The Dracula Effect: Red wine, purple teeth

You don’t have to drink much red wine to become aware of the Dracula Effect: You enjoy a glass or two of rich red wine. Then turn to your companion, smile … and reveal a row of dark purple teeth that would do justice to the Transylvanian gentleman.

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If you enjoy red wine, you can’t really avoid dealing with stained teeth now and then, particularly if you go to a tasting where several red wines are served. This raises a couple of important questions for wine lovers:

  • Does red wine pose any long-term concerns for our teeth?
  • What can we do to restore that sparkly white?

There are really two issues here: Long-term, permanent red-wine stains; and the Dracula Effect – the noticeable but temporary staining that occurs when you swish and swirl a dark red wine over the course of an evening.

Long-term, gradual staining –which may occurs when we consume coffee, tea, or other staining beverages – is a job for your dentist. This gives wine enthusiasts one more reason to follow the conventional dental wisdom about watching treats and getting regular checkups. We shouldn’t simply ignore permanent wine stains, dentists say, as the acids in wine will eventually etch or erode your tooth enamel, causing permanent damage and opening weak spots where decay can get started. Your dentist can also discuss procedures to “whiten” your teeth, if this is important to you.

Christopher Lee in Dracula, 1972.

Christopher Lee in Dracula, 1972.

That Dracula-look purple tooth syndrome that occurs immediately after tastings, on the other hand, is temporary, and the experts say your teeth (and your tongue and lips, too) are not actually stained but simply covered with a thin layer of wine-dark moisture. Brushing will remove it. But hold on a minute … literally.

Many dental experts advise against brushing immediately after a serious red-wine tasting, because, they say, the high acidity of the wine renders your teeth sensitive to abrasion. Brush too soon, and you risk damaging the enamel. This theory holds that it’s better to endure the purple tooth syndrome for an hour or so – keeping your mouth closed if you’re embarrassed – until your mouth’s natural acid balance returns. Eating a bit of cheese or fruit or simply rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water will help in the meantime.

If we have any dentists, dental technicians or other experts reading along today, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts about wine-stained teeth and what to do about them. Stop by our WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG) forum or at our WineLovers Facebook Page and post your comment.

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Today’s Tasting Report

Famille Perrin 2018 Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($11.99)

Perrin Reserve

This pale-golden blend of the white Southern Rhone grapes Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier offers a fresh, appealing honeydew melon scent with floral notes around the edges. Full and bright in flavor, it’s crisp and dry when cold, softening and adding a slight touch of fresh-fruit sweetness as it warms in the glass. Complex flavors begin with melon and a spritz of juicy lime, opening up to notes of peach and chalky minerality, with a hint of bitter peach pit with lime in a very long finish. 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Birmingham, Ala. (July 29, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: The back label suggests a versatile pairing with “fish, seafood, white meat, Asian food, and all types of cheese.” All those should work; it went well for us with a gently spicy Mexican-accented white-bean soup.

WHEN TO DRINK: Its delicious freshness suggests drinking up while it’s young. The 2019 vintage is already coming into the market. That said, this 2018 is just fine right now, and with its sturdy metal screw cap, there’s no need to worry about it fading in the next year or two.

This is a very good value at’s $12 average U.S. retail. If necessary, I’d gladly buy it up through the middle teens.

Here’s Famille Perrin’s English language fact sheet on the 2018 vintage. Click the blue “2018” button to review details on other recent vintages.

Check prices and find vendors for Famille Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for lots more wines from Famille Perrin, including its flagship wine, Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Join our August Wine Focus conversation in our WineLovers Discussion Group, Grapes Named Blanc, and bring your choice of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Blanc de Blancs, or any other Blancs you an find. Everyone’s welcome! Taste your wine, come to the forum, and we’ll talk about it.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

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