Our great aunt, Hazel, applied her lipstick unevenly. As a result, her two front teeth were often red. Her cosmetic marksmanship is one of our oldest memories. The experience was, at that time (the mid-1950s), a source of giddy fascination. But our reaction was well short of giggles when we observed our great uncle, Cecil, with red teeth. We were like … really?
In his case, it was not lipstick but red wine that had imparted the purple grin. Uncle Cecil knew how to put it away. Since that day, over the years, we have observed wine-stained teeth countless times, especially when we look in the mirror.
According to an article in Wine Spectator, red wines are the usual suspects in teeth-stainings because they contain this pigment-producing gunk called chromogens. Coffee, tea and berries also contain chromogens. What these chromogens do is they bind to the teeth and cause staining.
The other culprit is acid — which is a component of all wines. The acid in wine can break down your enamel and make teeth more susceptible to decay and — worse — staining. Interestingly, white wine is even worse than red. Whites don’t have the pigment that reds do, but white wines have greater acidity and it is acidity that can break down the enamel and leave your teeth more vulnerable to other, more pigmented food and drink.
What lesson can we draw from all this? Simple. Never switch from white to red the same night. It would be like tag team: the acidic white preps and primes the enamel and the red comes along and coats your fangs.
Sticking with a red all evening is extra easy when the host is serving Flora Springs 2013 Napa Valley Red Wine. Here you have a classic blend of Bordeaux varietals: 52 percent cabernet sauvignon; 20 percent merlot, 17 percent Syrah, 8 percent petit verdot and 3 percent cabernet franc. This is a fruit-driven elixir big on berries and plums. It tastes wonderful and pairs handsomely with beef, pasta or just French bread and cheese. We had it with all of the above, finishing off with a brisk, refreshing interval involving our toothbrush and a dab of Crest.