Lighting: Use attractive shaped bottles, such as Mateus Rose and Lancers, for table lamps. Light fittings are inexpensive and easily available.
Music: Take ten bottles and pour different amounts of water in each to make a glass xylophone. Hit them with a stick to make musical notes, adjust the water levels to make a scale. Alternatively blow across the top using them like
Security: Use a hammer (and eye protection) to shatter bottles. Embed pieces, with sharp point uppermost, in cement on the top of perimeter walls to keep out intruders.
Candle holders: Empty wine bottles make good candle holders as they are stable and high enough to shed the candle light over a good area. Red candles stuck in a rounded Chianti bottle in a straw container will instantly evoke a Rome trattoria for a romantic dinner.
Dog Kennel: Bottles were used to build houses during the California gold rush when wood and bricks were unavailable. A smaller version would make a remarkable palace for your pooch. Lay the bottles on their sides, fill them with sand or earth to stop sunlight making it too hot.
Cooking: Use a Bordeaux shape bottle – that’s the one with the straight sides – as a rolling pin. For recipes that require you keep ingredients cool you could fill the bottle with cold water or pre-chill in the fridge.
Modelling: Make a model boat or house and put it in your bottle. This needs ingenuity and skill in making it collapsible so the model fits through the bottle’s narrow neck and can then be re-erected once inside the bottle and then it will amaze your friends. (I have heard that some cheat by cutting a hole in the bottle to insert the model.)
Glasses and Vases: Cut the top off old bottles to make water glasses and flower vases. You can get glass cutting kits from craft shops that contain all that is necessary, including means of smoothing off and sharp edges.
Bracelet holder: A narrow bottle, such as used for Alsace wines, makes a nifty stand to store and display bracelets.
And, of course, you can always sterilise your used bottles and fill them with your own home made wine.
There are many other uses, please share your suggestions on our forum.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.