You may want to learn how to get labels off wine bottles so you can save the labels in scrapbooks or with your wine notes. Fortunately, there are both commercial products and do-it-yourself options to remove wine labels from glass bottles without damaging them so you can save the memory without compiling a large collection of empty bottles.
How to Remove Labels From Wine Bottles
From a basic soak strategy, to razor blade precision, to special adhesive tape, there are plenty of methods to remove labels from glass bottles intact. And while none of the techniques are 100% foolproof, when you understand how to get labels off wine bottles, you'll manage to preserve many of them.
Reverse Soak With Hot Water
Perhaps the most straightforward and minimal approach is a reverse hot water soak.
- Fill the empty wine bottle with hot water.
- Wait for the heat to loosen the adhesive. This will take longer than soaking your wine bottle in a sink full of hot water, but you won't have to worry about the label puckering or becoming discolored, which can sometimes happen when soaking the outside entire bottle.
- Change out the water as it cools down. You may need to do this multiple times over a number of hours to make this heat method effective.
- Check periodically by peeling the corner of the label. You may need to use a knife or razor blade to get it started.
- Continue to soak and peel until you are able to remove the entire label.
Try a Baking Soda Bath
Most people have baking soda in the house, and it can help to loosen the adhesive on the back of the label so you can remove it from the bottle more easily.
- Mix 1/3 to 2/3 cup (5 to 10 tablespoons) of baking soda with plenty of lukewarm water--enough to fill the sink or a bucket so that the entire wine bottle can be submerged.
- Mix throughly to ensure all the baking soda is dissolved.
- Soak the bottle for at least half an hour.
- After the 30 minutes, wipe down the bottle with a dry towel and carefully peel back the label starting with a corner. You may need to use a knife or razor blade to start the process.
- It's likely the label will be puckered and wrinkled after you get it off. Let it air dry and then proceed to flatten it out under the weight of some heavy books for a few days.
Give It a Soapy Bath
Soap can also help loosen the label adhesive.
- Soak the empty wine bottle in hot water with a bit of mild detergent for about 20 to 30 minutes. The combination of the hot water and the detergent will loosen the adhesive, allowing you to peel it off intact.
- Be patient; not soaking the bottle for long enough or attempting to peel the label off too quickly will only result in tearing.
- Let the label dry and then flatten using a stack of heavy books for a number of days.
Steam off a Label
The best way to steam off a wine label is by using a teakettle.
- Heat water in the kettle and hold the bottle over the spout as it begins to produce steam. The steam will then loosen the adhesive backing on the label.
- Periodically pull the bottle away from the heat and pull up a corner of the label to see if it has loosened enough.
Alternatively, heat a pot of water on the stove to boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer and, while holding the bottle over the steam, slowly rotate it until the label loosens. Watch out for steam burns!
Heat the Wine Bottle in the Oven
Another approach to using heat to loosen the adhesive is the oven method.
- Put your completely clean wine bottle in a 350°F (176°C) for five minutes.
- Wearing heat protection, remove the bottle from the oven and carefully begin to use a razor blade to work the label away from the bottle.
- You may need to return the bottle to the oven to allow the adhesive to dissolve further and try again.
- Do not leave the glass bottle in the oven for longer than five minutes at a time.
Use a Razor Blade
While many methods involve using a razor blade once the adhesive has dissolved, some bottles with more plastic sticker-like labels may only require a razor blade. In this case, work the edge of the blade underneath a corner of the label until you get a grasp on it with your fingers and slowly pull it away from the bottle.
Try a Label Lift Product
You can also use wine label remover sheets to gently remove the wine label from the bottle without destroying the label itself. These label remover sheets are similar to wide sheets of tape. They serve to both safely remove the label and to preserve it by laminating it.
- Place the sheet adhesive side down over the wine label, pressing thoroughly.
- Peel the sheet and label together away from the bottle.
While these may seem more professional than a soapy water batch, they aren't foolproof. In some cases, it can leave parts of the label stuck to the bottle. They are also a little spendy at $1 per sheet, so if you are regularly saving labels this way, it can add up.
Things to Consider When Removing Wine Labels
Whatever method you choose to remove your wine labels, remember that none of them are foolproof. Before you roll up your sleeves, it's best to take a photo of the label so at a minimum, you have a digital visual of the label in case things go wrong. When it comes to removing the label, you can try either dry or moisture methods. With either, take your time to minimize the risk of messing up the label. When deciding which method to use, consider what material the label is made of. If it has more of a plastic/sticker feeling, it may be best to physically remove it by way of a razor blade. If it's paper, it's more permeable to liquid, and a soak method may be the way to go.
Get Labels off Wine Bottles
Whether you are saving labels from every bottle you drink or just those from special occasions, looking back at them in a wine journal or scrapbook is a fun way to go down memory lane. Keeping the labels with additional tasting notes is even better. So decide on your chosen method, and get to work saving those labels.