Wine Wednesday: Tips for Packing Wine in Luggage

If you’re a regular reader, you know we’re oenophiles. Not only do we love tasting and learning about wine around the world, we love bringing some home to enjoy later! And on occasion friends and my dad end up the recipients of tasty bottles of wine. Wine can be delicate to travel with and you never want to arrive home to your clothes stained burgundy from a broken bottle of red. We regularly get questions on how to air travel with wine, so we’ve put together our tips for packing wine in your luggage:

wine bottles

A small portion of our wine collection from around Europe

Checked Luggage Only

This might seem blatantly obvious, but too many travelers overlook this. Whether it be nostalgia for the days before 9/11 when you could carry bottles – or even cases – of wine on or just total lack of awareness of the TSA prohibited items list, I still see far too many distraught travelers reluctantly handing over their bottles of Dom Pérignon for the TSA agents to drink later. Or worse yet, travelers standing on the other side of the ropes while they guzzle their bottle before boarding the plane.

Liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces are prohibited, with the exception of wine and spirits purchased in duty free shops after passing security. Just be aware that if you are making a flight connection in which you’ll have to re-enter security, you won’t be able to bring duty free wine through with you when re-screened. This happens particularly if you are flying international and then connecting to a domestic flight.

Checked Bottle Limits

Nearly all wine contains less than 24% alcohol, so there is no TSA-regulated quantity limit for wine in your checked bag. Check the TSA website for any changes to this policy before you travel. Individual airline baggage weight limits still apply, but you can use up your entire weight allotment for wine if you chose. Note that one bottle of wine weighs approximately 3 pounds, though it may vary slightly since some winemakers use heavier bottles.

WineSkin

Our Greek wine arrives home safely tucked into a WineSkin

Packing Wine in Luggage

The challenge of packing wine in your luggage is making sure you don’t end up with 750 milliliters of Chianti on your clothes. Wine bottles can be delicate and luggage handlers generally don’t handle your luggage with the utmost care. Your luggage is likely to get tossed, jostled, and probably will end up shooting down onto the conveyor belt upside down and backwards.

As frequent wine transporters, we’ve tried it all and have yet to arrive home with a broken bottle. When we’ve not planned in advance to bring wine home, wrapping the bottles up in something unimportant like pajamas, socks, and t-shirts will do the trick. Just be sure to nestle your bottle into the middle of your suitcase and cushion it as best as possible.

WineSkin

WineSkin are contoured to fit 750mL bottles

Now as frequent wine transporters generally bringing home 3 – 5 bottles, we use re-usable WineSkin bottle transport bags. A WineSkin is like bubble wrap in a special leak-proof vinyl bag specially contoured to fit 750 mL bottles of wine. The have an adhesive seal and will keep your bottle safe and the rest of the contents of your suitcase dry just in case the bottle does break. WineSkin are sold in 2-packs for $9.99 (order online from Amazon: Wine Skin WineSkin Bag, 2-Pack) and are often even available in wine shops if you haven’t ordered some in advance.

Direct Shipping

If it all still seems like a hassle, inquire with the wine shop about shipping options. Many wine shops and wineries will ship wine direct all over the world. They’ll take care to package it all up properly and your wine will arrive at your home without the weight and hassle of having to get it there yourself.

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Wine Wednesday: Tips for Packing Wine in Luggage

Comments

    • says

      We’ve just started seeing WineSkin more and more in shops around Europe. A winery we recently visited in Greece had them for sale for €3 each. But you can get a good deal if you order in advance from places like Amazon.

    • says

      Yes, that definitely would not be good! We’ve had luck in the past with wrapping in clothes or having the wine shop bubble wrap or box wine for us. But we like a little extra reassurance. Since WineSkin is so easy to pack, it gives us that.

  1. says

    This post totally reminded me of when I brought 8 bottles of wine back from Australia – in my carry-on in 2005 (they actually didn’t put the liquid limitations in effect until several years after 9/11).

    One thing people need to keep in mind, though, is that there are customs limits on how much alcohol you can bring into the country without paying duties on it. I remember looking at the rules extensively when I brought my wine back from Australia and decided it was a low enough charge that I would just deal with it – in the end, the customs guy barely glanced at my form and ignored the fact that I declared 8 bottles.

    Different US states also have rules about whether you can ship alcohol into the state, so people should check those before shipping anything. I remember deciding against shipping because it appeared I couldn’t legally ship wine into Illinois.

    • says

      Great points, Katie. Yes, there are still state regulations and taxes for what you bring in. And you should always be honest about what you are declaring as there are hefty fines if you aren’t honest and are caught.

      I totally remember the days when you could carry alcohol on the plane. I think it was also 2005 when we brought back bottles of rum and the like, carried on the plane in a box, from St. Maarten.

