Those of us with a serious wine habit find we have a stockpile of empty wine bottles — personally, I end up with 5 – 10 empty bottles per week, depending on the season. During celebration seasons, such as Christmas-New Year’s or around my birthday, I can have many more. Sometimes I have a few less. Either way, I suppose I go through around 500 bottles of wine every year. Hey, don’t look at me like that. Some of those bottles are emptied in the pursuit of writing reviews. Its work . . . leave me alone.
One thing I used to wonder is what to do with all these empty bottles? Sure, you can recycle them. Most cities in America have some form of glass bottle recycling, and if you can do Mother Earth a favor she’s more likely to return the favor in the form of a great wine harvest.
Still, I get the question all the time. What are some things you can do with empty wine bottles? There are other forms of recycling besides municipal.
Empty Wine Bottles As Gifts
Empty wine bottles can be transformed into beautiful gifts in just a few steps. The simplest, bohemian transformation for a wine bottle is to clean the bottle’s inside, fill with a bit of water, and place a single flower inside. Something about the juxtaposition of a commercial bottle of wine and the fragile beauty of a single flower makes a very elegant presentation. When you give someone the gift of a flower (encased in a pretty wine bottle) they will be touched — it will seem like you put more thought into the flower. Of course, you don’t have to use this idea for a gift — you can just as easily keep flowers around your house this way, but too many and you may give away just how much wine you drink.
Another gift idea is a wine bottle candle. I like to remove the label completely (sometimes I leave it on if its a particularly fancy bottle and the gift recipient is a wine freak like me), wash the bottle well, and place a candle in the neck of the bottle until it is snug. Yes, this is a little bit juvenile, and the whole “candle in the wine bottle” thing is very similar to a cheap Italian restaurant tactic, but my more playful friends really enjoy this wacky little gift.
Still another way to gift your wine bottles — a company called WineLight makes an insert for wine bottles that turn an everyday empty wine bottle into an oil lamp. Check them out at WineLight.com. This is a bit fancier version of the old wine bottle / candle holder gift.
Empty Wine Bottles As Home Decoration
Painting a wine bottle can be fun, relaxing, and add an interesting color source to your home — just place the painted bottles in a high window, and as the sun passes through them, the colors cast on your floor and walls will amaze you. I suppose these painted bottles could also double as gifts — you don’t have to hog all the wine bottle fun.
Likewise, corks could be arranged on a tile or a piece of paper in an artistic way and hung either with or without a frame. It will look very folksy and should draw attention at your next get-together.
My mother has taken a couple of my wine bottles (cleaned and stripped of their labels of course) and crafted them into cheap and attractive hummingbird feeders. She used wire to attach a hook so that the bottle hangs upside down, drilled a hole in the top (for easy refilling) and somehow attached hummingbird feeder nozzels into the neck of the bottle. The hummingbirds are just as attracted to these feeders as to the cheap plastic ones she used to own, and the barrel of the feeder is much larger, meaning she doesn’t have to fill it as often.
Other Uses For Empty Wine Bottles
If you make homemade wine, or know anyone who does, you can reuse your commercially purchased wine bottles and pass the savings on to the lucky winemaker. This is a great way for the winemaker to save money during what is already an incredibly cheap winemaking pursuit.
When I was a kid, I used empty wine bottles for target practice. The thickness of the glass makes the bottle a particularly effective target. I would fill the bottle with water, set the bottle at a distance, and take pot shots at the bottles with my pellet gun. What a remarkable sound the bottles made when I scored a direct hit. They hardly ever break on the first shot, and this means the fun lasts a little longer. Of course, if you’re going to do this, make sure you follow proper gun safety procedures.
Also, if you are crafty or have friends who are, you could break the bottles and assemble the pretty broken glass into a kind of mosaic. I have a friend who did this with four or five different shades of bottle glass, then set the shards in tile glue and used the tiles to pave her deck. It is a beautiful and homemade piece of art that is also functional.
There are many ways to reuse a wine bottle besides recycling them at your local recycling center or (God forbid) throwing them away. Consider your stockpile of empty wine bottles an asset, rather than an embarassing reminder.
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