Upcycling Wine Bottles: Five Creative Ways to Reuse Empty Bottles


For decades, environmentalists have been urging the public to help save the environment by ‘Going Green.’ Going green entails a change in lifestyle—it means taking responsibility for your ecological footprint and making environmentally friendly choices. One of the current trends in this popular lifestyle is to upcycle old materials, turning refuse into veritable and oftentimes functional treasures.

Now, serious wine drinkers are often faced with the problem of having a surplus of empty bottles. These bottles tend to take up space in one’s wine cellar. The good news is that you can integrate these old bottles into your wine lifestyle by transforming them into essential household items.

To help you turn trash into treasure, Singapore Wine Vault has come up with five creative ways to reuse your old wine bottles.

Wine Bottle Chandelier

Creating a wine bottle chandelier is a nifty way to get rid of a number of empty bottles. Now, the number of bottles used in this hanging light depends on the simplicity or complexity of your chandelier design. In choosing your design, bear in mind that each bottle will be outfitted with a bulb. So if you’re dealing with limited space, a three-light wine bottle chandelier might be ideal.

Once you’ve decided on your design, be sure to wash your wine bottles before scoring them and removing their bottoms. You can opt to remove or retain their labels depending on the look you’re after. Next, cut out the bottom of each bottle, either using a glass cutter or by heating the periphery of the bottle—a half-inch allowance from the base is ideal. Once that’s done, you can start adding the lamp wires to their respective sockets. To fit the chandelier, you may need to cut the wire into shorter strands.

Next, prepare your base and ceiling canopy piece. If you’re using wood planks for this project, you can varnish or stain the wood to give it a more polished look. Measure the distance between each bottle and drill holes into the base. Each hole should offer a snug and secure fit for the mouth of the bottle.

Use, and conceal, a junction box to connect individual wires. Doing so will allow you to have a single grounded wire that attaches to the ceiling’s main junction box. Once you have all the pieces ready, connect everything together using your hanging hardware. A series of hook eyes should secure the chains that will hold your chandelier together. To hold each bottle in place, use a caulk gun to line the surface of each drilled hole with silicone before inserting the bottle. Insert the sockets through the plank and wine bottles. Connect these wires to the junction box, then attach the central wire to the ceiling’s main junction box. Fix your ceiling canopy piece in place and test out your chandelier.

Backyard Tiki Torches

One way you can add a dash of flair to your outdoor lighting is to use old bottles as makeshift Tiki torches. Wine bottles come in a myriad of sizes and colors. We recommend picking bottles that will complement your outdoor décor and accents. Be sure to clean each bottle thoroughly. Soaking and soaping the bottle should make it easier to peel off its label.

Using Teflon tape, tightly wrap the reducer of a ½” x 3/8” copper coupling until it fits snugly into the mouth of the wine bottle without falling in. Insert a Tiki replacement wick into the reducer, with the wick sticking out by about ¼”. Fill the empty bottle with your favorite Tiki torch oil—citronella is always a good option—then, insert the wick into the bottle. Twist the coupling into the mouth until it’s in place. Wait for the wick to absorb the oil before lighting your wine bottle Tiki torch.

If you’re planning on mounting this outdoor light onto a wall or fence, attach it using a top plate connector, a threaded rod, and a split ring hanger. Make sure the split ring hanger fits the neck of the bottle, but isn’t too tight. Otherwise, the glass will eventually break.

Yarn-wrapped or glitter vase

If this is your first foray into the world of wine bottle crafts, then a yarn-wrapped or glitter vase should be the easiest excursion. DIY-ers have been making these improvised vases for years—and it’s easy to see why. A yarn-wrapped or glitter-covered wine bottle makes a lovely centerpiece for virtually any room in the home. These types of vases are also remarkably easy to make.

As its name implies, a yarn-wrapped vase is simply a bottle that’s wrapped from neck to base in yarn. To make this vase, use a glue gun to apply adhesive to the neck of the bottle—just below the rim. Leave a bit of the tail end, and point the string down. You will be covering that bit of string as you start wrapping. You’ll want to keep the yarn as close together as possible. Use glue on the curves to keep the string in place. Keep wrapping until the base, and apply another dab of glue before snipping the end. For a more rustic touch, use twine instead of yarn.

While the glittered version of this vase, will require the use of a spray acrylic sealer, a bit of sandpaper, and a lot of glitter! The first thing you have to do is to give your empty wine bottle a thorough scrub—just enough for you to scratch up the bottle. Doing so will help the adhesive stick to the glass. Spray parts of the bottle with adhesive and begin sprinkling glitter. Keep going until you’ve covered the entire bottle. Once done, just give the bottle another coating of adhesive to keep the glitter in place.

Wine Bottle Shelves

One of the most popular wine bottle shelf designs available online is the Ten Green Modular Shelving System. This project entails the use of four bottles per module. To ensure the stability of each shelf, the bottles have to be uniform in height.

Any type of reclaimed wood can be used for this shelf. Just make sure each plank is sturdy and is also uniform in length and thickness. In an Instructables post made by member, Roy Shearer, he shared a visual instruction showing the dimensions of the drilled holes for the bottle’s neck and base. While the hole for the neck of the bottle will have to be drilled through, the bottom of the plank is best drilled to half depth.

For added stability and tension, turnbuckles or hook and eye strainers are used on each shelf. You can stack as many modules as you need—provided that each module is made and drilled in a precise manner. Modifications in design or drill dimensions may be required if you’re planning on using bigger or smaller wine bottles. To avoid scratching the floor, use corks or rubber caps for feet.

Bottle cheese trays and cutting boards

Another popular trend in wine bottle upcycling is melting glass bottles and turning them into cheese trays and cutting boards. In making this project, you’ll need to wash the bottle thoroughly to avoid imperfections on the final product’s surface. You will also need a kiln to heat the bottle to melting point.

To avoid the ‘matte’ look, spray or brush the bottle with devitrifying solution. If you’re planning on hanging the product, insert gauge wire into the neck before melting, and bend until you get the loop needed to mount the glass.

Some sources recommend preheating the kiln to 1,000-1,100 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the bottle. Others recommend smashing the bottle into bits and using a mold to achieve the product’s desired shape. The kiln will have to reach about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit for the glass to melt, but increase in temperature should be gradual. Ramping up the heat by 250-degree increments should do the trick. Once the bottle is melted, lower the kiln’s temperature to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, heating the product for another 30 minutes. Depending on your kiln program, you can either shut off the kiln immediately or you can lower the temp gradually before turning the kiln off. Either way, you’ll have to wait for the glass to cool down before taking it out. Once that’s done, you can wash and use your new cheese tray/chopping board.

So the next time you find your wine cellar teeming with empty bottles, get creative and upcycle these items.