HOW TO: cut a wine bottle and save $249

I got a catalogue in the mail the other day from something called Napa Style. I don’t know if it’s 100% from Napa or just sort of a Fred Franzia Napa style. But they had the item shown above listed as “big bottle wine hurricanes.” Yes, empty bottles, albeit big bottles, priced $99 – $249!

How hard is it to cut a wine bottle and make your own “hurricanes” with big bottles left over from your last party or gotten from a restaurant? Not hard, it turns out. Check out the video below for details. Or, to save you ten minutes of your life, score (no points!) the bottle with a tool like this, then pour boiling water from a tea pot over the score line and the glass has a super clean break, apparently.

Voila. Now, if you like this sort of decor and feel a tiny bit artsy-craftsy, you can spend the $249 on bottles that actually have wine in them, not candles.

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18 Responses to “HOW TO: cut a wine bottle and save $249”

  1. Yeah – assuming that you WANT a row of old bottles on your mantelpiece…

  2. My question is, is there enough air that comes down the neck to keep the candle lit?? I have some huge old bottles that I would try this on, but I am amazed that the flame would be enough oxygen. Anyone know??

  3. Sediment – Indeed! But it is fun to learn how to cut a wine bottle. Try it at your next party! Champagne sabering is so passé! 😉

    Jack – good point. And what about candle smudge inside the bottle? Or blowing it out? Or lifting the bottle off after it had been there a while? Clearly someone needs to experiment with this!

  4. I’ll chug a magnum this weekend and try it out. I’ll report back!

  5. Sod that – chug the “Mathusalem” (sic)!

  6. Warren – thanks! Please keep us posted in real time.

    Sediment – Yes, I noted that typo too. And which do you prefer: a “Bordeaux francese” or a “Bordolese prima”?

  7. This does indeed work AND with a bit of practice they come out with a clean break. I made/used about 100 of them for wedding centerpieces last spring. Stunning!
    The edges can be very sharp but once around the top with a diamond-bit or similiar sandpaper does the trick.

  8. So Sara,
    There is enough air that gets into the wine bottle to allow for the candle to stay lit even when you put the bottle back together?

  9. I am going to try this. The colored cut bottles look really look nice.

  10. No, there is not enough air flow to keep a candle lit with just air from the neck of the bottle.
    You will need a hole at the bottom of the bottle also, or another way for air to get inside the bottle from the bottom.
    Gluing four little cabinet “stoppers” onto the bottom of the bottle might be a way of lifting the bottle up ever so slightly to allow for air flow.
    Please post any ideas that you have tried and let us know the outcome.

  11. It works with these large wine bottles – remember these are 3 and 6 liter bottes – not regular wine bottles (750 ml).

  12. I have looked for a reference as to where to find the cutter you use, but don’t find it. Can you please reply with the link you mentioned? Thanks!

  13. I LOVE these and would love to do this for centerpieces at my wedding this September as it’s on a vineyard. I’m concerned about the bottle getting too hot and it being a hazard…has anyone else tried it yet???

  14. I have been cutting bottles for just over a year now. One thing I have learned is yes, you need to have air flow. I have been to the NapaStyle store in Yountville, CA which is in the Napa Valley and have checked out the bottles. The picture of the large bottles they have for sale doesn’t show the hole that has been drilled at the bottom of the bottles after the bottom has been broken off. I would suspect that those holes were made by a 1/2”-3/4” round, diamond tipped tile/glass drill bit. I have used bottles of equal size and the flame of a candle does go out after about a minute so that additional airflow hole is important. I haven’t started drilling the additional air flow hole YET, but I have been looking at the drill bits and will probably go ahead and buy one and experiment with them.

    To answer another person’s question, yes the bottles do get HOT when you use a flame candle in them. What I do is use battery operated “flameless” candles in them. Our local Dollar Tree store carries a 4” tall flameless candles. As soon as I develop a method that works good for me on drilling the additional air flow hole, I’ll switch to using taller flame candles. I have tried gluing the cabinet stoppers and they really don’t adhere well and I don’t like the looks of them on the bottle.

    Bottle cutters are not really “cutters”. They etch. Then it’s up to you with hot water and ice to break the bottle apart. You can find bottle cutters at some Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, other craft stores, glass shops and they are available online. Here are the names of three. To find them, just google their name:
    “Armour bottle and Jar Cutter”
    “Ephrem’s Deluxe Bottle Cutter”
    “Generation Green (g2) Bottle Cutter”

    I use an Ephrem’s Deluxe Bottle Cutter and it works fine for me. I think it’s a matter of opinion on which will work best for you. How I do it:

    STEP ONE: I remove the labels on all the bottles first by letting them soak in a sink of hot water for about 3-5 minutes. I remove any stubborn residue with “Goo Gone”.
    STEP TWO: I then etch all the bottles I have to work with.
    STEP THREE: I fill up my “whistling tea kettle” and once the water comes to a boil, I hold a bottle horizontally just a couple of inches above my kitchen sink and slowly rotate it by holding the neck of the bottle in one hand while pouring the boiling water from the tea kettle over the etch from the bottle cutter. After a few rotations, I put the kettle down and quickly take a piece of ice and rub it over the etch line on the bottle. Sometimes I will fill a pot with water that has lots of ice in it, and then put the bottom of the bottle just barely past the etch line in the ice water to break it apart. Sometimes this works instantly to break apart the bottle, and sometimes I have to repeat the heat/ice several times. The thicker the bottle, the longer to break it apart.
    STEP FOUR: Use sandpaper on the cut edge to remove any sharpness to it.

    For every 4 or 5 bottles I break apart cleanly, at least one will instantly develop a crack going up towards the neck of the bottle. It’s just the way it is when you work with glass.

    Everyone has their own method of doing what I just described, but the boiling water/ice water method works best for me.

    One last thing, I don’t drink enough alcohol to get as many bottles as I want so I have asked all my friends to save me their wine bottles which they gladly do.

  15. SusieQ – Good question. What do you think of the battery powered candles as an option? Please report back to us after the wedding and let us know what you did and how it worked out.

    Mabcbch – thanks so much for that terrific comment! Short of using a drill, can you somehow notch the bottom of the bottle once cut in order to facilitate air flow?

    Also, I’m sure many on this blog could help provide you some empties! Where are you located, generally? Otherwise, you might try a local restaurant and show them pictures of your craft (so they don’t think you’re a wine counterfeiter!). Or maybe even a wine critic or magazine in your area that tastes a lot of bottles.

  16. Dr. Vino,
    I’ve tried “notching” the bottom of the bottle with a dremel tool. Doesn’t work well at all.

    The round, diamond tile/glass drill bit I think will do the job, I just haven’t bought one yet.

    And, I have bottles coming out my ears! I have many friends who love wine. When I want larger bottles, I just hit up the local Safeway store and buy some cheap wine in the larger bottle for 3.99/bottle.

  17. This is so cool! I wana try it soon.

  18. It does not provide enough air to keep the candle going. Solutions would be greatly appreciated.


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