Today has been a long day for experimenting with label removal. So far I found that:
* Most labels put on in the US use a plastic-based gum and a very rigid paper, they come off easily in the oven.
* Most japanese sake labels (perhaps because they are put on by a US importer?) are easy to remove with either kettle steam or the oven trick. They are of a different material than US wine labels, and leave a different type of residue on the bottle. One sake label has been especially resilient.
* Most european labels, especially those for vintage ports (but also Croft Special Reserve, Taylor Tawny and LBV94, and likely Fonseca Bin 27*) require steam. Many of the labels are also made of thin, porous paper, very different from the heavier duty US ones, and ripped easily. I removed the Chuchill AA 1995 this way.
* Dow Tawny required the oven to remove the label
* Croft Special Reserve wanted steam, but was so thin it tore repeatedly
1) Oven was heated to 350, kettle set to boil and spout steam.
2) The top-left corner of the label was identified, then each bottle was taken by the neck in the left hand (like a club) and the top-left corner of the labeled was steamed.
3) A knife was then used to determine if the label was held on by a rubbery gum (plastic) or a water-soluble paste (mess).
4a) plastic-based glue bottles were placed in the oven for ten minutes, after which the corner was pulled on a bit, a knife was slid under the full left side of the label to loosen it, and it was removed by hand.
4b) paste labels were steamed (on both sides) and pulled little by little. Generally one part of the paper stayed on the bottle, the other part (containing the information) removed easily.
The delicate labels are likely the best candidates for the system where a giant piece of clear tape is applied to them, then peeled off to remove the label.
(I have almost worked my way through the empties collection, as part of a basement cleanup effort)
EDIT: I've soaked a number of bottles, including that Croft, in a sink of hot water with a few drops of detergent (per instructions found elsewhere on the web). It was effective in removing several of the very stuck (but not disintegrating) labels. The Croft and a "Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano Elisabetta Geppetti 2001" were undaunted by this approach and their labels are so scarred by my attempts that they shall be recycled (gasp) clothed. I'll try this technique with aVP label soon.
Last edited by SushiNorth
on 22:14 Wed 04 Mar 2009, edited 1 time in total.
Port wine should perhaps be added -- A Trollope