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Though I love a good wine, I'm not a wine snob. Part of the fun of choosing a wine at the store is looking at all the whimsical labels. Sure, a bottle's design doesn't tell you much about what's going on under the cork but if the wine turns out to be not-so-great, at least you have a nice label to look at, right?

I like to keep the labels from some wine bottles that are of particular amusement or sentimental value to me. Here are a couple of tricks I use to get the sticky little buggers off with out wrecking the paper or scraping it off with my fingernail.

First, give the bottle a good soaking. Fill a clean pail or your kitchen sink with enough warm water to immerse the bottle past the label. Of course, an empty bottle will float all over the place so fill it with water before submerging it. Some people recommend adding a few drops of liquid soap but I've never found it to help much one way or the other.

Since every winery uses a different adhesive, it's hard to tell how long you'll have to soak the bottle. In some cases, it may float right off in an hour; in other cases, it may take all night. To test if the label is ready to come off, lay the palm of your hand over the entire label, press down gently, and see if the label begins to slide off. It's tempting to just pry up the corner, but usually all you'll end up with is a ripped corner. If the label doesn't budge, leave it soak a while longer.

If the label seems loose but not quite ready to let go, you might be able to encourage it. Gently blot the bottle dry with a paper towel, the grab a credit card or drivers license. Starting at the shortest side of the label, ever-so-gently scrape your way underneath a fraction at a time. Don't try to rush -- the label might get bunched up or you might slip and rip right through it. Also, think twice before using a razor blade or box cutter for this approach. The combination of glass and wet glue is particularly slippery, and it's easy to lose your grip on a sharp razor.

If the soaking method doesn't work for you, you can also try steaming off the label using the steam setting on your iron, or melting the glue with a hair dryer. I've had very limited success with either of these methods, but depending on the label, they might do in a pinch.

Once you get the label off, let it air dry, then fold it into a layer of paper towels and press it between two heavy books. If you want to preserve your labels for a long time, laminate them or store them in the pages of a photo album.

  • Palonek

    Interesting. I wonder if people trade these lables from old bottles on ebay? if you start a collection today, could it be worth some money 50 years from now? Edward Palonek

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