When Wine Goes Rogue

Nothing is perfect and even though most of us share a passion and appreciation for the wonderful grape nectar we know as wine, it can present challenges if we allow it to become unruly and take control. Below are a host of challenges and solutions for dealing with some of the issues wine may present from time to time.

Removing Wine from Carpet

Wine, especially red wine, can be very difficult to clean up and remove from carpets, clothing, or even a decanter.  Here are some suggestions from the “experts” who have experience in addressing such situations.

There are several possible solutions for removing red wine from a carpet.  If the stain is still wet begin by blotting up the wine right away. The longer the wine sits on the carpet the harder it is to get rid of the stain. Be sure to use an up-and-down blotting motion, not a side-to-side rubbing one. Rubbing will pick up some of the wine but force the rest deeper into the carpet fibers, making it much harder to remove the stain.  This can also make the stained area even larger by spreading the liquid to the sides.  Work from the outer edges inward toward the centre. This helps prevent the stain from getting any larger than it already is.

Eventually it will become difficult to blot any more of the wine out. At this point, try getting the stain wet again with a small amount of cold water. This helps dilute the wine remaining in the carpet. Continue blotting until the carpet is dry again.

Next pour a generous portion of salt over the stain while it’s still wet. A good dabbing job will take most of the wine out of the carpet, but usually not all of it.  The salt granules will gradually draw the moisture in the stain out of the carpet over the next few hours.  However, given that salt works by absorbing the stain’s moisture, this is much less effective for dried stains. If your stain is getting dry, pour a little water on it first before adding the salt.

As the salt sits it absorbs the wine and will gradually turn pinkish in colour. You’re ready to proceed when the stain seems almost completely dry. However, the longer you take for the treatment the better the chance for success, so if possible let the salt sit overnight.

Next scoop up the loose salt with a spoon and discard it. Use a vacuum to suck up the fine particles that remain. If a salty residue remains after the first vacuuming, dampen the area with a little cool water and vacuum again.  This should restore the carpet’s natural texture. The stain should be greatly diminished if not gone completely.

A second option is to use a vinegar solution on the carpet.  Prepare your cleaning solution of a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water in a large bowl. Be sure to use white vinegar. Other vinegars may cause additional staining.

Next soak a clean rag in the vinegar mixture and dab it on to the stained part of the carpet. The mixture will seep into the carpet fibers, loosening the stain.  Then use a second dry rag to blot up the liquid as you go.  Alternate between dabbing on the vinegar solution and sopping it up.

Now soak a third rag in cold water and press it into to stain to dilute the wine. Alternatively, pour a little water directly onto the stain. Soak up the water by dabbing with your “drying” towel once again.

For maximum effectiveness, you may need to run through the process several times.

A third option is to use dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.  In this case add a generous squirt of soap to the peroxide and stir to mix them together. The amount you need will depend on the size of the stain, but you shouldn’t need much more than about a half cup for any stain.

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent so this method is best used only on light-coloured carpets.  It may be best to first try putting a small amount of the solution on part of the carpet that can’t be seen. If the carpet lightens or you notice dye transfer when you sop up the peroxide with a paper towel, avoid this method.  According to the experts, low concentrations of peroxide (like 3%) shouldn’t affect most carpets.

Soak the corner of a clean rag in the peroxide solution and dab it gently on the stain, allowing the mixture to seep into the carpet fibers. Repeat as needed until you’ve applied the solution to the entire stain. As always, blot; don’t rub.

When you’re done, let the mixture sit for a few minutes. This allows it to penetrate the deeper fibers and reach deep stains.

Then fill a clean spray bottle with cold water and add a few drops of standard dish soap. Shake the mixture to mix it. Give the entire stain a light spritzing and blot with a dry towel when you are done.  If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can repeat the blotting technique above with a fresh towel.

The stain should be looking better. Next soak a clean rag in room-temperature water (no soap), and blot the carpet to loosen up the cleaning materials. Finish by blotting with a dry towel.

Removing Red Wine from Fabric

Depending on how much wine you have spilt, gently dab or blot the excess liquid with a clean cloth or paper towel. Do not rub the stain.

If possible, apply some salt on the stain while it is still damp. You could also try applying white wine to the stain, which will help neutralise it. Just gently dab the stain to remove the excess liquid.

Baking soda also can be a useful product for helping to remove red wine stains. Consider applying a baking soda paste to the affected area.  Take a cup of water and dilute ½ cup of bicarbonate in it.  Mix it well until you get a uniform white paste and then apply it to the stain and let it work.  Once the mixture on your garment has dried, you will have to remove the traces of baking soda.

Another effective method is to mix baking soda with vinegar. You can create the same preparation but also add a tablespoon of vinegar to enhance it.

If the methods above aren’t available, or haven’t quite removed the wine stain entirely, apply a stain removal product to the stain by following the directions on the label.

The experts say that these hints are intended for treating stains on common fabrics, such as cotton and polyester. If you stain a more delicate fabric, such as silk, it is best to have the item professionally cleaned.  Always refer to care instructions on the clothing label to check the suitability of different cleaning methods, especially when using chemical cleaning solutions.

Cork in the Wine

If you find bits of cork floating in your wine, simply filter it out by pushing a coffee filter half way into your wine glass, and then slowly pour the wine through the filter. Make sure to use an unbleached filter, though, as bleached coffee filters may affect the flavor of your wine.  Other alternatives include using cheesecloth or a sieve, depending on the size of the pieces of cork.

Cleaning a Wine Decanter

It might be tempting to wash a decanter with dish soap or in the dishwasher as you would most other glasses. However, that is not a good idea as dish soap leaves behind residue and faint flavours, while dishwashers are too rough for most decanters.  There are other alternatives for cleaning your decanter, including the ones below.

If you decanter is relatively sturdy, drop in a few pinches of salt and some crushed ice inside and give it a gentle shake.  The ice and salt function as a sort of liquid steel wool pad, scouring the glass as you shake things up. Afterward, rinse your decanter with room-temperature water and let it air dry.

Another option is to use decanting beads, which are little metal balls that you put in the decanter with very hot water and swirl them around.  As the stainless-steel beads swish around the decanter they pick up residue and sediment like a sponge.  Because of their size the beads have the ability to reach the nooks and crannies at the base of the decanter. They are particularly effective on decanters with unusual shapes. 

The beads are reusable.  After use simply rinse them in hot water and let them dry before storing.

If the thought of steel or ice inside your beloved decanter makes you cringe, a similar alternative is to use clean, uncooked rice with equal parts water and white vinegar.  This combination works well as long as there are no significant stains in the decanter.

The most important thing to do in order to maintain your decanter is to rinse your decanter with warm-to-hot (but not boiling) water as soon as possible after each use.

Hopefully you are not presented with a regular occurrence of any of the above challenges but if you are, some of these hints may be of help. 

Sláinte mhaith

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