Built-in or freestanding installation
Reversible door (can swing left or right)
Dual temperature zones suit white and red wine
Large bottle capacity
Child safety lock
Light has to be turned on/off
Can’t really fit 46 bottles
If you’ve shifted from grabbing any old bottle of Two-Buck Chuck to inspecting labels in search of a particular blend you read about in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, you might be ready for a dedicated wine fridge. Properly storing wine for a long period of time—maybe a few bottles from your wedding reception or an expensive vintage you received as a gift—requires a stable environment and temperature. Most experts will agree that storing bottles at room temperature—those you don’t intend to drink for a while, anyways—is a big no-no. So if you’re looking to extend the life of your collection, an option like the Kalamera 46-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler will prove invaluable. Read on for everything we discovered during our testing.
Setup Process: Quick and easy
The Kalamera arrived carefully packed in a large box with styrofoam positioned all around the unit. Since it was delivered on a pallet—and because it weighs more than 100 pounds—it required two people to move and position it.
The installation instructions called for the cooler to be sitting upright for two hours before the fridge was plugged into an electrical outlet. So while the cooling system settled from delivery, we wiped the unit down with a damp cloth, both inside and out. At the same time, we noticed that the appliance wasn’t sitting evenly, so we adjusted the front legs which quickly corrected the problem.
Assembly and installation were simple, as the only item that needed to be attached was the stainless steel handle. We were very happy to find the option to reverse the door swing, but if you do so, we cannot stress the importance of having a second set of hands so the glass door doesn’t break. We found that minor adjustments had to be made to make sure the door was aligned properly, but this was as easy as tightening the provided screws.
After we swapped the door alignment, all we had to do was plug the fridge into an electrical outlet. While the Kalamera can be tucked away as a built-in under kitchen counters, we opted to store the cooler in a freestanding position in our dining room. This way, we were able to store accessories like wine glasses and decanters above the unit. If you do choose to go the built-in route, just note that there is no on/off button on the fridge itself, so to turn if off, you’ll have to deal with pulling the fridge in and of its spot if housed in cabinetry.
Design: Ample but misleading
The Kalamera Wine Cooler is beautifully designed. It has a sleek black and stainless steel finish as well as five natural beechwood shelves. Built-in stoppers anticipate what disasters could unfold should you pull a shelf out too far, and the double-pane door opens a little more 90 degrees so the beechwood shelving doesn’t catch on the rubber seal. The fridge is also equipped with a security lock to keep your collection out of the hands of little ones. While the shelves could be a bit sturdier and they need to be fully slid out of the unit in order to remove a bottle, we really love the overall design.
Built-in stoppers anticipate what disasters could unfold should you pull a shelf out too far.
Our main gripe here is with the unit’s capacity. While the unit is advertised as being able to hold 46 bottles, that’s not very realistic. The most popular wine bottle size is 750 milliliters (or 24.5 ounces). When we tested the fridge, we found we were only able to fit six standard bottles per row—AKA 36 bottles in total—and even at that, it was snug. If the bottles are stored head to toe (cork to base) there is no possible way you can see the back label unless you remove it and the adjacent bottles. So if you want easy access to every wine label, that renders the bottle capacity even lower. The same goes if you plan to store larger bottles like champagne.
After taking a second look at the product listing on Kalamera’s site, the main image does only show 36 bottles. In the fine print, you’ll also see “Sample bottles are 2.75 inches in diameter and 11.8 in height” listed next to an asterix. Typical 750 milliliter bottles measure 3 to 3.2 inches in diameter and 12 inches in height. The listing is a bit deceiving in this way, but if you don’t plan to have more than 30 or so bottles on hand, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Performance: Dual temperature zones tend to red and white wine
As we’ve already touched on above, long-term wine storage calls for stable temperatures. The Kalamera features a compressor which circulates a refrigerant (it operates like a standard kitchen refrigerator). In a nutshell, compressor units can reach colder degrees and tolerate fluctuating temperatures in their environment better than their thermoelectric counterparts. Placing a compressor fridge next to a heat source like another appliance or in a warmer room will still make the unit work harder, but it won’t change the desired temperature inside the cooler.
One of Kalamera’s best features is its dual temperature zones. The upper zone caters to white wines with a temperature range between 40 and 50 degrees, while the lower zone is better for red varieties with a range of 50 to 66 degrees. While powerful in their cooling ability, Kalamera’s fans also keep movement to a minimum so your wine can rest without stirring up any sediment.
It stayed relatively quiet—save for an occasional hum when it turned on to regulate the temperature—and didn’t interrupt our meals.
Experimenting with the temperature of wine will allow you to discover your own personal preference. There’s no 100-percent right way to chill, only suggested ranges. To switch things up, simply use the illuminated LCD display to increase or decrease the temperature. The digital panel also includes a button for an internal blue light. The light will stay on until you turn it off, so you can browse your labels with the door open or shut. While incandescent and fluorescent bulbs give off heat that can raise the temperature of your wine, blue LED lighting gives off very little heat and won’t harm your wine so long as you turn the light off when you’re done looking. Since light greatly impacts the taste and longevity of wine, the Kalamera cooler also has a UV protected door with double pane glass.
After testing the fridge out for a couple of weeks, we were really pleased with the temperature control and ease of use. Since we placed it in our dining room, we were also happy to find that it stayed relatively quiet—save for an occasional hum when it turned on to regulate the temperature—and didn’t interrupt our meals.
At $800, the Kalamera isn’t cheap, but for a mid-size wine cooler, it’s reasonably priced given its competition. There are many choices on the market that include upgraded features like touchpad control systems and French doors, but these extras can bump up the price considerably. The Kalamera is a high-quality fridge that’s not only functional, but pretty sleek, too.
Ivation 18-Bottle Dual Zone Thermoelectric Cooler vs. Kalamera 46-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler
If you’re looking for a smaller or more affordable model, Ivation’s 18-Bottle Dual Zone Thermoelectric Cooler (view on Amazon) is a popular pick. While the Ivation is significantly more compact than the Kalamera, it costs less than $200 and can easily be tucked out of sight—which is a good thing as it makes a good amount of noise. When turned to Cool, the Ivation audibly whirs until it’s reached its programmed temperature. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend placing it in a dining room or anywhere conversation is happening.
An additional difference between the two units is that the Ivation uses thermoelectric cooling as opposed to compression. This aids in keeping the wine still and making sure no sediment is stirred up, but it’s also not as consistent when it comes to temperature. Tinted energy-efficient dual-pane glass protests wine from the sun, but you can see through it to read your wine labels.
While we ultimately preferred the Kalamera’s performance, the Ivation is a good pick if size or budget are big concerns. If you plan to store it in a finished basement or pantry, the noise shouldn’t be a problem either.
The Kalamera Dual Zone Wine Cooler is a great buy. It’s easy to install, maintains a steady temperature, and looks high end all the while. The rub here is that it’s advertised to store 46 bottles, but we found that to be near impossible. If you only need to store 35 or so bottles, though, it’ll work remarkably well.
- Product Name 46-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler
- Product Brand Kalamera
- Price $799.00
- Product Dimensions 23.4 x 33 x 22.4 in.
- Item Model Number KRC-46DZB-TGD
- Bottle Capacity 46
- Number of Shelves 5
- Temperature Range 40 to 66 degrees
- Voltage and Amps 100-120 V / 60Hz / 1.5A
- Warranty 1-year limited for replacement parts
- What's Included Cooling unit, five beechwood shelves, upper and lower hinges to switch door swing preference, stainless steel handle, two keys to lock the unit