Fix-It Friday: How To Use Red, Red, Wine… As An All Natural Wood Stain

Fix-It FridayFood & DrinksHome Improvement 4 Comments

In the Q&A part of my career I’ve often answered the question how to remove red wine stains, but in honor of National Wear Red Day®, I’m going to show you how to USE red wine to stain wood!

What better DIY way for me to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women than by raising a glass and a paintbrush dipped in vino rosso… an alcoholic beverage revered as offering innumerable heart-healthy benefits! (It’s a gift from the gods, I tell you.)

I was recently reminded of the natural staining properties of wine during a visit to a winery in the Texas Hill Country. On the tour we were taken to a private room in the cellar used for housing select wine barrels and wine tastings. I thought our guide opened up the gates to heaven as I gazed into a room filled with the vineyard’s most prized creations… dozens of French oak casks lined up like legions of angels – it was a spiritual moment. My boyfriend had to stop me from genuflecting and hugging one of the barrels in gratitude.


All of the barrels had a beautiful burgundy stripe around the bilge where the bunghole was positioned (a bunghole is hole bored in a barrel to remove contents – I’m embarrassed to say, a word, I thought was solely a slang term for the, ya’ know…). I asked if there was significance to the barrels being colored that way. The guide explained that the owner had each barrel center stained with wine to complete the naturally occurring discoloration around the bunghole. In short, it simply makes the barrels look really cool.

I love staining with all natural ingredients – wine, beet juice, cranberry juice, tea, coffee, etc. Tints from mother earth are not only powerful colorants, but totally green, VOC free, and can be pretty inexpensive too!


Pictured up top, I’m wine staining a gift from my friend Robin – she found my name carved in wood at a farmer’s market (you can see the finished product just above). Pictured below is a rustic nightstand that I wine-stained and distressed some years back.


You can naturally stain just about any unfinished wood, but color test in a discrete section first to see how it reacts.

Here’s how to stain with red wine (or most any natural liquid stain):

  • Choose an inexpensive dark full-bodied wine.
  • Wear gloves and protect work surfaces.
  • Lightly sand the wood using fine grit sand paper, always in the direction of the grain.
  • Wipe it down with a dry cloth, removing all dust.
  • Using a brush or cloth, apply the wine to all surfaces, again working with the grain.
  • Let dry, then repeat coats until desired darkness. (The projects pictured here took several coats.) You can speed up drying time with a blow dryer.
  • Once totally dry, seal with water based polyurethane, all-natural paste wax, or penetrating oil sealer.

Have fun wine staining… and sipping too! Here’s to a happy and healthy heart, cent’anni!

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.


  • Tara

    Norma, Your “wine as stain” idea gave me an idea. I have a curio cabinet that is about 40 years old. It was a fairly dark wood stained piece. I believe it may be oak. I am not sure it still goes in my room because I have changed the décor, and have been wondering what I could do with it. If I strip the finish off and do some sanding (I know all of the stain will not come off), do you think it will take the red wine “stain” or does the red wine only work on raw wood? Thanks so much.

  • Norma

    Hi Tara! Love that my article gave you an idea…i live to inspire and empower! OK your idea is a good one and you are on the right track…red wine stain, like most any stain needs to be on wood that is NOT already sealed with a finish. You’d have to strip it down to the bare wood to stain it a lighter or different color. Here’s an ideas though…investigate Annie Sloan® Chalk Paint. It covers nearly all furniture finishes, even metal hardware! It’s truly an amazing product. Check out their colors, textures, and finishes AND how-to videos…I’m sure you’ll find something to work with your new decor! Let us know what you decide…and share pix when you’re done! Thanks, my dear!

    • Tara

      Thanks so much, Norma. I will definitely look at the Annie Sloan product for the curio cabinet. I also have a mirror that needs to be refinished, and have been struggling with that. I will look at these products for this piece too. Thanks so much. It may take me a while to do all this, but I will definitely let you know what happens.

  • Tara

    Norma, I thought I’d let you know that I have a found a small store right in MY town that sells the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I will be going there within the next week or so to see what colors they have, and I will ask them for any and all information they can give me about the paint. I will let you know what happens.