V Mertz is an Omaha favorite of ours, and until last night, was kept for special dinners between just the two of us. It is the location of our first date, our pre-marriage dinner, every Valentine’s Day we’ve shared, and various other fantastic evenings over the course of our relationship. Last night however, we suggested our special place to share with friends and to meet a new beau in one of their lives. As the night went on, we went through two bottles of wine, some small plates and a few desserts before the restaurant began to indicate it was nearing close. We decided that the night had not yet ended though, so we suggested taking things to Corkscrew, one of our favorite wine bars in the city, to share a final bottle of wine and some further conversation before everyone retired for the evening.
Of course, it’s not unusual that a night such this, one focused on friends and centered around dining, would include a little wine. It was only after we had gotten home, however, that we realized that not once over the course of the entire evening had anyone taken so much as a single photograph. Luckily for us, we still had the wine bottles.
Collecting wine bottle labels is something Sonja learned about from another of our dear friends, her former roommate Angie, and something the two of us began to do shortly after our engagement. At a garage sale, we picked up several photo albums donning black fabric covers and plain, cream-colored pages for a dollar each. Though we didn’t know it at the time, these were destined to become the vessels that would chronicle our adventures in wine. If wine by the bottle plays any part in your memories, we recommend this method of preserving the labels and documenting your experiences. It’s affordable, easy, and doesn’t take much time. Best of all, the finished product takes up very little space and is a fantastic conversation piece. To begin documenting your own adventures in wine the way we do it, here’s how we go about it:
– To begin with, pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Once the oven has reached 300, space your bottles out, label up, on the oven rack. Be sure to have removed the corks, and avoid placing bottles in the oven that were originally sealed with wax (it makes a nasty mess). We recommend using a Label Lift sticker for bottles like this. Label Lifts can be found at most wine shops, though we order them in bulk on Amazon.
– Set a timer for ten minutes.
– When your timer goes off, remove the bottles one at a time using a hot mitt. Using a sharp, non-serrated blade, peel a corner of the label up. Once a corner is lifted, the rest should come up easily, though some more intricately cut labels require a bit of finesse. If the label will not come off or begins to tear, simply leave it there, let the bottle cool, and apply a Label Lift to it later.
– Once removed, the label will still be tacky from the glue that originally sealed it to the bottle. Place the still-tacky label into the album of your choice. The remaining adhesive is more than enough to bind your label to the page. Note that in a few instances, we’ve encountered labels that fell right off the bottle and had no adhesive left. We’re not sure what causes this, but double-sided tape is a simple solution to the problem.
– When your labels are arranged in your album the way you like them, date the page, and jot a note. You could put tasting notes in for future reference, or merely reflect upon the great evening you had when the bottle was consumed.
Our wine journal started as we suppose that many do, documenting the taste of the wine and whether or not we liked it. As time progressed however, we have found that we write less and less about the wine itself and more of the experience we had either with each other, or sharing the wine with friends or family. After all, wine isn’t a beverage, it’s an experience. Some families have photo albums to document memories; we use our photo albums to document our wines and the memories that go with them. In a time where most of our photographs are taken and stored on our iPhones, our wine label collection is both eclectic and tangible, and reminds us and others of so many wonderful times we’ve shared. Have an idea about how to improve even further upon our wine diary? Please comment! We’d love to hear from you.