“How can I remove labels from wine bottles?” asks Carolyn Hale.
There is no blanket answer because several different adhesives are used by wineries.
Some people have had success with steaming labels off. Others have used a hair dryer to soften the glue. And still others soak the labels off, finishing the removal with a razor blade.
But even a single method such as soaking has its variables. Some use hot water, but others caution that the label colors can fade if the water is too hot. Others have success with cold water, but most label collectors strike a happy medium and opt for warm.
One or two drops of liquid detergent in the sink may also help the process, but more than that can cause the label to fall apart.
Once the labels have come off the bottles, remove them from the water immediately and blot them dry.
A few companies make “label removers,” which basically are plastic pieces that laminate the labels as you stick them on, and remove the labels from the bottles as you peel them back. We’ve found this “system” works well with some label glues, and not so well with others.
Even the manner and environment in which a bottle has been stored can have an impact on how easily its label is removed.
Our best advice is to experiment with steaming, soaking or laminate/removal systems on bottles that have labels you’re not interested in saving. Or buy a few cheap bottles at the liquor store, use the wine for cooking or watering your plants (sorry – no plant deserves such a fate), and practice removing their labels. Once you hit upon a system that seems reliable, then you can try it out on a coveted label.
Here’s one more idea for you: If you’re simply trying to save a memory of a special bottle, take a picture with a digital camera and store it as you would any other digital shot. Then you can print out a fresh “memory” anytime you want.