From catastrophe to chemistry
My flat warming was in full flow, around 30 guests, 400 square feet, that pleasant buzz of lively conversations taking place when a friend and his girlfriend arrived totally off their trolley from their office drinks party. Both introduced their presence in a gloriously shouty and socially inappropriate manner. Within moments, the friend had spilt his entire glass of red wine on the cream carpet and flew his body into panicked convulsions to try and make it all stop.
“White wine!” I said calmly, “If you put a bit of white wine on it, it’ll be fine.”
I remained the calm host, not wanting to draw any more attention to my friend’s embarrassment, and he ran off to the kitchen, came back with an open bottle which, with emergency gusto, he dashed onto the carpet.
The one drawback to this plan was that he was pouring red; Rioja, and it’s heady tones and bouquet of cherries was pounding the Syrah‘s stain. There were shrieks of recognition and some hilarity from all around.
“Salt! Salt!” the air was pierced with the shattering cry of a work colleague in a deep Scottish accent, an H-bomb that killed the party dead and turned a minor mishap into a catastrophe. He ran to the kitchen, found no salt, hurled himself out the door and in record timing was back with a huge tub of table salt and poured it all over the floor, all, what, 500g of the stuff.
By now the housewarming had turned into a discussion of what to do with red wine stains. My job, clearly, was to remain the host with the most, not too fussed about it, not wanting to make anyone feel terrible about things (just keep on chatting you b*stards!).
Salt is a winner. The whole pile became a pink slush. Eventually, it picks up the whole lot. The trick is in letting it work: standing, watching, wondering if you should be doing something else. But wait, demonstrate a small act of faith. The small effort after is in scraping up the salt – with a dustpan and brush.
Himalayan salt, kosher salt, sea salt crystals ground slowly from your Peugeot or Le Creuset salt and pepper grinders will not do the trick. It must be table salt – bleach white and small fine crystals – and dumped on in an obscene quantity (the whole tub) to have the rapid absorbency required to draw the wine out of the carpet pile.
The stain, of one glass and one-third of a bottle, was gone. Completely. You wouldn’t known what had ever happened.
The housewarming had turned from great, to weird, to chemistry lesson all in the space of ten minutes. Then resumed. Sufficiently warmed, the flat has avoided a spillage like it for over ten years.