How Should I Store My Wine Collection?

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School's in session, on your terms: We're asking the Valley's top wine gurus to answer all your wine-related queries, tackling them one at a time each Wednesday, so we can all stress less and pour more. Today's teacher: David Johnson, the wine buyer at Oakville Grocery Co.

Want to keep all the wine you've stocked up for the holidays from going bad? What about the rest of the wine you've collected over the years... or that you picked up at the last big blow-out sale? Read on to find out how to keep wine at its best.

UNCORK THE ISSUE: How should I store my wine collection?

SPILL THE JUICE: "This is the great dilemma in Arizona," says David Johnson, the wine buyer at Oakville Grocery Co. "When they talk about storing wine at room temperature, they're talking about a cellar in Bordeaux, not your apartment in Ahwatukee. Unfortunately, we don't have a good climate for wine: We are a desert."

NOTE THE COMPLEXITIES: Do not store wine in the pantry (or, heaven forbid, the attic). "Keeping wine in the pantry is not a good idea," Johnson says. "It's not optimal storage because it's hot and we can't replace humidity, without which the corks can dry out and shrink in on themselves allowing air to reach the wine,"

"You should always keep the bottles on their sides, so the wine keeps the cork moist," Johnson explains. "But if they get warm, that cork will start sucking up that wine like a cotton ball."

Want to know what to get your favorite wine lover for the holidays? Click through for Johnson's must-have for wine storage and the proper way to use it...

Keep it at the right temperature: Cool. "I think the proper temperature to keep your wines is 65 to 68˚F for reds and 55 to 58˚F for whites, and those are the temps I like to drink them at too," Johnson says. "I think we drink our white wines to cold and our red wines to warm here, personally."

Storing reds and whites together? Aim for a nice median of 60 to 65˚F, suggests Johnson. "You can always cool a white down, but it takes longer for a red to come to room temperature.

Invest in a wine cooler. "They make good wire rack coolers at a really good price," Johnson says. "That way you can slide bottles in at the right angle, keep the wine at the right temperature, preserve the wine at its best, and have wine ready to serve at a moment's notice."

GET THE GOODS: "You can get an inexpensive 24- or 48-bottle wine cooler at Lowe's, Home Depot, or Costco," Johnson says. If you want a more upscale wine cooler ask your wine retailer where they got theirs. Johnson has a pretty swanky one himself.

SWALLOW THIS: A wine cooler is really your best bet to keep your wines their best, says Johnson: "It's a worthwhile investment: The enjoyment you'll get out of that decision is worth all the money you've spent on properly storing it."

Check back next week for the next installment of Wine School and leave your questions for our wine gurus in the comment field below, no hand-raising necessary.

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