Wine Travel 101: Travelling with Wine in your Bags

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Wine Travel 101: Travelling with Wine in your Bags

Trav­el­ling and world-class wine almost always go hand-in-hand. Espe­cially if you’ve planned a spe­cial wine tour in a far-away location.

But, what about if this happens:

You’ve just spent one of the best weeks of your life tour­ing around the Loire Val­ley, sam­pling some of the best wines money can buy. A few bot­tles really spoke to you, so you bought them to take home.

Now, you have to take them home. What to do?

Do you wrap the bot­tles in a towel, shove them in the mid­dle of your suit­case, then hope for the best with your fin­gers and toes crossed?

This might get the bot­tle home, but who knows what con­di­tion it will be in.

  • The bot­tle might crack and break. ‘Throw­ers’ (bag­gage han­dlers) aren’t known for their gen­tle­ness. In the words of one bag­gage han­dler I knew, “if it looks like it might fit in a stack, it’s going in that stack, one way or another.” Can your towel pro­tect the wine bot­tles from a deter­mined shoulder-check?
  • The bot­tle will be exposed to extreme tem­per­a­tures. Bag­gage cab­ins just aren’t insu­lated or pres­sur­ized the same way inter­nal cab­ins are. The dras­tic tem­per­a­ture shift can change the wine itself. It’s cold at 30,000 feet!
  • The bot­tle will be shaken. Ever won­der why bag­gage han­dlers are called ‘throw­ers’? They do what they have to, to load the plane as fast as possible.


Trav­el­ling with Wine in Your Bags Step #1: Check the Air­line Rules

Air­lines now have strict rules about liquids.

Years ago, you could take bot­tles on the plane with you. Not anymore.

When going through cus­toms, the agents may con­fis­cate your $100 bot­tle of wine due to reg­u­la­tions. They’re just doing their jobs, keep­ing peo­ple safe accord­ing to poli­cies. But, that may mean your bot­tle has to go.

It will be up to the guards to dis­pose of the wine. And they can’t drink it. After all, they’re remov­ing it because it could be explosive.


Trav­el­ling with Wine in Your Bags Step #2: Check the Coun­try Rules

Every coun­try has a unique set of rules about how much alco­hol you can bring back.

By law, you’ll have to declare all of the bot­tles you buy. If you’re not truth­ful and the cus­toms agents search and seize the ‘excess’ wine, you won’t be a very happy connoisseur.

Don’t think that you can hide your wine in your suit­case either.

If you’re only allowed 2 bot­tles and the x-ray tech­ni­cian sees three, they’ll be sure to say something.

Even if the extra bot­tle is for your dying grand­mother, who just wanted one last glass from her home coun­try before she passes on from this world… cus­toms agents have their rules to fol­low. They don’t care.


Trav­el­ling with Wine in Your Bags #3: Arrange for Transport

Worst-case sce­nario, you’re shov­ing the bot­tle in your lug­gage and hop­ing for the best. Here’s what to do in that case, but I can’t make any guarantees.

  • First, wrap the bot­tle in some­thing water-tight. A plas­tic bag could do. That way if it breaks, your white shirts won’t all become red wine coloured.
  • Sec­ond, put the bot­tle in a sock, then pad with other cloth­ing items. Place the bot­tle right in the mid­dle of your lug­gage. It’s your pack­ing job vs. the throwers.
  • Third, a soft cooler could help with the tem­per­a­ture change and bet­ter pro­tect the bot­tle in the process.

The next step up in pro­tec­tion is a spe­cially made wine sleeve. These sleeves are water-tight, padded well, and resis­tant to tem­per­a­ture flux. Some are even pretty easy to carry. Price range runs about $20 to $50.

The last thing you could do is to talk to the vine­yard instead of buy­ing the bot­tle out­right. They may be able to ship the bot­tle to your house over­seas, for a fee.

Ask your­self… “Is it worth it, to have that bot­tle back home to remind me of my trip?” Some­times, it really is.

Good luck, and enjoy!

About Dave Keighron

Dave Keighron has writ­ten 63 posts in this blog.

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