SS-31 (£350, 31 bottles)
Liebherr WKb 1812 Vinothek (£1,289, 66 bottles)
Liebherr WKb 4212 Vinothek (£1,499, 200 bottles)
Stoves 300SSWCMK2 (£299, 18 bottles)

Dual temperature zone models

CDA FWC624SS (£599, 38 bottles)
Haier WS53GDA (£415, 53 bottles)

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