At Estancia Ranquilco, we love to feature the local, famed, Argentine wines with our meals of ranch-raised meat and homegrown produce. We bring in cases of Argentina's signature Malbecs and Torrontés, and have been doing so for many years. The result is that we've ended up with a mountain of empty wine bottles, and with no recycling center nearby, there's no easy way to dispose of them.
But, at Ranquilco, we've gotten very skilled at finding ways to reuse and repurpose - and wine bottles are no exception. This is done both out of necessity and resourcefulness as we're a 3 hour horseback ride followed by a 3 hour drive to the nearest large store.
Earlier this season we collected ~100 bottles and set out to create the 2020 season glass set. Each is uniquely its own, and together they create a lovely collection of beautifully colored glasses with a story.
Led by our internship coordinator and all around handy-man - Tom - glass cutting day is a classic in his shop. Tried and tested for the past 7 years, here is the Ranquilco playbook for making glasses via leftover wine bottles:
wine or liquor bottles
a Kinkajou (bottle scoring tool)
hot and cold water
large rubber bands / bottle cutting bands
Soak the wine bottles in water for 12-24h, removing any labels on the bottle.
Using a permanent marker, mark the bottle at the desired cup height (shorter glass versus taller glass) and complete the marking around the circumference of the bottle. This mark will end up being the brim of the glass.
We use a tool called the ‘Kinkajou’ to score the glass. Ensure the bottle is locked into place (we use a vice), and turn the bottle slowly and carefully until a light score line has been laid along your marker line. It can be difficult to get a perfect line, but don’t worry - the sanding later in the process will help. Do be sure to wear hand and eye protection to reduce the chances of any accident.
Then strap the plastic bands above and below the score line.
Alternate running hot and cold water (each for about 30 seconds) over the score, slowly turning the bottle. After 4-8 minutes, the bottle should simply split into two pieces. Sometimes it will happen on the first pour of water.
To finish the cup, thoroughly sand the top of the glass to ensure there aren’t any jagged edges that could cut your mouth.
Last and surely not least, enjoy your efforts by pouring yourself a lovely Argentine Malbec.
-- Sara Taaffe, January 2020