Method #1: Soak and scrape
I know I’m not the only home winemaker who cleans and reuses commercial wine bottles, but the labels on these bottles are getting more stubborn every year. I like to use the “soak and scrape” method. The first step, immersing the bottles in water and Oxiclean, is part of my normal cleaning process. Sometimes the label comes right off, saving me the trouble, but if not it’s easier to scrape off after a good soak. In the second step, I get a good grip on the bottle so that it cant move, then I use a scraper (and ice scraper would work, but I actually use a plastic ruler) to remove the label.
Method #2: Buy wine with easily removed labels:
If you do this often enough, you’ll begin to notice that some labels always come off easily. On the other hand, some wineries act as if the fate of the planet depends on their labels not coming off for the next 10,000 years. I don’t want to single out Columbia Crest by name, but when I buy their wine, I do so knowing that I won’t get a reusable bottle out of the deal. There was a time when I would switch from ruler to ice scraper, from ice scraper to razor blade, and from razor blade to steel wool to get every last label off of every last bottle. These days, some wine bottles end up in the recycle bin again. I also buy Charles Shaw, yep that’s Trader Joe’s “Three Buck Chuck”, more often. Ok, nobody is going to gush about the complexity or refinement of the wine, but it’s not half bad and the labels come right off after a good soak!
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