The 5 Best Tips for Cleaning Red Wine Stains, According to Sommeliers and Wine Experts

updated May 23, 2022
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Bartender serving red wine in a winery
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Red wine disasters happen. Whether it’s an over-enthusiastic hand gesture that knocks your glass onto the carpet, or a sloppy pour that leaves your tablecloth drenched in Pinot Noir, spills are an unavoidable part of drinking wine. But what if opening, pouring, and drinking wine is your job? We had a hunch that wine industry professionals might have a few tricks up their sleeves for cleaning spills. 

After consulting a few pros about how they deal with red wine stains, we came away with a few cleaning secrets — some familiar favorites, as well as some surprises. Let’s take a look!

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. Club Soda

“My recommendation is a heavy dose of club soda. It may sound old-fashioned, but it really does work — get the cheap and very sparkling kind.” — Grant Reynolds, author of How To Drink Wine and owner of Parcelle Wine

2. Tide To Go Pen

Tide pens should be sold everywhere including wine shops.” Reynolds

This pen, or should I say magic wand, was a gift from Merlin himself and made wine stains disappear before you can say Cabernet Sauvignon! I was recently introduced to a wine stain remover, which works quite well, but I would have to give the Tide pen the edge for its convenience and portability.” — André Hueston Mack, sommelier, winemaker, and wine educator

3. Kosher Salt

After blotting the stain with a paper towel or cloth, “Sprinkle kosher salt all over it (make sure it’s completely covered), and let it sit. The longer, the better in my experience, even overnight! The salt will turn red, soaking up most of the wine. After that, rinse and wash per usual. It’s crucial to blot the stain ASAP for the salt — or any trick to really work.” — Lydia Richards, sommelier and wine expert

4. Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover

“Once, I spilled an entire glass of Cabernet Franc and the Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover saved my rug.”— Keenan Davis, sommelier at Eden 

5. White Wine

“I learned this way back when I was a young barback. I watched my bartender at the time spill a glass of red wine all over his white shirt about 10 minutes before we got busy. With no other option, he took off his shirt in the back and threw it in the sink, grabbed some white wine and filled the sink — basically washing his shirt in wine. It got all the red wine out for sure, but the poor guy had to work the rest of the shift in a wet, wine-soaked shirt.” — Alex Fletcher, beverage director at Hospitality Alliance (Jaxon Beer Garden and Hard Shake Bar)

How do you clean red wine stains? Tell us in the comments below.