There are several readers of Wine Press Blogger who are into home winemaking and very often I receive the same question in emails: Where can I buy empty wine bottles? So, I did some research and discovered a few places. I presume you already know how many you need. If not, figure that out first. A standard bottle of wine comes in 750ml bottles with a neck opening of approximately 18.5 mm and a No. 9 cork. This is the same size bottle you find in a grocery store or a restaurant. It would take about five 750 ml wine bottles to hold a gallon of wine. This accounts for any remaining sediment that might be left in something like a five gallon carboy. The bottles come 12 to a case and most likely you will have to order them in bulk.
You’ll also have to take into account the type of wine you are making: clear wine bottles for white wine and green wine bottles for red. If you are a true perfectionist you could also look into appropriate bottle styles for the particular wine you are making. This includes Bordeaux bottles for Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, etc; and Burgundy bottles for your Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, and so on. And lastly, Champagne bottles if you are venturing into sparkling wine production. If you’re unsure of the kind of bottle your wine would need, just visit a wine shop and find your varietal. You’ll see that all reds are in colored wines bottles and most whites will be in clear bottles. There are variations of this. For instance, most German Rieslings come in dark green or blue wine bottles.
Now, where to purchase empty wine bottles.
I’d suggest first to try and get them for free. If you are making a considerable amount of wine you’ll likely want to cut costs wherever you can, and getting recycled wine bottles for free is the best way to do that. You can always recycle wine bottles from the wines you already drink. That might take longer than you want but it’s always an easy way to pick up extra wine bottles and save yourself the expense later. Then go around to all the restaurants in your area and ask if you can have their empty wine bottles. It doesn’t matter if there is wine all over the bottles or they are dirty because you have to sterilize them anyway. Just make sure they aren’t chipped at the opening or cracked around the base. Do not keep the corks.
Another option for freebies is your local recycling plant. This is a less than reliable source though, as the bottles found here are to be crushed and recycled into more bottles so they are more likely to be severely flawed. But you could still check and see what you come up with.
Also try looking into Freecycle online. Freecycle is kind of like Craigslist, where you can give and receive used goods that would otherwise clutter up landfills. It doesn’t cost you anything and is totally moderated locally in each city by volunteers. There’s a good chance you can find some used wine bottles through this service. While you’re at it, check Craigslist.
Now if you’ve exhausted those avenues or you want to cut to the chase and buy your bulk wine bottles without hassle, here are some online options.
First is eBottles. There is one in the U.S., http://www.ebottles.com/, and one in the E.U., http://www.ebottles.eu/. Prices aren’t cheap, but you can find all the new wine bottles and styles you need here. They run about $26 USD per case of 750 ml bottles.
By far the best deal I’ve come across is through Leeners. You can get cases of glass wine bottles for about half of what you pay at eBottles.
Know of a better deal on where to buy empty wine bottles? Drop a comment and let us know.