Enlightening in a bottle
Instead of just throwing them away, try these creative uses for empty wine bottles
Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 01:52 PM
Probably the most enjoyable thing you can do with a wine bottle is to drink wine out of it. But once that sweet Bacchanalian potion is gone, you're left with only the memory of merriment and an empty glass bottle (or box, but in this case, we're thinking outside the box). And you can make your old bottles into more than just elegant trash. All you need is a little imagination, a little elbow grease and maybe a little glass cutter.
The easiest transformation a wine bottle can take requires almost no transformation at all. A water decanter is one option, but also, bottles of all sizes, shapes and colors make excellent vases and candle holders, and all you have to do is put your candle (flowers, water, what have you) in the mouth of the jug. You can, of course, decorate the bottle in any way you choose, or just leave it au natural, for the classic look, popular in Italian restaurants and artists' hovels the world over.
These bottles are also excellent for storing dry goods — rice, barley, beans of all kinds and so on — and if you simply pop a cork in to keep the bottle airtight, your limas and lentils will stay fresh almost indefinitely. Line them up on your countertop, with or without labels (there are a couple of ways to remove the labels, and you can even mount your label as art). Bear in mind that dark glass bottles work best for this — most stored foods need dark and cool if they're going to make the long haul, so if you're going to use clear glass, move your bottles into a cabinet where light can't get in. Empty wine bottles also make charming liquid soap dispensers. Simply fill your clean, empty bottle with your favorite green soap or detergent — or even better, your own homemade soap — and top the bottle off with a liquor pour spout.
Of course the jug has not-so-practical uses, too. For instance, wine bottles are great implements for really good jugglers, though they range from less-great to disastrous for amateurs, non-jugglers and any juggler who has just emptied the bottles (into) himself. If you've accumulated 10 bottles, you can set up your own bowling lane, but bear in mind that if you're any good at all, the game will likely be over in one frame, after which a rather extensive clean-up begins. Wine bottles also make excellent storage for rolled-up messages and tiny boats (some assembly required).
Other projects require a steady hand, some heavy tools and adult supervision (but you're 21 anyway, if you've obtained your bottles legally). With a rotary tool, you can pop a hole in the side of your bottle, and from there can you make a lamp or an incense burner. With a bottle cutter you can cut off the bottom (wine bottle bottoms make neat tabletop mosaics, too, if you've got the grout and the inclination) to make a hurricane lamp, or cut the bottle in half and make a drinking glass. But when using cut edges, be sure to finish them properly.
Wine bottles can be used to construct any number of things, from coffee tables to buildings (wine-bottle walls provide excellent insulation), or you can just reuse them as bottles. It doesn't take a lot to transform your bottles from vino to green-o.