Not the work from the Beatles, but the fact is I like to give my empty bottles to people that make their own wines. I figure that it is a better way to recycle and on occasion I guess I have empty bottles. This is a good companion piece to my prior article about corks that I have saved over the years. I have all of these wine labels that I have saved over the years from all of these empty wine bottles.

The reason that I am asking for help, is that I have found some wine labels that refuse to leave the bottles. I have tried a myriad of ways to separate the two and I must have a couple of cases of empty bottles that have tried my patience. I have tried the old tried and true method of filling the bottles with water and then placing them in containers and pouring boiling water in the container. In the old days, you could soak them off of the bottles just with room temperature water. Then I have tried the method of pouring boiling water into a funnel and filling just the bottle with the anticipation of melting the adhesive from the inside of the bottle. I have tried baking the bottles in the oven at 250F for ten minutes. Last winter I even thought that perhaps I should try freezing the labels off, by putting the filled bottles in a bucket of water and leaving them in the garage, until they were a solid block of ice. This group of bottles are defying me to get the labels.

That is why I am asking for help, does anyone have another method that they have had good luck with? Some of the bottles are from classic producers, some are from popular price producers and some just have some beautiful designs. Please let me know if you have another trick; I know that there are chemicals that will dissolve the glue, but at the same time they dissolve the label as well, and that is not my goal.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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9 Responses to Help

  1. talkavino says:

    John, you are hitting on my pet peeve, as always try to remove the labels and place them into the journals. The only product which I found working in about 85% of the cases is a product called LabelOff, which is a big piece of scotch-like tape, but this is one and only specific brand which actually can pull most (again, roughly 85% success) of the labels off the bottles. Assuming your goal is to peel the label, and not to clean the bottle, this is the best product from many I tried. Other so called “label removers” have about 20% chance of success. LabelOff is one and only which works in most of the cases. So far the only place I know which carries it is a catalog called IWA – here is the link for the LabelOff:
    I usually buy a 10-pack, in which case it is $5 per 10 label removers, the best value.
    I tried most of the methods you mentioned and found that their success rate is extremely low. Hope this helps!

    • Anatoli, thank you for your quick response. I will check their site again, as I have some LabelOff adhesives, my problem is that the ones that I have are not big enough for the Mouton-Rothschilds and the Opus One labels as they are over size. I am glad to know that I am not the only one that is having this problem. – John

  2. You know, I’ve never even begun to think on how to do this. Some form of very gentle use of a damp cloth?

    • I wish your idea would work, the methods that I have listed tend to work with most of the labels, but some defy removal with out destroying the art work. Thank you for stopping by and your thoughts. – John

  3. Marshall Wehr says:

    I have had so much difficulty in removing labels in the last 10 years, that I abandoned physical labels and turned to photography with my phone, instead. Which is disappointing, as I miss the reaction of finding an old book full of old labels from the ’70’s that I had forgotten about. It seems that the newer labels are even more difficult, as they have developed glues that are impervious to soaking off. I have heard various rationale for this: the producer wants to prevent the label of a white wine coming off in the ice-bucket, or, in the case of expensive Bordeaux, to discourage forgers. I used to resort to adding a couple capfuls of ammonia to the water in a big pot on the stove for resistant labels – helped a little. I was disappointed with the adhesive label removers, as they sometimes tore the labels. Good luck!

    • Marshall thank you for stopping by and your thoughts. I have tried the addition of ammonia, as that was suggested to me by Jim Prager of Prager Winery and Port Works, it did seem to help, but it also tended to bleach out the labels. I shall continue in my research. – John

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