How a Copper Penny Can Quickly and Cheaply Save a Spoiled Bottle of Wine That Has a Sulphury Stink

A recent Chemistry Life Hacks episode by ACS Reactions demonstrates an easy and inexpensive way to recover a spoiled bottle of wine with a clean copper penny (or a silver spoon). The copper in the penny turns the strong smelling sulfur molecules (thiols) into innocuous odorless copper sulfate thus removing the stink.

The stinky smells can be the result of winemaking thanks to a chemical process called reduction, which compliments oxidation as grape juice sugars are fermented into wine. Some brewing processes restrict its contact with oxygen during fermentation, and at times this reduction process can go into overdrive and starts producing thiols, or stinky sulfur molecules. These thiols carry some of the heaviest odors, and have very specific smells about them. When you drop a penny into your wine, the copper reacts with these thiol compounds, producing odorless copper sulfide crystals. If you’re trying to look more classy, this hack also works with a silver spoon instead of a penny, you know, if you happen to have one of those banging around your kitchen for whatever reason.