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How to Remove Labels From Bottles of Wine

By
Matthew Krimmel
Table of Contents
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People remove labels from bottles of wine for various reasons. It's important to know how to remove labels from wine bottles properly, so they aren't damaged.

Wine enthusiasts might remove labels from wine bottles to decorate a tasting room. Crafters might collect them in a scrapbook or create a wine-themed collage. Some couples might wish to save a wine label from a special occasion, such as a wedding proposal. A person might save a wine label from a brand they've seen in a sommelier documentary. Sometimes people who have taken sommelier classes collect their best labels. Other people simply admire their design.

However, removing a label from a bottle can be a tricky process. What are the best ways to remove them without damage? We have some tips for removing wine bottle labels to keep them in good condition.

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Reasons to Remove Labels from Wine Bottles

Many people discard or recycle their empty wine bottles, unaware of how useful they can be. Some people sell them on eBay, usually for 0.50¢, but fancier bottles can fetch up to $5.00 online.

Professionals in the wine industry or enthusiasts have reasons for hanging on to them. Private label winemakers remove labels from common wine bottle sizes to use them again.

Methods to Remove Labels from Wine Bottles

There are essentially two methods for removing labels from wine bottles--a wet method and a dry method. Depending on the paper and glue used, some will be faster and more efficient than others.

Examine the label to determine the label's material. Paper labels are permeable to liquids, so a wet method is better for removing them. If the bottle has a sticker or plastic label, then a dry technique is a better option.

Use a utility knife or razor blade to lift the edge of the label and check the type of adhesive used. Water-based glues and pressure-sensitive adhesives are polymers that attach labels to wine bottles.

Following our tips for how to remove labels from wine bottles will preserve your label without damaging it during the process.

Wet Methods

Wet label removing techniques work for both full and empty wine bottles. If the label is attached to the bottle with conventional glue, it's permeable to water, so wet removal methods should work.

Here are three wet methods for removing labels from wine bottles:

1- Hot Water

Using hot water is a simple method that works best for removing labels from empty wine bottles. It's ideal if you're planning to re-use empty bottles to produce more homemade wine. You can either fill the bottle with or soak it in hot water.

Ensure you have hot water, a towel, gloves, and a utility knife or razor blade.

Directions:

  • Heat the water and fill up your wine bottle. If you use a kettle to heat your water, remember to soak the empty bottle in hot water first to avoid cracking the glass. The sudden change of temperature could potentially cause the wine bottle to crack.
  • Leave the hot water in the bottle for about 10 minutes. Put on your pair of gloves and peel the label from the bottle. It should prevent it from getting wet- a clean and easy method for saving your wine label.

Another option is soaking the bottle in hot water and adding a bit of dish detergent.

  • Let it soak for about 10-15 minutes, then use a towel to dry the bottle.
  • Peel the label from the bottle with your utility knife or razor blade, working slowly to avoid tearing it.
  • Allow your label to dry overnight. If it curls up, allow it to dry, then flatten it by placing it in the pages of a heavy book.

2- Ammonia

A solution of ammonia is effective for removing wine bottle labels. Ensure you're in a room with good ventilation when using this method, as the odor can be powerful.

Directions:

  • Measure and add 0.25 cup of ammonia to a gallon of water in a bucket.
  • Dunk the wine bottle into the mixture and cover the bucket.
  • With a utility knife or razor blade, gently lift the edge of the label and slowly peel it from the bottle.
  • If you want to save the bottle, wash it in cold water to clean the residue from the solution.

3- Baking Soda

Baking soda is an item in every household that can remove labels from wine bottles. This method is perfect for labels on full bottles of wine.

Directions:

  • Add 5-10 tablespoons of baking soda to a bucket of warm water.
  • Drop the bottle in and let it soak for about 30 minutes. It should be enough to remove the label and float it to the top of the bucket.
  • If the label is still attached to the bottle, use your knife or razor blade and gently remove it.
  • Let the label dry before using it.

Dry Methods

Using a dry method to remove labels from wine bottles might be better if you don't want to get your hands or label wet.

There are two methods with heat for removing a label from a wine bottle. Using an oven or steaming it can effectively remove it.

Here are three dry methods for removing labels from wine bottles:

1- Oven

An oven is perfect for retrieving the label from your bottle in top condition. It's the best method for saving it for a scrapbook or a collage.

Be sure the wine bottle is empty with the wax bottle cover or foil cap removed. These steps prevent a foul odor when heating it in the oven.

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the wine bottle on a baking dish to prevent it from rolling around or falling inside the oven.
  • Let it sit in the oven for about 10 minutes, which will melt the adhesive on the back of the label.
  • Remove the bottle from the oven (make sure you're wearing oven mitts) and examine the label.
  • Slide the edge of your utility knife or razor blade under the edge of the label, slowly peeling it from one end.
  • Allow the label to dry before using it.

2- Steam

The best way to use steam for removing your labels is with a kettle.

Steam is an effective way to use heat for removing a label while preventing damage to it.

Directions:

  • Fill the kettle with water, then heat it, and when it begins to produce steam, hold the bottle over the spout.
  • The steam will gradually loosen the adhesive backing on the label. Be sure you're wearing an oven mitt to protect your hands from the heat.
  • Occasionally, pull the bottle away from the steam to gauge the looseness of the label.
  • Eventually, the label should peel away from the wine bottle.

3- Wine Label Remover Sheets

Use a wine label remover sheet to remove a label from a bottle of wine.

A label remover sheet is similar to wide sheets of tape. They can safely remove the label and preserve it by laminating it.

Directions:

  • Remove the backing to the adhesive.
  • Place the adhesive side over the label, completely covering it.
  • Press down and smooth it out.
  • Remove any bubbles so the adhesive sticks to it.
  • Peel it back, and it should come off with the remover sheet.

Label Lift and True Fabrication Memento Wine Label Removers are two types of wine label remover sheets available online. The drawback to using these removers is the cost, as they average about $1 per sheet.

Some people find wet and dry homemade methods to be just as effective and cost less. Wine label remover sheets might be best for saving a few labels instead of a large amount.

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Clean and Undamaged Labels

Whether you're a sommelier or wine enthusiast who cherishes a collection of wine labels, or a crafter who designs art from almost anything, follow our techniques to collect clean and undamaged labels.

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