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Red Wine Stains–Trouble No More

Gil Kulers

Gil Kulers

When my wife Eleanore reads these words on Thursday morning, I will surely be in big trouble. A couple weeks ago, during an animated, late-night Wii game session, I knocked over a full glass of Baileyana, Firepeak Vineyard, Pinot Noir from Edna Valley. The rule that I imposed and actively enforce for the TV room is: NO FOOD OR DRINKS ALLOWED! Clearly, this is a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do statute and I’m really sorry.

A wayward splash of red wine at Michelle Steele’s reception threatened to leave a less-than-flattering permanent mark on her wedding memories.

Four untreated stains: upper left got the vodka, upper right got the wine, middle stain got salt and hot water, lower center got Wine Away.

Less than 15 minutes—and a generous dosing of Wine Away—later, she was dancing with her husband and nobody was the wiser about the stain.

To my disbelief, all the stains came completely out after the wash.

While Eleanore is searching for the stain on our white Berber carpet, I should have ample time to explain why she won’t find it. On that fateful night—sweating bullets—I ran to the laundry room for our bottle of Wine Away. I generously sprayed the area, blotted it with a paper towel after 20 minutes, re-applied Wine Away, and blotted once more. Voila! All evidence gone.

Wine Away is a remarkable product that has pulled my fanny out of the fire more than once. It is also my pat answer to the frequently asked question: “How do you get rid of red wine stains?”

Definitely in the category of miracle products, I had to ask Cheryl Corn, vice president for Evergreen Labs, makers of Wine Away, how the heck this stuff works.

“I’m not really sure of the chemistry,” says Corn, who with her daughter, company president Staci Wanichek, developed Wine Away. “It somehow interacts with the stain and draws it out.”

A little over 13 years ago, Corn and Wanichek were trying to develop an environmentally safe, phosphate-free, non-bleach-based, all-purpose spot remover using fruit and vegetable extracts. A friend of theirs pointed out that the yet-to-be-named formula they came up with was particularly effective on red wine.

“We agreed and decided to make it a niche product and target wine stains,” Corn said from her Walla Walla, Wash., office. Turned out to be a great decision. Wine Away comes in an array of packages, from gallon-sized bottles for the seriously klutzy to pocketbook/briefcase-sized versions for the always-prepared Boy Scouts out there. It is sold in 13 countries and Canada.

Corn is repository for stain stories, so I had to tell her mine. She explained that Wine Away works particularly well with non-cotton fabrics, such as our nylon-based rug. Cotton dress shirts, which most wine lovers know is a red wine magnet, are more difficult, but not impossible to evict stains from. Corn suggests a double treatment with a splash of a regular prewash detergent just before washing cotton items. It nearly always does the trick. Never put the stained item in the dryer, she warned, before the stain is out.

Corn’s favorite red wine story is about a bride at a wedding reception in Seattle. “She was walking around with a glass of red wine in her hand,” Corn explained. “Her father came up and gave her a hug and it went down the left side of her dress. Club soda didn’t make a dent. Fortunately, the caterer had Wine Away. By the time she came out of the changing room it was gone. She had her first dance with her father and nobody knew.”

A wayward splash of red wine at Michelle Steele’s reception threatened to leave an unflattering, permanent mark on her wedding memories.

A wayward splash of red wine at Michelle Steele’s reception threatened to leave an unflattering, permanent mark on her wedding memories.

Less than 15 minutes—and a generous dosing of Wine Away—later, she was dancing with her husband and nobody was the wiser about the stain.

Less than 15 minutes—and a generous dosing of Wine Away—later, she was dancing with her husband and nobody was the wiser about the stain.

Obviously, I’m convinced of the super-natural properties of Wine Away, but I called out to my Twitter followers and folks on my Facebook fan page (WineKulers) to ask how others get red wine stains out. Products, such as Carbona Stain Devils #8 and Spot Shot were suggested. A number of home remedies were also put forward, such as white wine, vodka and a salt/hot water combination. I decided to give the home remedies a try.

I splashed Gardian Peak Shiraz from South Africa in four spots on a 100 percent cotton t-shirt to see if I could get the stains out. Here are the results:

80-Proof Absolut Vodka—practically no impact whatsoever.

2008 Epiphany Grenache Blanc, Camp Four Vineyard, Santa Barbara, Calif.—A number of people said white wine would neutralize the red stain. Sorry to say, this yummy wine did not do much better than the vodka.

Hot water poured over kosher salt mounded on the stain—This non-alcohol solution did remarkably well. There was vague pink area that was visible only on close inspection.

Wine Away—Stain gone. Nuff said.

In an interesting post-script, I threw the vodka-wine-salt-Wine Away-soaked t-shirt in the washing machine. Amazingly the shirt came out bright white. Small red dots of red in completely untreated areas of the shirt were equally clean.

I reported this to Corn, who said the residual Wine Away in the shirt was able to work on the other stains. She said her daughter periodically puts a splash of Wine Away in her wash as a detergent booster to brighten all colors (For before and after shots of the t-shirt, go to http://blogs.ajc.com/drink/).

The lesson learned here is that if you’re going to be a hypocrite and break your own rules, you better be able to “make it right,” not get caught…or both.

8 comments Add your comment

shawn W

February 27th, 2010
9:28 am

first… wine away, does it work on stained lips too? hehe

My Two Cents

February 27th, 2010
9:30 am

Great article! I plan on getting some of this product and keeping it on hand and using it on these types of emergencies. I also intend to try it on other types of stains.

saburley

February 27th, 2010
10:10 am

Thanks for the tip. Now I know why the tomato juice did not come out of my cotton robe. Do you prefer Wine Away to OxyClean?

Gil Kulers

February 27th, 2010
1:08 pm

saburley, a number of readers wrote to sing the praises of OxyClean. Sounds like they’re similar compounds. Also peroxide sounds like a winner, too, as a number of readers also liked this home remedy.

And Shawn W, they do make products for stained lips and teeth. I can’t recommend Wine Away for dental care though. ;-)

Doug

February 27th, 2010
4:32 pm

Thank you for writing this wonderful story about this amazing product and not once mentioning where it is available for purchase.

Malia Suzui

February 28th, 2010
12:34 am

So first :) wine away can be bought in stores an online. I like to get mine locally in Walla Walla but amazon is great too because the shipping is inexpensive. I of course prefer wine away though to oxy clean because it works so well on Wine it doesn’t leave any residue or a clue that there had been a spill wheras sometimes oxy clean leaves some pink. The coolest thing though :) is that it doesn’t just work on wine. My dog Bella always gets too excited and has accidents on the carpet in my rented apartment. I spray wine away on it and not only does it completely eliminate the stain but the odor and the cirtrusy smell seems to deter Bella from having accidents there again. I also use it on vomit (animal and human :) , juice, coffee, tea and my favorite make-up that gets on my collar. It’s the coolest product I swear by it!!

Gil Kulers

March 1st, 2010
12:19 pm

Doug, Wine Away is widely available. Most wine stores carry it (Sherlocks Decatur). Also available on-line at various locations, such as wineenthusiast.com and, naturally, http://www.wineaway.com. Sorry for the omission.

Lisa

March 2nd, 2010
8:53 am

I gotta get me some of this stuff. I have a cousin who works in a winery in Missouri and she says they have always stocked it and it does work! Thanks, Gil.