Cooking oil, herbs and chilli. Wine bottle recycling.

Upcycling Wine Bottles: Homemade Chilli or Herb Oil

If you have a collection of empty small wine bottles and are looking for a creative way to upcycle them, making homemade flavoured oil is a fantastic idea. Not only does it add a spicy kick to your culinary creations, but it also makes for a beautiful and practical kitchen accessory or gift. Here’s how to remove the labels from your wine bottles and create your own flavoured oil.

Step 1: Removing the Wine Bottle Labels

  1. Soak the Bottle: Fill your sink or a large container with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. Submerge the wine bottle in the soapy water and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. This will help loosen the adhesive on the label.

  2. Remove the Label: After soaking, try peeling off the label. If it comes off easily, great! If not, use a sponge or scrub brush to gently scrub away the label and any remaining adhesive.

  3. Stubborn Adhesive: If there’s still adhesive residue, make a paste with baking soda and a bit of water. Apply the paste to the sticky areas and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub again with the sponge until all residue is gone. Rinse the bottle thoroughly.

  4. For Extra Stubborn Labels: If the label is particularly stubborn, rubbing a bit of olive oil over the adhesive and letting it sit for a while can help dissolve the glue. Then, scrub with a sponge and wash with warm soapy water.

Step 2: Making Homemade Chilli Oil


  • 1 cup of vegetable oil (or olive oil for a different flavour)
  • 1/4 cup of dried red chili flakes
  • 1-2 whole dried chilies (optional, for extra heat)
  • 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns (optional, for a fragrant twist)
  • Clean and dry wine bottle with a tight-sealing cap


  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Gather your dried chili flakes, whole dried chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns if using. Make sure your wine bottle is thoroughly cleaned and dried.

  2. Heat the Oil: In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat until it reaches about 200°F (93°C). Do not let the oil smoke; if it starts to smoke, remove it from the heat immediately.

  3. Add the Spices: Carefully add the dried chili flakes, whole dried chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns to the hot oil. Stir gently and let the mixture simmer for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavours to infuse into the oil. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.

  4. Strain the Oil: If you prefer a clear oil, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a bowl, discarding the solids. For a more rustic look and intense flavour, you can skip this step.

  5. Bottle the Chilli Oil: Using a funnel, carefully pour the chilli oil into your clean, label-free wine bottle. Seal the bottle tightly with its cap.

  6. Storage: Store your homemade chilli oil in a cool, dark place. It will keep for several months. Shake well before each use to redistribute the chili flakes.

Enjoying Your Homemade Chilli Oil

Your homemade chilli oil is now ready to be used in a variety of dishes. Drizzle it over pizzas, pastas, stir-fries, or even use it as a spicy dip for bread. It also makes for a thoughtful and delicious homemade gift!

By reusing your wine bottles, you’re not only creating something delicious but also helping to reduce waste.

Cheers to creativity and sustainability in the kitchen! 

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