Monday, August 5, 2013

Cut Wine Bottle

Apparently my ability to cut wood extends to glass...

A few weeks ago I went on a trip to Napa. Since I've demonstrated wine-centric building in the past, I guess it shouldn't be too big of a stretch that I would end up doing more wine-related things.

One of the vineyards we went to, Chase Family Cellars, has beautiful bottles, and they gave us water to drink out of old wine bottles that had their necks cut off. This got the family buzzing, they wanted to re-purpose their Chase bottles the same way, so off I went to the wine bottle cutting apparatus store, where I found some tools and began working at it.

Different wines have different shaped bottles. In Europe, the wine bottles tend to be geographic.

Bordeaux wines have one shape:

Larkmead is so damn delicious... it also happens to be a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa that uses the traditional Bordeaux bottle shape.

Burgundy wines another:

Burgundy Bottle (Yes, from Willamette, Oregon and not Burgundy, France. It's Pinot Noir country. I have relatives there. Lay off me!)
The "Bordeaux" varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Burgundies use more Pinot Noir and Syrah.

In North America, we usually put wines into the bottle by varietal, Pinots end up in Burgundy bottles, the Bordeaux varietals end up in the Bordeaux style bottle. The idea, I think, is to match the  varietal to its ancestral (French) home's bottle.

The reason I'm rambling about wine types and old French counties is that the shape of the bottle effects how easy it is to cut. To cut a bottle first you have to score it. To score it, you need the scoring blade to be perpendicular to the glass. On a Bordeaux bottle, that's easy: Just put the blade parallel to the ground and it will be perpendicular to the glass. On a Burgundy bottle however... you have to get the blade into the right angle, and then maintain that angle, as you score a level circle around the bottle.

A few cut bottles all together

Bordeaux bottles look great when cut, and have some versatility. Cut 'em short: Rocks glass. Cut em' taller: Water glass. Cut 'em really tall: Vase.

See, vase - holding flowers.

A good look at a cut bottle

Burgundy bottles make natural vases when cut. The slope inward just seems to cry out for holding some flowers.

After cutting the glass, it just needs a little sanding, and voila. Actually, since broken glass happens to be really sharp, I sand them quite a bit. By the time I sand them to 600 grit, they're not going to cut anything at all.

Other varietals and regions have other bottles as well. Riesling's tend to have their own tapered shape, same with desert wines, Chiantis and others. I cut a Tocai Fruilano (Apparently also Sauvignon Vert when produced in Italy) bottle as well:

Tocai Fruilano bottle, cut

I threw up a listing on the etsy, and would be happy to cut bottles for people if they want.


  1. Can you drill holes in them there bottles too Mr. Ficke?

  2. I've never tried, but I probably can. Have something in mind?