I’ve recently been thinking about saving some of the labels from the wine bottles I've been drinking. Here are some of the things I learned while scouring the internet for tips on the best way to do this.
The easiest method seems to be to use a product like Label Off (pictured at left) or Wine Appeal Label Remover. These are basically industrial strength tapes that pull the outer layer of the label off, leaving a lower layer of the label attached to the bottle via glue.
One writer suggests leaving the tape stuck on the bottle for several days so that a strong bond between adhesive and tape can be formed before trying to pull the label off. Some users complain that holes or tears occur using this method. The main thing I don't like about this method is that it makes wine labels appear laminated after removal. That's not really the look I had in mind.
A method I think I am going to try is to pour piping hot water into an empty wine bottle in order to loosen up the glue. If the first application of hot water doesn't work, I will repeat the process will fresh batches of water. The good thing about this method is that the label seems less likely to be destroyed in the removal process than in some of the other methods I described below. I'll let you know how well it works.
Another method that sounds promising is using steam from a tea kettle to loosen the label. This method might be used in conjunction with the previous one.
Some wine enthusiasts swear by the method of soaking the label in hot water with a few drops of dishwashing detergent and using a razor blade to scrape the label off. I assume that soaking the label can lead to label damage.
There are also some dry heat options. Some writers suggest using hair dryers to melt the glue, but I doubt the glue would get hot enough this way. A more radical dry heat solution involves placing the empty bottle in a heated oven and using a razor to scrape off the warmed label.
Mineral oil, rubbing alcohol and even gasoline are also said to be able to remove labels, but I don't recommend any of these methods.