During sunny days, it’s tempting to bring food and drinks outside to enjoy the weather. However, it can be a challenge to keep wine (or any beverage) cold in the heat. Wine coolers supposedly keep chilled beverages cold for at least an hour. In this blog post, we use the COMSOL Multiphysics® software to see how a wine cooler works and whether or not it can keep drinks cool.
How Does a Wine Cooler Work?
Wine coolers usually consist of an open acrylic cylinder with air-filled double walls. The double walls provide thermal insulation, which prevents warm air from reaching the beverages.
First, you place a chilled bottle in the wine cooler. It must be cool, as this then prevents the temperature from rising to a certain extent. The bottle creates a pool of cold air, and because the density of colder air is higher than that of warmer air, the cooler air stays inside the wine cooler. The air in the insulating walls is slightly warmer than the air surrounding the bottle, but cooler than the air surrounding the cooler. The walls prevent the exterior warm air from reaching the inner chamber of the cooler.
I performed a quick test at home by measuring the air temperature inside my wine cooler with the chilled bottle inside. The temperature measurements confirmed that the temperature inside the cooler quickly drops from the ambient temperature to a much lower temperature, indicating that this type of simple wine cooler works — at least initially. According to some wine cooler manufacturers, the bottle should stay cold for at least an hour (even up to three hours) without requiring any additional cooling method, such as ice cubes or a refrigeration system.
To evaluate if a wine cooler can keep a beverage cold for a certain amount of time, we first need to determine how much the beverage’s temperature can increase before we no longer consider it cold. White wine, for example, has a typical recommended serving temperature that varies between 6 and 12°C (48.2°F and 53.6°F). Since the beverage warms up in the glass when served, I would say that 10°C (50°F) is a suitable limit, above which the beverage is no longer cold.