When a red wine stain is a good thing

Trying to figure out how / what to stain the wine 6-pack holder I recently built as a gift for a family member and I figured why not stain it with what it will be carrying!  Seems too obvious to work, right?

Researching around the good-ol’ blogosphere, I found a DIYer who has dabbled with some natural stains and she tried red wine.  Check out the DIY Vintage Chic article when you get a chance.  Now, don’t get your grapes in a twist, I bought the cheapest (and least palatable) red wine I could find.  FYI: it was not Charles Shaw, that wine is super tasty (as evident there, I am a beer guy).

First step: testing.


I took four pieces and stained each one with a different number of coats (increasing from left to right).  Here’s how it came out:


I can’t really tell the difference between the two and three coat pieces, so I will go for at least two coats and see how it works out.

Step 2: Take a step back.

Before I stained, I wanted to add a little detail on the side to make it stand out and personalize it.  My brother and I come from a long line of wine aficionados (read: winos).  Since childhood, I have heard and seen aunts, uncles, and grandparents drink a lot of wine.  A lot.  My grandfather always referred to wine as “vino” in a clearly American accent.  What is a “clearly American accent,” you ask?  Ever heard a Texan speak Spanish?  That is a clearly American accent.  As a nod to our family history and our pater familias, I put “VINO” on one side in white.  I hope the white will make the stain pop and it is a funny, and appropriate, amount of personalization.


I am not the most arts-fartsy type, so stenciling and free-handing script is difficult for me.  I decided just to block letter the side in blue tape (not the regular stuff, edge-lock because I hate fixing bleeds).  It came out bland and big, so I am a fan.  If I had to do it for someone other than my family, I would try to fancy it up a bit.

Step 3: Dive-in head first!

I started staining by dipping a rag into a reused jar (read: salsa from queso long since devoured) and then wiping the holder down.  This is how I normally stain projects with, you know, “real” stain.  Wine is not scientifically engineered to be absorbed into wood at a quick and even rate, so surprise, it took a while.  The sheer number of coats I was putting on made me rethink the wiping down plan.

Step 4: Revise plan as often and as much as needed.

Revision: place stain (wine) in a larger container (cooler) and then pour stain over piece.  This, it turned out, worked much faster and coated much more wine on the surface than the previous method.  I would strongly advise against this process when working with “real” stains.


After a dozen or so baths in the cooler, here is how it turned out.


Step 5: Sit back and enjoy the product of your handiwork (or come up with a list of things to do next time because you aren’t as pleased as you should be).

It’s not as red as I would have wanted, but I kept going until there was no more wine to pour over the holder.  I must admit, it does sound cool to say it literally has a bottle of wine soaked into the wood.

Pros of using wine as a natural stain:

It is natural (especially when compared to the smell, feel and look of “real” stains), the product looks unique and interesting, relatively easy, smells great, doesn’t stain everything it touches, easy to clean-up and depending on the wine it is pretty cheap.


Takes a large number of coats to get deep and rich colors, it is not scientifically engineered to coat evenly, and it wastes a product someone worked hard to produce.

Overall: after all this, I would definitely use red wine as a stain again.  I would also recommend it to other environmentally conscience people as well.  I think I would get more wine and boil it down to concentrate it a little more next time, or maybe just use grape juice, but it was an enjoyable experience and the outcome is pleasing and a good story, a.k.a. a success!

This entry was published on May 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm. It’s filed under Construction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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