Whether it's curling up by the fire with a loved one and a charcuterie plate, curing heartache with a pint of ice cream or having a meal of fava beans with Hannibal, a glass of wine is a perfect complement. However, what happens when you knock over your Chianti on the white tablecloth, splash your cabernet on the leather couch or spill your merlot on the rug?
The first step is to remember to breathe. Panicking over the spilled wine will only leave you frantically scrubbing at the stains, possibly causing them to set. Instead, gently blot at the stain to remove as much wine as you can ASAP. Dabbing will lift the excess liquid without setting the color. Also, avoid the old adage of splashing white wine on top of the red wine. That chardonnay still has pigment, which could further damage your goods.
Instead, pour salt on the stain. The salt will absorb the color of a fresh spill. You'll know it's working when the salt begins to turn pink. This trick works especially well with carpets, couches and other heavy-duty fabrics that might take some time to absorb the wine. OxiClean products are a great resource for dried stains on these fabrics. After pretreating the area, use a combination of the granules and water for anywhere from one to 10 hours, following the product directions.
For difficult leather upholstery, clean up the liquid, and then blot the stain with a mixture of 1 part dishwashing liquid to 5 parts cold water. Without rubbing, dab with a white cloth until the stain has disappeared.
Clothes can be even trickier. If you are at home and able to change out of your wet clothes right away, try using boiling water. After dabbing away as much of the stain as possible, pour the water on the clothing from a height of 6 to 8 inches and watch the red pigment flow. You can also create a white vinegar mixture, 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, to lighten the stain before laundering as usual. If you need to remain within your wine-stained outfit for the time being, try working from the inside out -- reducing the chance of fraying your clothes as you dab. Using club soda instead of water will help, as well, as the salt within the soda will prevent the stain from setting.
Remember: Never put your dirty clothes in the dryer until the mess is completely gone. The heat from the dryer will set the stain.
Even if you don't spill your wine, stains are still possible -- on your teeth, at least. The good news is that in a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers discovered that a glass of red wine helps prevent cavities. The bad news is that your strong teeth might turn purple. To prevent this, add some salad and a glass of water to your charcuterie plate. The protein from the cheese will act as a protective barrier for your teeth; the lettuce will necessitate a lot of chewing, cleaning your teeth through the action; and the water will rinse away remaining stains.
Though unexpected messes are hard to prepare for, there are a couple of steps to reduce the likelihood of a dropped wine glass or a purplish smile. If you or your guests are prone to gestating wildly, try using stemless glasses to minimize the chance of catching the stem with a waving hand. Keep your path clear, and whether it's from the kitchen to the dining room or the picnic basket to the blanket, step carefully. Carry some wine wipes with you; a compact from Borracha costs less than $8. If all else fails, take Eric Burdon and War's advice: "Spill the wine and take that pearl."