Using rinse aids in automated commercial washers leaves tableware and glassware spot free, but can also leave residue that interferes with taste. This is especially true and problematic with wine glasses. And the higher quality the wine glass and wine, the more problematic the rinse aid becomes.
Rinse aids work by placing rinse aid residue on the surface of glasses and smallware being cleaned. The residue in the rinse aids left on surfaces are hydrophobic molecules, which stick to the surface to repel water. Less water on the surface, means less water that needs to be dried, and that leaves less water available to make streaks and water spots. But rinse aid residues interfere with:
- Leg Formation: Natural legs on a wineglass surface form, when tipping and swirling, due to the glycerin content of wine and changes in surface tension. If a wineglass has hydrophobic residue, false legs will form as the residue repels wine and forces it into rivulets that resemble legs.
- Bouquet Reduction: Wineries often use fine crystal stemware because it improves the bouquet of the wine. This is because crystal has a rougher micro surface than cheaper glass and this results in higher surface area and more evaporation from that larger surface area. This higher evaporation results in more bouquet from the wine. When rinse aids are used on fine stemware, the surface roughness is filled in with rinse aid residue. This repulses wine from the surface of the glass, lowers the surface area, diminishes evaporation and, therefore, results in less bouquet from the wine.
- Feel and Taste: Rinse aid residues do dissolve into the wine, which lowers the wine’s surface tension and causes it to wet out on the tongue and taste buds differently. Some responses can be intensified by greater wetting, some responses may be masked by being emulsified and withheld from the receptors. Either way, you are missing the “authentic” experience.
To avoid these problems, do not use hydrophobic rinse aids. To get water spots and streaks off glassware and tableware, use an odor-free, absorbent cloth to wipe down the wares immediately upon finishing a short drying cycle. If that is too time consuming, change the rinse aid to a citric acid rinse, like Citrajet® Low-Foam Liquid Acid Cleaner/Rinse. It reduces the concentration of calcium, magnesium and iron in rinse water (the source of water spots). Citrajet detergent does not contain any hydrophobic ingredients that stick to glass, so none of the above-mentioned problems will occur.