The Art of Darkness

Atmospheric Wine Bottles

February 26th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Skull Wine LabelI ran across these “decorative wine bottles” at the Z Gallerie site the other day, and was somewhat astonished to see that they were $33 a pop. Egad. For $33 you can buy a very decent bottle of wine and make your own decorations when it’s empty.

Go ahead and empty a bottle of wine. I’ll wait.

Now, soak the bottle in warm water to remove the existing label. You may need to scrape it with a razor blade and/or clean off any remaining gummy stuff with a product like Goo Gone. Make sure you wash and dry thoroughly afterwards.

If you want a drippy-wax look on the neck, do it before adding your new label. For a real wax seal, use wax designed for this purpose–you can get it at most homebrew suppliers–and melt it in a double boiler. Dip the top of the bottle in the wax and rotate it slowly for 10-15 seconds to get a nice smooth covering. Pull straight up, let any excess wax drip off, then set right-side up to cool. You can also fake the effect by carefully dripping hot glue around the neck. There are many different colors of hot glue available, so you don’t have to settle for that weird translucent dun color.

Design your label using your favorite graphics software. The print dimensions should be somewhere in the 3″ wide x 5″ high range, but anything that’ll fit on the bottle should be fine. Give your “product” an evocative name like Skeleton Cellars or Witch River Winery, and find an appropriate graphic. By way of example I created a couple using illustrations by Gustav DorĂ©. (Feel free to pilfer them if you like.)

Ghost Moon
Dark Harvest

Print and affix to bottle. You can purchase blank labels that are specifically meant for wine bottles, but unless you plan to mass-produce these things that’s probably overkill. It’s likely easier and cheaper to print on full-page labels (or just use heavy-duty paper and spray adhesive) and trim to fit. If printing on an ink-jet printer, don’t forget to seal the label to keep the ink from running.

All done! Display them with pride.

Incidentally, personalized wine bottles also make a nice wedding favor if you don’t mind doing a lot of scraping and gluing. Obviously, if you’re presenting full bottles, use real wax on the seal rather than hot glue. (I mean, I think it’s obvious, but I don’t want to be eaten by a ravening pack of personal-injury lawyers.)

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