Red Wine Stains

By Tasha Zander

The official start of fall brought cooler temperatures that many of us are enjoying by relaxing out on our porch or curled up by the fireplace with a glass of our favorite wine in hand. And with the holidays around the corner, there are bound to be many bottles of wine being shared over a Thanksgiving feast or Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, many of those dinners will lead to drops of wine staining someone’s beautiful holiday attire or spilled wine across a festive tablecloth.
Why are red wine stains so hard to remove?
Where does the color in wine come from? The culprit is actually the skin of the grape, and the color intensity depends on how long the must, or freshly pressed grapes, stay in contact with the peels. Aging wine can also affect the color; the reactions within the wine can lead to a browning over time. Now for those of you who are science nerds at heart, read on! Phenolic compounds are responsible for the taste, color, and general feeling the wine causes in your mouth (sweet, tawny, etc.) Simple phenols that are abundant in the skin and seeds of red grapes and the pulp of white grapes are transformed into complex molecules during the aging process. Phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins react with catechins and other components to form polymeric pigments that cause the color of the wine. Other ways to introduce phenols into the wine are through oak aging which can impart a vanilla aroma to wines.
How to remove red wine stains:
Although the science behind the color of wine is very fascinating, we should move on to the more important topic on hand: how to remove wine stains! Red wine stains are much easier to remove if they are fresh. If you are out to dinner or traveling, a quick stain remover is to try some club soda. Carefully blot the stain with club soda – do not rub! You do not want to rub the stain further into the fibers of your clothing. If this does not work, use the hottest water that your clothing can withstand to again, blot at the stain. This should help to remove most of the stain.
To tackle the rest of the stain, or a stain that you did not see when it was fresh, an enzyme containing stain remover such as Zout Liquid Spray or Foam is a good option. Spray Zout onto the stain and careful spread it around the whole stain. Let it sit for approximately five minutes and then wash with your favorite detergent such as Purex plus Oxi liquid detergent. For heavy red wine stains, a color safe bleach, such as Purex 2, will help. Pour a little of this laundry booster onto the stain and let sit for five minutes before washing. For silk and wool, do not use enzyme based products – instead try a color safe bleach. And as always, if you are unsure about a laundry product, test it on the inside hem of your shirt or pants before applying it to the stain.
How to remove white wine stains:
For white wine stains, washing with a detergent such as Purex plus Oxi should be enough to remove any staining.
Now you can enjoy your favorite wine this holiday season without worrying about permanents stains! Happy Holidays!
* Please drink responsibly.

** For best results, always follow the washing instructions on garment labels.