I'm a white wine drinker usually, but last week I had friends over who love red wine, and we all dove in. Sure enough, within the first hour I had red wine spattered on my dress-shirt from a cork that popped in the wrong way. Not so long ago a friend spilled red wine on my new white linen chair in the living room. Ugh. It looked awful, but with a little smart work, all was okay. Due to this, I've gotten pretty good at getting these stains out and have some info here to help you. Enjoy and please add your own remarks.
Red wine will stain fibers that it sinks into for too long and they become permanent if heated in a dryer as they will then "set." The goal then is to "lift" the red wine off of the fibers by diluting it and wicking it away. Scrubbing is therefore a no-no.
It is good to treat a stain right away:
1. Dab stain with paper towels to absorb as much wine as possible
2. Do not rub it!
3. Apply liquid solution to begin working on what remains (see below for choices)
Getting moisture into the area is the quickest way to break it up and keep it from settling. Depending on whether you're dealing with a sofa, rug, shirt or tablecloth, you will be limited in which options you can use, but there are many approaches here and one will certainly do the job.
The oldest and simplest solutions are these first two:
"Salt! Spread liberally over stain, let dry, wash with cold water and detergent/baking soda- poof, it's gone!" - Beatrix
"I've had a few dinner parties turned sloppy where someone spills red wine on the rug — dump a ton of salt on it, go to bed, and deal with it in the morning. the salt soaks up the wine like magic!" - Katethesnake
I have found this to be a great quick solution, but not totally effective on all stains. It can't hurt however, and often is the best solution to reduce the stain overnight so that it can be treated more fully if needed in the morning.
2. Club Soda
"I have always, time and again, had extreme success with the ol' club soda treatment for red wine. Whether on fresh spilled wine or (woops, it dried already) accidents. And oddly enough, regardless of the soda being flat or carbonated." - Goodall
The salt solution has been improved, in my experience, by pouring club soda on top of the stain first. Sometimes the soda alone is enough. Sometimes both soda and salt are enough. Sometimes you need to go further...
HARD WORKING DIY SOLUTIONS
3. Dishwashing Liquid & Hydrogen Peroxide
"I use a mixture of (aproximately) 3 parts HP to 1 part dishsoap. It got an entire glass of red wine out of a pair of green cotton pants and a white cotton shirt - even after they sat for a whole week. The trick is to pour the solution on and let it sit for a little while and continue adding solution (and letting it sit again) until the stain magically disappears. No need to rub or scrub, just wait." - Nikkicole
Mixing HP and liquid dish soap (many swear by Dawn) is perhaps the most popular and trusted DIY solution I found. While the proportions vary from 1 to 1 to 3 to 1 (above), this seems to combine the lifting effect and an agent that effectively breaks up the red color in the wine. Many of the product stain removers build on this.
4. Bicarb Soda & Vinegar
"Absorb as much of the spill as possible with paper towels. Sprinkle a little bicarb soda. Stain will change from red to pale grey. Don't use too much though. Wring out a cloth in white vinegar, wipe, leave to dry and vacuum. It worked! Never ever use soda water or salt!" - AussieBarb
5. Hot Water Through The Fabric
"The best red wine trick I know is to stretch the stained area over a bowl and then pour boiling/near-boiling water right through it. Works like a charm!—seriously, the stain disappears before your eyes. The altar guild ladies at my stepmom's old church used to use this technique every Sunday since Communion always left a bunch of stains.
Obviously, this technique only works on fabrics that are reasonably sturdy and colorfast (like a white cotton or linen tablecloth)" - Bibliophage
This last hot water solution was the most surprising to me, but makes total sense and is really nice for tablecloths, clothing and anything sturdy that you can put over a bowl. Tablecloths are usually the ones that get stained the most, so this would be my first go to next time.
I have only used Wine Away from the following list and found it worked 80% of the time, but it was a good start. For really deep stains you will need to throw something harder at it and the OxiClean solution would be my first choice based on the number of rave reviews it received from readers.
6. OxiClean Powder
"Put a few scoops in a big tub, fill with hot water and soak the tablecloth in it. Then throw the tablecloth in the wash and wash like you normally would. I don't dry my tablecloths so if a stain ever doesn't come out, it doesn't set. This works for wine, coffee, gravy, blueberry pie - you name it." - HHRI
7. Wine Away
"Yep, this stuff is great. I just used it on a month old dribble I saw when I moved my dining table and it took the stain out very well. I have a 50/50 wool/olefin blend for the feel of natural fibers with good stain resistance. Spray, let sit for a couple of minutes (long enough for a few sips of wine, for example), then blot with a clean white rag. Repeat if necessary." - Kimg924
8. Carbona Stain Devils
"Carbona red wine stain remover. I found a red wine stain from a party more than a week later. Gone." - 3culprits
9. Bac Out Stain & Odor Remover
"I've had tremendous luck with Bac-Out by BioKleen - it got straight food coloring out of a shirt the other day in an instant (that'll teach me to lean against the bowl while I mix!). It's taken out stains that nothing else has and the bonus is that you can also use it on dog/cat urine, since it's an enzyme cleaner. Good luck!" - Miss Katie May
10. Tide Sticks
"We also discovered that a Tide stain stick is very good at removing wine stains with a bit of focused gentle scrubbing. We were able to remove about 95% of the visible stain." - GregoryH
11. Ecover Stain Stick
"For clothing: I like the Ecover stain stick." - Aftermath
12. Spot Shot
"Spot Shot! Immediately gone." - Krnstn
HELPFUL LINKS & SOURCES
(Image credits: Maxwell Ryan; OxiClean; Wine Away; Carbona; BioKleen; Tide Sticks; Ecover; Spot Shot)