When the wine is gone

It's already been a busy wine season. Lots of bottles served, consumed, and enjoyed. But, what do you do when the wine is gone? "Panic" is not the answer I was considering. What I was thinking about is what do you do with the packaging the wine came in? If it is a box, then you're probably reading the wrong blog.

I already have about 50 bottles sitting in my wine room, waiting for their final usage. If the label is unique, I set the bottle aside for further "processing". My routine is to save the cork, for my cork tower, remove the label for addition to my wine table collage, then recycle the bottle for some money that goes back into my wine purchases.

Do any search online, and you can find hundreds of ideas for the crafty people out there. Some of my favorite ideas involve the use of corks. I simply put them in a glass tower, as a decorative piece in my wine room. Cork is a recyclable material. It takes a cork tree about 25 years to regrow it's bark (cork) for a new harvest. It is a biodegradable material. There are only a handful of recycle centers for cork (and it cannot be used again in wine bottles due to bacterial concerns). So why not create something with them. On Pinterest, I have seen a lot of clever ideas: cork boards, shower mats, key chains (I have one on my wine cabinet), birdhouses, and in one case, an entire floor covered with half cork rounds.

When I was younger (before the advent of recycling) wine bottles offered all types of projects. I used to have a glass cutter, and would cut the bottle in half, file down the edges, and make glasses. The tops could then be used for making wind chimes. My parents would drink the cheap Chianti that came in the fiasco (wicker basket). We'd add different colored candles, and let them drip down the bottle, creating the quintessential Italian restaurant decoration. Lately I have been seeing some creative ideas where clear bottles are filled with popcorn kernels, or rice, and used as decorative pieces in kitchen. I've seen them used as lights, chimes, cemented in the wall of a building as colorful decorative windows. I'm not that creative...I take my empties to the recycling center, and use the money for my future wine purchases.

But, before taking the bottles to the recycling center, I remove the labels. There are some really artistic labels out there, and there are wines that I want to remember. It used to be that steaming the label, or soaking it in hot water, was the only way to loosen the glue's grip, and remove the label. This often left a messy label. Now I use a label savers from Wine Enthusiast. These are basically clear plastic with adhesive on one side. You rub the plastic onto the label, then peel off. It works about 9 out of 10 times. My labels are then put on my wine table, in a collage, and covered with a glass top. I can look at them, reflect on the time, taste, and experience of the wine, every time I sit down for a glass of wine. I have also seen some nicely framed wine labels. You could also create a scrapbook with the label, and tasting notes - now that would make a nice coffee table book, wouldn't it?

So, I ask you once again, what do you do when the wine is gone?


  1. I have a table that I have covered in labels as well. How did you lay the glass over it? It it secured down or just loose?

    Also, I get my labels off by putting them in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. The glue becomes tacky again and they come off super easily- no need to spend money on the label removing plastics.

    1. The glass is about seven feet long, and is tempered. It lays on top. However, there is some gap on the edges, where the counter has settled a bit. Those labels are secured with two sided tape to keep them in place. I constantly add new labels, so a removable glass top works for me.