Sunset

My mom once told me that hanging wallpaper is the ultimate test of a marriage. So I’ve stuck to paint.

But then I tried my hand at labeling Team Wine’s Chardonnay. And I feel like I need some counseling: Home winemakers, homebrewers, paper crafters, scrapbookers, and bookmakers, what am I doing wrong?

One of the magazine’s designers used Adobe Illustrator to create labels for all of our One-Block “products” (here’s a beauty shot of them). For our 2007 Chardonnay, she used our lovely, scripty Sunset logo, a solo grape leaf, and the grapes’ place of origin: Thomas Fogarty Estate Vineyards in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Santa Cruz Mountains (practically in Sunset's backyard). And then she printed them on Avery 5265 labels, which she, being the crafty type, expertly, neatly, and evenly sliced with an X-Acto knife on a self-healing mat. She was so confident, I was sure I could replicate her motions without trouble.

Wrong. First I learned that my own craft mat is too compact to accommodate an 8 1/2- by 11-inch sheet of labels. And then I discovered that my craft knife is a little dull. So I of course mucked up the first sheet of labels.

Cutting my losses, I decided to switch to the trusty industrial paper cutter in our office. It’s old but reliable—so much so that we collectively scoffed at a new paper cutter that was positioned next to it for months, collecting dust and scraps of trimmed paper from our favored cutter. (Someone finally took pity on the younger one and found it a new home.)

But I didn’t think about what the adhesive hidden beneath each label would do to our beloved paper cutter. It wasn’t pretty. The first slice wasn’t bad, but just that one exposure to the labels’ gummy glue noticeably dulled the slicing blade, and suddenly a sticky scrap was flapping around on the blade edge. From there on out, my cuts weren’t straight. And, then through my frustration, I realized that I’d potentially wrecked Old Reliable.

So I ran away from the paper cutter with my one somewhat decent labeland tried positioning it on an empty bottle that I’d practiced mycorking on. (It was my job to guide Team Wine in bottling and corking,and I studied up.) There’s no drawing a straight line with a ruler on arounded bottle, so I figured that unsticking one corner of the label,affixing it to the clean glass surface, and then reaching under thelabel and continuing to unfurl the paper backing was the way to go. I’d(seemingly) figured out the where and how, so I decided to go for it.And … sigh.

At least when I’ve crookedly stuck an address label on a holiday card or birth announcement, I’ve been able to mail it away. But a wine bottle lingers on. A wine bottle you (should be able to) proudly display. Not only is my label slightly askew, it has a crease and a bubble in it.

So I humbly ask for your help: If you have experience with beer or wine labels, or if you’ve worked with adhesives and learned how to apply paper straight and pretty, please post any and all advice in our Comments section. I’ll report back with what managed to straighten me out.

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