Do you drink as much wine as I do? Well, I do not drink alone. Apart from the occasional glass of wine I have on my terrace to relax from a working day, I share my wine with friends, guests, colleagues. In wine country Argentina there is always a good occasion to kill a bottle or two.
At the end of my street is a green container. Meant for paper, carton, plastic and glass bottles, people in my neighborhood are so badly educated they throw in whatever they seem fit.
It’s not all as bad as it seems cause Argentines love to ‘recycle’. Often because they lack the means to buy what they need ‘new’.
In search for myself what to do with the pile of empty bottles in my kitchen cabinet, here is what I found. Remember, I am already building my air co from recycled plastic bottles for next Summer.
Reuse to Serve Water
This is probably the easiest way to recycle a wine bottle. Not every bottle is according to my taste. I tend to be a bit picky when it comes to home decoration.
A few months ago, just before we entered in lock down, I had dinner with a friend in a gourmet restaurant in Buenos Aires, Aramburu. It is one of the finest dining places in the city and when coming with € or USD, you’ll find it is bloody cheap. For an 8-course menu, paying cash, we paid the equivalent of 55 USD, the appropriate wine for each course included. The beautiful word for that here is ‘maridaje’, meaning pairing.
Pairing is the process of putting a meal together with the drink that best matches it. In the field of catering, pairing normally refers to combinations of food and wines, and the sommelier is in charge of recommending the combinations to diners.
At some point the waitress poured us a nice Rosé wine, a Saint Félicien made from grenache, syrah and malbec grapes. Not only did I appreciate the wine, but I fell in love with the bottle. It’s a beautiful 750 ml tempered glass bottle with a silicone o-ring and a glass stopper.
I jokingly commented this to our waitress. She replied the restaurant kept a cellar worth of empty bottles for not only being practical but because each bottle comes with a glass ‘cork’.
So now I have 12 of these bottles we use in the hotel restaurant and in the rooms to serve our guests filtered water.
Next time you like your empty wine bottle, think of what you can do. Store the olive oil you bought in a 5 liter can? Homemade yogurt or kefir?
Bottles as Terrarium
Another idea I particularly like is turning my empty bottles into a terrarium. It’s a fine controlled way to watch plants grow. It doesn’t even require you change the structure of the bottle. There are just a few things to take into consideration:
- make a good drainage layer at the bottom first
- don’t overdo the watering
- choose the right plants to be grown in this system
Small stones of any kind will do well. Then on top of the layer put some earth or sand.
And last but not the least throw the seeds on the earth and water just a tiny bit.
It’s fun to watch the plant grow slowly and occupy the bottle.
Recycling wine bottles to water your plants is easy with a Recycle a Wine Bottle Stake. It’s a great way to water plants day-to-day, and the perfect solution to keep plants watered while on vacation. Think of it as the ideal hostess gift who loves plants. Just bring along a plant nanny and don’t forget the bottle of wine !
More ideas I like, but for these you’ll need to undertake a small ‘intervention’ or adapt the bottle.
Vases, Jars for storage or a Speaker
This is something you can do with practically every kind of bottle when you like the color and its shape.
- a glass cutter ( you get from any hardware store )
- 60 and 280 grit sanding paper
- a tool ( see video ) you easily make yourself
- a glass bottle
- almost boiling water and cold water
The important thing is to know how to safely cut glass, in this case, a wine bottle, a whiskey bottle…. Round bottles are the easiest to cut cause they have equal surface tension. With square bottles like the Black Daniel’s one, it’s a bit more complicated. They have different surface tensions at sides and corners.
With one simple tool, a glass cutter, you can transform a bottle into hundreds of useful objects.
Then you can use it for a zillion purposes, a pencil holder, a vase, ….
If you are a fan of Jack Daniels’s Whiskey or the bottle, then this video on how to turn your empty bottle into a speaker is for you. It’s a bit time-consuming & you’ll need some tools, but the result is definitely worth it.
You like a good story?
I’d like to finish with a story I now remember. Before I moved to Brussels in 1994, I would occasionally go for a Sunday brunch in the rue Dansaert 16, in exactly the same spot where “Le Pain Quotidien” opened its first store in 1990. I unfortunately do not recall the name. It must have been something like ‘LE Boulanger de Ma Mère ‘ ( my mother’s baker ); but I am not sure.
Since the manager and owner of the place had two artificial legs, he made every customer pay the fixed amount of 500 Belgian Francs. This, he once told me, to make sure no one would walk away without paying the bill. Because, obviously, he would not be able to go after them.
The wall behind the long counter was completely filled with wine bottles and a simple lighting system was set up behind. It must have made quite an impression on me for still remembering it.