Affordable Labels

Wine bottles are just a pain in the ass. What I am on about is the volume, 750ml, is a bit too much to be healthy for a single person and yet not enough for two people in a sitting. To get this lovely inconvenience of a container it takes cork and shrink tube and label as well. All this fuss for a product that oxidizes when stored under dead air really does not make sense. They do not fit well in the refrigerator either. Beer on the other hand is a simple serving per container. You can fit tons on a fridge shelf. No one looks at you like you are a hobo if you drink directly from the bottle either. So guess what – I am starting to put my wine in beer bottles either swing top or capped.  This means more labels and the nice printable peel and stick variety I have used in the past for wine are not cheap. After watching a movie where a kids slaps up a poster with a big brush of paste I decided I would start experimenting. I have found a much more affordable way to have nice labels. Basically you laser print the labels, brush them with glue and apply. Here is what you will need…

  • laser printed labels (plain or gloss paper will work – photo will be too stiff) 3″x3″ for 16oz swing top bottles
  • a paper cutter or ruler and razor knife 
  • a chip brush or other small paintbrush
  • wood glue (important)
  • water
  1. Cut your labels 
  2. In a small bowl mix a 1:1 ratio of wood glue to water. It should be very runny
  3. On a nonporous surface (I use a paper plate) place a label face down.
  4. Wet your brush shaking out the excess glue (so it is not dripping)
  5. Coat the back of the label quickly and evenly using as few strokes as possible (try to avoid soaking the paper totally)
  6. Apply the label to the bottle and with a soft paper towel stick it down from the center to the edges and clean off the excess glue. Avoid wiping the label too much if it is excessive wet or it will tear.

Now the labels may look like they are not going to look good if the glue soaked through to the surface but no worries – once they dry they will look fine. Drying will often remove a small amount of wrinkling too. The trick that makes this work is the glue. Use a good waterproof wood glue and your labels will hang on when your bottles get wet. Note the labels will not hold on forever submerged , like in a cooler, but this is actually a good thing for when you are cleaning the bottles up for the next batch of wine or beer.

A good label is a good thing when handing over a bottle of your homemade hooch – no matter what kind!  You will get more smiles than skeptical side-eye and a whole lot less “This won’t make me go blind will it?” – I promise. 😉


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