Wine refrigerators are really called “wine coolers,” but so are those sweet circa 1981 treats from the likes of Bartles & Jaymes that we all love to hate, and hate to love.


This bit is not about that kind of wine cooler, but about the “it” item in every kitchen renovation; the best Father’s Day gift ever; the only appliance you can get away with giving a spouse for an anniversary without getting the eye-roll.


From Walmart to Williams Sonoma, wine coolers have gotten more affordable and less pretentious.


On, the New Air AW-181E 18-bottle wine cooler with digial Temperature Readout out ranks all others. It’s about $169. Stand-out features: quiet; minimal assembly required.


Second place goes to Whynter’s WC28S SNO 28-Bottle Wine Cooler in Platinum with a Lock, for $192.40. We’d pay twice that for the locking feature. Stand-out feature: upgradeable wood shelves available separately.


Number three is the EdgeStar Deluxe 28-bottle Wine Cooler Refrigerator at $179. Stand-out features: tinted glass keeps out sunlight; no “hump” on bottom shelf from the compressor.


If all of these models are price prohibitive, there are a couple of 2- to 3-star Emerson units at Target for under $99.


If all else fails, invest in a good ice bucket, many of which get equally stellar reviews. Ice sold separately.