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Is it a ‘Bad’ Bottle or is There Soap in Your Wine Glass?

Sienna Serrao

We will sometimes get a call from a wine club member complaining that both of the wines they just received are ‘bad’. After asking the usual diagnosis questions of “What does it smell like – vinegar, rotten eggs, cork, nail polish remover? We can narrow it down to a bad bottle, or perhaps just a varietal that the customer does not enjoy. However there is one reoccurring pesky problem that can be the answer to your off tasting, strange smelling wine, and in fact the wine isn’t even the problem at all, it’s the glass.

Many of us load the dishes in the dishwasher or smother them in soap, but wine glasses require a bit more care than any other glass, especially since the liquid consumed from it is often pricier than beverages consumed out of an ordinary glass like juice, milk, or water. Residual soap and detergents have the ability to ruin the aroma and taste of a wine, as well as impact the formation of bubbles from sparkling wines. The tricky part is that soap residue is invisible to the eye, but makes itself quite apparent at the first sniff and sip. Here are a few methods on how to get the cleanest wine glasses without any leftover soap or detergent, and make sure you're not pouring a perfectly good bottle of wine down the drain!

What are the Different Methods of Cleaning Wine Glasses?

The Rinsing MethodThe Rinsing Method

This method is as easy as it sounds and doesn’t require soap at all. Just rinse the glass multiple times with hot water and make sure all the residual wine is removed—three rinses usually does the trick, but feel free to continue rinsing until you feel it is perfectly clean. After you’re done rinsing, turn the glass upside down on a clean towel, and allow it to air dry. You can polish or hand-dry the glass with a clean cloth to remove any water droplet marks. Of course, with any of these methods, if a glass has harder-to-remove stains like lipstick marks, gently remove those with the soft side of your sponge.

Related: 6 Tips and Tricks to Stop Red Wine from Staining Your Teeth

The Drop Wash Method

The Drop Wash Method

Similar to the rinsing method, this follows the same pattern, just now adding a tiny drop of mild soap or detergent to each glass. Fill the glass with hot water and swirl the tiny amount of soap or detergent around the glass to remove all wine residue and stains. Wait until the water runs clear, with no more bubbles, rinse a few more times, then again turn it over on a clean cloth to dry or hand-dry with a lint free cloth.

The Soda Cleaning MethodThe Soda Cleansing Method

No, this isn’t referring to soda like Coca Cola, but rather washing soda and baking soda. This method is reserved for more delicate crystal glasses that need a more gentle cleanse. Adding washing or baking soda will gently cleanse and absorb any residual wine from the glass. Washing and baking soda can easily be found in the detergent section of grocery stores. Again, be sure to rinse it out to prevent any residual soda from remaining in the glass.

A quick tip to note: Since crystal is more porous than a typical glass and is more likely to absorb odors from its storage companions be sure to keep it away from fragrant household items like coffee grounds and cleaning products.

The Dishwasher MethodThe Dishwasher Method

This is the least recommended cleaning method, but can be useful and time-saving for some glasses - especially if you just hosted a wine party. Short stem, or stem-less glasses are the best candidates for the dishwasher. When using the dishwasher, be sure to use a bit less detergent than you would in a normal load, and do NOT set the cycle on “heat dry.” Heat drying puts the glasses at risk of having detergent baked onto them and can leave your glasses looking cloudy. Once the cycle is complete immediately hand-dry the glasses with a lint free towel, making sure to wipe out any detergent left in the glass.

Are There Other Ways to Wash a Wine Glass?

Of course these aren’t the only ways to wash a wine glass. You can always opt to use a spray or two of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to clean glasses, and you can hand-dry your glasses instead of air-drying them if that is preferred. There are even wine glass cleaning products you can buy at the store designed to specifically tackle lipstick stains, red wine residue, sediments, and oily finger prints. No matter how much these cleaning methods may vary, the result should always be the same, a squeaky-clean glass.

Next time you encounter a wine from one of your monthly Wine Club shipments that is ‘bad’ or has 'turned', pull out another glass, rinse it in hot water or try one of the other cleaning methods, and see what happens...we’re betting that you’ll have a great bottle of wine to enjoy!