  2. says

    I need to start checking luggage so that I can bring home bottles of wine again. I think it might be a bit expensive to ship bottles from Italy to the U.S. Never saw someone guzzling their wine on the other side of security! :) But I guess I can sympathize. :)

  3. says

    Great to know! I love wine as well. I saw you’re going to SE Asia soon. Are you also going to Hong Kong by chance? If so, there’s an amazing winery there – they make wine on the island, but they import the grapes from the Pacific Northwest and other great wine regions. I can’t remember the name for sure, but if you’re going, I’ll certainly find out!

    • says

      The winery in Hong Kong sounds great! We’ll only be going to Thailand and Myanmar on this trip. But don’t be surprised when I come knocking for that info when we do make it to Hong Kong!

  4. says

    I like the WineSkin idea, I haven’t seen those before. Unfortunately when I travel around Europe, it’s usually only with a carry on luggage so I can’t bring any of the good stuff home with me.

    • says

      We travel carry on most of the time too, though we’ll check a bag on the way home to be able to bring home wine. There’s definitely been times where it just wasn’t possible to bring any home though, like from my trip to Napa Valley.

  5. says

    Good article. We’ve become experts at shoving booze into suitcases and getting them home safely. Unless you really have a guilty on your face at customs, they won’t check your baggage. One thing though about Direct Shipping – sure they can send all over the world, but you better make sure that you have all the paperwork in order for when you get home. In Canada the government distributes all booze (here in Quebec the SAQ is the government corporation). They import all booze and sell it through their own stores. A few years ago I had a box of wine shipped to me from Italy and it was a nightmare. Plus I ended up paying about 60% of the value of the wine in fees. I don’t know about the rest of Canada but here in Quebec they are very protective about their monopoly. Whole story here: http://bbqboy.net/the-san-gimignano-and-chianti-tour-italy/
    My only advice is to be very certain that you know all the rules. For instance, I didn’t know that I would have had to arrange the customs paperwork in advance. How would I know that when I was buying my wine spur of the moment? Personally, I will never have wine shipped to me directly again. Better off sneaking it in suitcases.
    Guess you guys in US don’t have to put up with all that government crap?
    Keep up the good work!
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • says

      That sounds like a pain for Canada! We don’t know about the shipping rules regarding alcohol outside of the US, so thanks for the reminder for any other Canadians reading this!

      Regulations on shipping vary from state to state, and some states are “dry” states and don’t allow the import of alcohol, like Utah and Pennsylvania. We generally stick to around 3 – 5 bottles to bring home and just do so in our suitcase.

  6. says

    Great tips…I flew up to Atlanta for the day recently and was given a great bottle of wine that I wanted to get home. I weighed the options for quite a while before deciding to check my duffle bag with the wine and pray it made it home. Thankfully it did, and the bottle rests on my shelf:)

    • says

      Glad to hear your bottle made it safely home, D.J.! We’ve only got room for about 6 more bottles on our wine racks now. Time to order another wine rack or to start drinking more often!

  7. says

    Great tips! We've certainly seen a few expensive bottles be handed over especially when people are transferring and thought they were safe… yet to see someone guzzle a bottle on the side though 😉 Love the wine skins, we're going to have to order some of those!

  8. says

    Thanks for introducing me to the wineskin. My sister the oenophile just travels with a big-a$$ roll of bubble wrap. Now I have something to get her for her birthday!

  9. says

    We just brought four bottles home from Budapest – one in a wine skin and three wrapped up with our dirty laundry. Baggage handlers can be particularly rough in China so we were thrilled not to find our bags leaking red wine on the conveyor belt!

    Thanks so much for the tip on Faust Wine Cellar! We did the six wine tasting and had an amazing time! Gabor said to tell you hello :-)

  10. says

    I should get a WineSkin, since I always seem to be traveling with wine. (The only time I check a bag — ever!) There’s just something about bringing home a bottle from a favorite winery and drinking it at home. They all make winery-only bottles, so it is that special. I love it.

    • says

      We tend to only bring beer home on road trips. I haven’t checked out any packing options for beer for when we fly. But I would have loved to bring home some Red Donkey from the Santorini Brewing Company in Greece!

  11. says

    I think it’s high time we paid a visit to you guys! Your wine collection looks awesome. I can vouch for the wine skin too. We used it once coming back from Toronto and it worked like a charm. Though, too often than not, we usually just stuff the bottle in between some clothes and pray. :)

  12. vicky says

    Just got off the phone with TSA and they report there is a limit of 5L per bag, thus the wonderful 12 bottle winecheck.com shipper I had found won’t work, unless I only fill it with 6 bottles!

    • says

      Hi Vicky! Actually, and I just doubled checked with TSA again to ensure our information is current, there is no limit for the number of bottles or liters if the alcohol content is less than 24%. As nearly all wine contains less than 24% alcohol, you have no limit.

      The 5 liter limit specifically applies to alcohol between 24 – 70% because it is then considered a hazardous material. Alcohol greater than 70% cannot even be brought into the US.

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