The first thing needed to make a recycled wine bottle cheese board is, of course, an empty wine bottle. Collecting empty wine bottles can be, without a doubt, the most fun part of the project. This bottle is from a recent wine tasting hosted at a friend’s home. The wine was from Ravines Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, NY on Lake Keuka. This is in the Finger Lakes region of New York; a place that evokes fond childhood vacation memories.
Now to the not so fun part! The wine bottles that will be fired need to be absolutely clean. My process is to load up the sink, soaking the bottles in hot water with a little bit of detergent for 20 minutes. I find that if I get back to the bottles before the water cools off, the labels come off easier. I then take a plastic scraper to scrap the label off and put the bottle back into the sink. Next I take a sponge with a scrubby side on it and a little abrasive cleaner to remove any residual glue. The cleaner is whatever I have under the sink. Ajax, Comet, Bon Ami, Bar Keepers Friend should all work. After I get all the glue off the bottles they get a good rinse inside and out in clean water. The last step is a little Windex and a paper towel to clean and dry the outside of the bottle. This last step may be a tad overkill, but it avoids any water spots, and it often shows up where I might have missed some glue. Finally I turn the bottles upside down on a wire rack to dry.
Some other tips:
- Give wine bottles a quick rinse as soon as they are empty. Residual red wine left to dry in a bottle can be difficult to clean.
- Some labels peel off nicely with a heat gun or hair dryer. This may be worth experimenting with, especially if you use the same type of wine. I get bottles from everywhere, so usually it isn’t worth my time to try it.
- Don’t forget to dry the bottom of the bottle before you turn it upside down to dry.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the bottles clean. The pictures below show what happens when you don’t clean the bottles carefully. I am not 100% sure, but I believe I dried the blue bottle upside down. It looks like water collected in the indentation in the bottom of the bottle. The water dried but left a residue behind. On the green bottle, I am pretty sure I missed some glue on the neck of the bottle after taking the collar off.
Next week I’ll write about the firing schedule.