Wine Making 101: The Best Ways to Remove Labels From Wine Bottles

Removing Wine Labels

Of course, you don’t have to remove the labels…

If every batch of wine you make is Merlot, getting ready for your next bottling appointment is easy – all you need to do is rinse the bottles as you empty them, and sanitize them when you are ready to refill.

But if you’re like most of our customers, you probably like to make different varietals every so often, or change the labels between batches. And that means removing the old labels before bottling time.

Luckily, there are a few tricks.

Method #1: Expert-tested, Science-approved

Popular Mechanics tested 7 of the most popular methods for removing labels from glass bottles. Their verdict? Soaking bottles in a bucket filled with 1/2 tbsp baking soda per cup (250mL) of water, for 30min, yielded the best results with almost no effort:

After 30 minutes, the bucket had two full labels floating on the top—a very good sign. One bottle required a peel of the main label, which came off cleanly—and another bottle was good to go with a simple wipe of the rag. The third bottle, however, proved more difficult. Although the top label floated away during the soak, the main label required fingernail peeling and steel wool (although it was a clean swipe with the steel wool, unlike with the soap-and-water method).

*Other online resources suggest that washing soda (sodium carbonate) may be equally effective, if you have that on-hand.

Method #2: Wine Makers’ Secret Recipe

The first method works well for most labels, but every so often we find a bottle with a label that just. won’t. let. go. You know the ones – thick, gummy adhesives, or a label that dissolves and leaves behind a sticky residue.

One method that Popular Mechanic didn’t test – and that we often use with stubborn adhesives – is the peanut butter method. Once you’ve removed as much of the label as possible, apply a thick layer of peanut butter all over the remaining adhesive or residue. Let it sit overnight, then scrub off with a scouring pad, soap, and hot water. It’s easy, inexpensive, and food-safe.

(Some people recommend using GooGone for the same purpose. If you go this route, be careful to only use it on the outside of bottles and to wash it off thoroughly with soap and water, as GooGone is toxic).

Have your own tried-tested-and-true strategy?

Let us know by leaving a comment!

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