Trick claims to save a stale bottle of wine using only a penny

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

If you've let a bottle of wine sit for just a little too long, don't throw it away just yet. There might be a way to save it -- and it will only cost you a cent.

Rescuing a spoiled bottle of wine is simply a matter of basic chemistry, according to the American Chemical Society. A copper penny (or a silver spoon, if you have one) reacts with the chemicals in the bad wine that cause it to stink, giving the wine a second life.

To get rid of the stench and save your drink, the ACS says just drop a penny into your glass (Don't forget to wash the coin first!), swirl it around with a spoon and then dig it out.

While the video from Dec. 7 brought renewed attention to the trick, wine enthusiasts have known about it -- and debated whether it works -- for much longer.

"It is a neat trick, but it only works with certain pennies, and certain wines," wrote Dr. Vinny, an expert with Wine Spectator in 2013.

The ACS's explanation underscores why that is -- when the trick works, it's because the wine-making process included a limited exposure to oxygen, which creates sulfur molecules called "thiols" that can smell like rotten eggs, burnt rubber and burnt matches. After these chemicals react with the copper, they become odorless. This means you also need an older penny that is made of mostly copper for the trick to work, Dr. Vinny points out.

This video was created for the ACS's "Reactions" YouTube page, which has a chemistry life hack series that also covers how to check your oven's temperature dial and how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener.