Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

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Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:02 pm

Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Today's lesson could be given in a quick 100 words or so, simply quoting a hurried text exchange with a friend who had a problem at a family Christmas party:

Q: How do you get red wine out of a light colored rug?

A: White wine! Pour white wine on it, then pat it up gently with paper towels.

When holiday parties abound, happy crowds sharing fun, fellowship and frivolity are bound to yield the occasional accidental wine spill. Red wine can leave serious stains, so this seasonal tip sheet may come in handy.

White wine works because its neutral color and alcohol help dilute and dissolve the red-wine spill. Pour it on - you don't have to use Le Montrachet: Jug wine or something you've got left over in the fridge will work fine.

Once you've poured on enough white wine to turn the red stain pale pink, pat the spot as dry as you can with a big wad of paper towels or a bath towel. Don't rub, which will may spread the stain around or force the red color deeper into the carpet.

It's not a bad idea to follow up with a commercial carpet cleaner or stain remover to wipe out the last vestiges, but white wine's the key, and get it on fast.

If you're stuck without any white wine, try club soda. Some say the carbonation helps scrub out the red-wine color as it dilutes the stain. But really, what wine enthusiast isn't going to have a little extra white around?

If you've tried this technique or have other red-wine stain antidotes you'd like to share, please tell us about it!

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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Howie Hart » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:58 pm

Depending on what is stained both chlorine bleach and oxyclean will remove red wine stains. Before I got a de-stemmer I had to remove stems from my black grapes by hand. When I was done, my hands would be stained a deep purple, especially under the finger nails, making it look like I had been changing the oil on my truck. A little bit of dilute bleach for 10 seconds and a thorough rinsing and my hands were spotless.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Jenise » Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:54 pm

Better solution: Oxy-clean. White wine, even a dry white wine, will leave enough sugars in the carpet that the place where the wine spill was will eventually darken--an ugly gray color. But a teaspoon or so of a quick and strong solution of 1 tblsp Oxy-clean to 1 cup of warm water spoon as needed onto the affected area (works wet or dry, but it's a good idea to blot up the red wine to remove any excess if you notice the spill when it occurs) will remove stains like magic. Just rub it gently into the fibers with your finger to ensure saturation, then blot it out. The stain (and the sugars) are gone instantly!
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Max Hauser » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:15 pm

Robin Garr wrote: Q: How do you get red wine out of a light colored rug?
A: White wine! Pour white wine on it, then pat it up gently with paper towels.

It's not a bad idea to follow up with a commercial carpet cleaner or stain remover to wipe out the last vestiges...

Hey, Robin, thanks for posting on this poignant topic. Many of us have had our run-ins with it ...

Here's a little-known technical detail that's important, and a bit counterintuitive. Unfortunately, white-wine-on-red-wine has become folk wisdom, without the rest of this:

Final step quoted above is more than a good idea, it's essential, and you can even profitably skip the white wine.
That's from a cleaning expert (and wine enthusiast) who expounded on this recently. Explaining that in the long term, sugars and other nonvolatile organics in white wine caramelize, darkening the stains and also making them harder to remove. (This explained one or two experiences I've had.) The expert remarked that for that reason, on light-colored carpeting, red wine stains are actually more benign than white, because they are self-marking, so you can easily see if you've gotten them all up.

White vinegar diluted somewhat with water (a mixture sharing some chemistry with white wine, BTW) is useful on red wine stains, and doesn't leave residue. For follow-up if anything remains colored, hydrogen peroxide will gently bleach the coloring matter from red wine. Any excess decomposes to water and does not itself require rinsing.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Sue Courtney » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:31 pm

I find that water on its own works but you have to do it straight away. Pour copious tap water from a jug over the red wine spill and layer towels on top of the spill and stomp on them to have the towel draw up the water and the red wine stain like a sponge.
Repeat with more water and more dry towels, as the first lot will become quickly sodden. Always apply pressure but never rub.

This has worked on a friend's white shagpile carpet and also many times on my own carpet, which is not white but a light pinky colour.

Could it be what the carpet is made from that this works? I have a wool carpet, not a synthetic fibre carpet.

Cheers,
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Howie Hart » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:26 pm

Actually, I believe more folks have white tablecloths that would get stained with red wine than white carpets.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:30 pm

I've heard the white wine cures red wine stains story for about a thousand years or so. As the old Gerswin song has it though, "it ain't necessarily so".

With light fabrics such as those that go into making men's shirts or women's blouses, the white wine may hide the stain for a short while but later before or after laundering will discolor the white shirt badly enough that it ha to be either discarded or died a darker color. To demonstrate that, take an old man's handkerchief, pour red wine on it, try cleaning it with white wine and then with regular laundry detergent.

With heavy fabrics such as those used in carpeting, upholstery or white sports jackets or coats, the white wine will make it appear as if the red wine has not stained - for about three hours - and then the stain will rise again, this time a pale brown. Dry cleaning may remove that but there is a good chance that about a month or two after dry cleaning the stain will appear again.

