A wine fridge is a specialty refrigerator normally used to keep wine at moderate temperatures and high humidity. While it can theoretically be used to store food, its higher temperatures and humidity levels would lead to quicker spoilage. As such, its use as a refrigerator is not recommended. Some foods such as cheese can be stored in the high levels of humidity but require a lower temperature, and as such compromise a dual-use storage unit.
Wine fridges are typically used to store bottles of wine at 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) and 50 to 70 percent humidity. Some units provide a range of temperatures and can even be used to heat the contents of the unit. The shelving space tends to be tight to maximize the total number of bottles that can be stored in fridge. The texture of the interior is often dimpled to help maintain humidity.
Unlike conventional refrigerators, wine fridges are designed for the optimal storing and aging of wine. Among other things, the standard settings facilitate a tight cork seal and prevent the growth of mold. While a wine fridge can be converted for use as a refrigerator, its range is rather limited in this capacity. More often than not, refrigerators are modified and remodeled for use as wine fridges, not the other way around.
The settings of a wine fridge may be manipulated to provide colder temperatures and less humidity, thus facilitating the storage of food. However, the models rarely compete with the lower range temperatures provided by normal refrigerator. Moreover, many wine fridges have glass doors to allow a view of their contents. The exposure to food inside such a unit would cause early spoilage. The variety of settings on a specialty unit does not preclude non-traditional uses, although it should be noted that their cost is quite high, compared with conventional alternatives.
References and ResourcesFood and Wine on What to Look for in a Wine Fridge
UCSD Jacobs School on Wine Storage