How a Penny Can Make Wine Smell and Taste Better

A Penny in Wine Life Hack

If you drop a penny into a glass of stinky wine, the copper will render the smelly sulfur molecules odorless, instantly making the wine better.
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Before you throw out that bottle of funky-smelling wine, try a simple chemistry life hack to fix it. It's super easy and all you need is a penny!

How to Fix Smelly Wine With a Penny

  1. First, find a penny. Clean it up by rinsing it off and polishing off any grime.
  2. Pour yourself a glass of wine.
  3. Drop in the clean penny and swirl it around in the glass.
  4. Remove the penny. You don't want to accidentally swallow it!
  5. Now, inhale the improved aroma and drink the wine.
  6. Drink more wine. You're so clever, you've earned it.

How the Penny Trick Works

Wine can smell stinky because it contains sulfur compounds called thiols. A burnt rubber odor comes from a thiol called ethyl mercaptan. Eau de rotten eggs comes from hydrogen sulfide. If your wine smells like someone put out a match in it, that's from a thiol named methyl mercaptan. The thiols are in the wine as a natural consequence of grape fermentation. During fermentation, the sugars from the fruit juice undergo reduction, which involves the loss of oxygen. In stale, old wine or some cheap wine, the process kicks into overdrive, resulting in so much thiol the wine becomes unpalatable.

Here's where the penny comes to the rescue. While pennies are mostly zinc, the outer shell contains copper. The copper reacts with thiols to produce copper sulfide, which is odorless. Since the senses of smell and taste are connected, removing the stench dramatically improves both the aroma and perceived flavor of the wine.

Save Your Wine With Silver

Looking for a classier way to fix your wine? You can get the same deodorizing effect by stirring your wine with a silver spoon. If you don't have a silver spoon, try a sterling silver ring. Just remember to remove it before imbibing.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How a Penny Can Make Wine Smell and Taste Better." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2023, April 5). How a Penny Can Make Wine Smell and Taste Better. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How a Penny Can Make Wine Smell and Taste Better." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).