I'm with the French on this one. If red wine should spill on a fabric first thing to do (and often quickest) is to sprinkle the stain very (!!) generously with table salt, to let the salt sit for 1 - 2 minutes and then to very gently rub the salt into the fabric. The stain will mostly vanish at that point and afterwards washing, dry cleaning (or in the case of a carpet, shampooing) will do the rest of the work for you.

There are also several special wet-napkins and sprays now produced especially for this purpose, the brand names of which I have not familiarized myself as the salt trick works for me. I have seen some of those wet-napkins at work in restaurants, always to the amazement of those unfortunate enough to have the wine spilled on them.

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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Jenise » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:37 pm

Max Hauser wrote:Final step quoted above is more than a good idea, it's essential, and you can even profitably skip the white wine.


Try Oxy-Clean--you can skip both the white wine and the special carpet cleaner. Oxy-Clean will also remove whatever wine spilled on your shirt (safely in the case of colored fabrics) on it's way to the floor.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Tom Troiano » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:35 pm

Robin,

FWIW, I think this is one of the biggest wine related urban legends that exists. I'm not sure you want to spread that note too widely.

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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Dale Williams » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:49 pm

Put me in the camp of white wine means grey/brown stain later.

And like Jenise, I vote for OxiClean (note spelling, Oxyclean is a trademark for something else I think) which is basically similar to hydrogen peroxide Max suggested, it's sodium percarbonate, a mix of hydrogen peroxide and soda ash. Oxiclean is also handy for red wine deposits in decanters and stems.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:03 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:FWIW, I think this is one of the biggest wine related urban legends that exists. I'm not sure you want to spread that note too widely.

Well, it only went out to 50,000 readers today, Tom ... but fortunately, I've tried it myself, and while I may not be the world's greatest housekeeper ;) I'm not spreading urban legends that I haven't tried.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby leenelsen » Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:44 pm

Consumers reports did a report recently and while the white wine seems to work over time it will develope into a brown stain. White Vinegaand/or, hydrogin peroxide followed up with plain water or water with a drop or two of dish soap will prevent permanent stains.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Max Hauser » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:14 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Tom Troiano wrote:FWIW, I think this is one of the biggest wine related urban legends that exists. I'm not sure you want to spread that note too widely.

Well, it only went out to 50,000 readers today, Tom ... but fortunately, I've tried it myself, and while I may not be the world's greatest housekeeper ;) I'm not spreading urban legends that I haven't tried.

No indeed, Robin; but i don't think anyone here questions that white wine may seem to work. (I certainly don't.) That's not the urban legend. The urban-legend problem is that ultimately it does not, and may cause other problems.

To take a much worse analogy: Every year like clockwork, in the festival of colorful (but useless) hangover-cure advice, people online and even in print suggest heavy acetaminophen doses after too much alcohol. Not people who ever once googled the word combination acetaminophen+alcohol, or saw the warnings posted frequently by experts who do know about this potentially deadly mix, or who read the USFDA regulatory discussions that produced the statutory warning labels in US products (controversially applied uniformly to all common pain relievers though largely motivated by just one).
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby ChefJCarey » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:39 pm

I've spilled a lot of red wine in my day (actually mostly at night) and I just dump a cup of salt on it and let it sit for a while. Vacuum.

(Is Oxyclean that stuff that is sold by that asshole who screams at people from the television set? I wouldn't buy anything he hawked).
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Jenise » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:37 pm

ChefJCarey wrote:I've spilled a lot of red wine in my day (actually mostly at night) and I just dump a cup of salt on it and let it sit for a while. Vacuum.

(Is Oxyclean that stuff that is sold by that asshole who screams at people from the television set? I wouldn't buy anything he hawked).


It is, may have been his first product. But forget that, it such a good product that it's now off the infomercials and into the mainstream--you can buy it at Costco, and other mainstream cleaning product makers are creating copycat versions. It's good stuff, and you're not punishing Billy Mays by not buying it.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby David Creighton » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:32 pm

i use that stuff called Wine Away i believe. it really works - even on blueberry stains. i know people who have white carpets who refuse to even allow red wine in the house.
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Re: Wine Advisor: Red wine, white carpet: Uh oh!

Postby Max Hauser » Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:12 pm

David Creighton wrote:i use that stuff called Wine Away i believe. it really works - even on blueberry stains.

If that's the stuff I carry with me, and I think it is, it's outstanding. It's available in small portable bottles about the size of those disposable cigarette lighters, with a pump sprayer top, and hinged protective cap. Very handy. I started carrying it to large tastings or trade events where a lot of young red wine is present (consequently some of the highest concentrations of vegetable dye you're likely to find). Immediately the product proved itself by safely removing a couple of drips or splashes from clothing. It's designed for such use, by itself, in the "field."
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