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Why does my wine cooler feel warm on the outside when it's cool on the inside?

Jun 26, 2023

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Why does the outside of my wine cooler feel warm? The inside feels cool.

—Cindy, Fountain Hills, Az.

Dear Cindy,

It’s normal for the sides of a refrigerator or wine cooler to feel warm to the touch. The compressor generates heat as it runs, and that heat is disbursed through coils that are close to the outside surfaces.

It’s a good idea to make sure that the cooler has room around it to make sure any vents (usually on the back) on a freestanding cooler are clear by at least a few inches so it will not overheat. Choose a front-vented wine cooler if you’re installing it within cabinetry, and make sure you don’t block any vents with rugs or other items.

—Dr. Vinny