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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What's the best way to clean mold off of wine bottles?
—Scott, Wichita, Kan.
Wine cellars are supposed to be humid so, unfortunately, sometimes mold happens. That said, you might want to check and make sure your target humidity is about 70 percent (which will help keep your corks from drying out). More than that is unnecessary, and possibly quite messy.
To clean your bottles, get a soft brush or a clean soft cloth. I’d start by rubbing while dry, but a little bit of water won’t hurt (just make sure you dry it off completely again to not tempt further mold). Unfortunately, once the mold gets onto the label, there’s nothing you can do to remove mold from paper.
Mold won’t damage the wine inside, so it’s not necessary to be too aggressive with your cleaning. I always recommend avoiding using bleach or chlorine around anything wine-related (as chlorine is a key component of the “corky” TCA equation), but if you’re really frustrated and want to get to something stronger, diluted rubbing alcohol or vinegar and hot water should do the trick.
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