How to remove the label and glue from wine bottles

Removing the label from a wine bottle can either be quite straight forward or it can be extremely tricky.  I've recently discovered a neat way to completely remove those tricky labels and more importantly the stubborn glue that often gets left behind.  You could just skip to the label removal tip if you don't want to read this diatribe!

So would someone want remove a label from an old wine bottle in the first place?  Personally, I make my own wine at home and like to bottle it then store it (for a little while at least - that's the hard part!).  Some people actually collect wine labels and therefore need to find as non-destructive a way as possible of removing the label as possible.  Personally, this isn't my thing; it sounds too much like stamp collecting - not the  most exciting hobby in the world!  I usually re-use old wine bottles for my home brewing because buying empty bottles would be far to expensive.

More often than not the label can be removed from the bottle simply by soaking it in warm water for a little while.  It will then just slip right off and there will be little or no trace of the glue on the bottle.  It's really handy when you find those bottles but they seem to be becoming rarer these days, instead we have the labels that are more difficult to remove and it's the glue that is the real problem.

Empty wine bottlesI was recently given a very nice wine kit for Christmas, a 30 bottle Merlot from the Connoisseur Collection.  It's a really nice kit that produces a top quality wine not unlike the sort you would buy in the shops at around 10 a bottle.  Seriously good and really easy to make, additionally, it also comes complete with labels so you can produce a really professional looking bottle of wine.  I often invest in some of the shrink wrap plastic things to finish it all off properly.  Now our local off licence has been doing some fairly cheap deals on wine and I have built up a nice collection of empty bottles, more than enough for the purpose of bottling my 30 bottle kit wine.  The problem I have is that all the bottles have these labels that are a real pain to remove.  They're nearly all Italian by the way and of the same type.  I've heard that many of the cheaper Italian wines come with these new ultra sticky labels!

Right, on with my tip for removing the labels.  I found out how to get the label off by checking a few of the  well known question and answer sites but I had to work out for myself how to get rid of the stubborn glue.

1. Take you're clean dry wine bottle and put it in an oven Gas Mark 9 (or 250 degrees centigrade) for 8 to 10 minutes.  Make sure the bottle is dry because any water may gush out as steam when it hits the side of the hot bottle.

2. Carefully remove the bottle with oven gloves and place it on a heat proof surface.  Holding the bottle with a gloved hand you can carefully peel off the label with a knife or a razor blade.  It should slip off fairly easily.  The label collectors were probably only interested thus far and didn't care about the bottle.

3. Pour a few drops of olive oil onto some scrunched up paper towel and gently rub the side of the bottle where the label was.  You may need to apply some more oil because you basically want to mix up the glue residue with the oil so that it leaves an oily sheen on the bottle.

4. Allow the bottle to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.   Once sufficiently cool, clean the bottle with a little washing up liquid and some warm water.  The olive oil and and glue mix should rinse right off leaving a clean and shiny bottle ready to be used again.   Don't forget to sterilize properly first though!

If you find my tip for removing a label from a wine bottle useful, please feel free to email me and let me know as I'd love to hear from anyone who has success with this method.


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