In the pantheon of problems that come with loving wine, no hurdle is as immediate and embarrassing as “red wine mouth.” This syndrome-whereby one’s teeth turn a dismal shade of ruby red or deep purple after ingesting your favorite syrah or cabernet-affects any of us who enjoy sipping or gulping red wine, and certainly even non-drinkers have noticed their friends or associates apparently turning into bloody-mouthed vampires before their eyes. It can be a humorous occasion after enough bottles with buddies or an uncomfortable one during soberer office mixers, but it’s always awkward and usually provokes a response, be it snide or snickering, from the assembled crowd.

But all embarrassments should come to an end, and thanks to the divine intervention of Bacchus, there’s now a cure for red wine mouth-and it just happens to come from the Central Coast. Introducing Wine Wipes, the brainchild of San Luis Obispo’s Kimberly Walker, who decided two years ago to invent her product rather than switch to strictly chardonnay. Wine Wipes are essentially circular tissues that have been treated with an orange blossom flavor and are sold in a cosmetics industry-inspired compact, complete with a little mirror. The sleek design is aimed at being discrete and the flavor was suggested by Walker’s sommelier friend to be refreshing but subtle, so as to cleanse the palate yet not overwhelm your next taste of wine.

But the good news doesn’t stop there. They’re cheap, retailing for less than $7 (and if you send Walker a funny story about a friend in need, she may even send you one free). They’re safe, first tested on Walker’s mother and then approved by a laundry list of federal and state health and environmental agencies. They’ll soon be everywhere in town, as June 1 marked the kickoff for sales both online and in wine shops and tasting rooms throughout S.L.O. and S.B. counties. And, just to make our hearts as warm as our wine-drinking faces, they’ll benefit the people of developing countries, as Walker spent the last decade doing humanitarian work in Africa and has pledged a percentage of profits toward safe drinking water projects.

With Wine Wipes, there’s simply no excuse for red wine mouth anymore. So get with the wipers, because you don’t want to be the only one sporting that goofy violet grin at the next wine festival. See for more info.


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