6 Expert Tips for Traveling with Wine
So, you found the perfect bottle of wine and you simply must transport it home. Don’t even think about just shoving it into your suitcase. Wine Enthusiast tapped a seasoned road warrior, David Glancy—master sommelier and CEO of the San Francisco Wine School—and our editors for packing solutions, tips and tricks at a variety of price points. Here’s to bringing a coveted bottle back safe and sound.
Tip: Keep a copy of alcohol-transport regulations with you at the airport.
Tales abound of wine country vacations gone wrong when travelers try to check cases of wine in at the airport. Come armed with the TSA’s and your airline’s current rules on packing alcohol into checked luggage. Many airline employees aren’t fully informed about their own policies.
Tip: Use heavy clothing or bubble wrap to protect bottles when placing wine in your checked luggage.
Cost: Free–$5 or less
“I travel often for the Society of Wine Educators’ meetings and conferences,” says Glancy. “My technique has been to individually wrap each bottle thoroughly in heavy clothing I’ve packed, like jeans or sweaters. When I’ve done it this way, the bottles have come through unscathed, so far. If you’ve got it, bubble wrap around bottles is even better.”
Make sure the wrapped bottles are very snugly positioned to avoid shifting inside your suitcase while in flight.
Tip: Ship your wine…or use a wine-shipper box with foam inserts.
Cost: $11–70 for the shipper box and foam
If you’re buying bottles from a wine shop or winery, purchase a standard shipping box with Styrofoam inserts molded to hold bottles, then ship it home. But, if time or cost doesn’t allow this, use the shipper-box strategy for safe airplane transport. Airlines like Southwest often accept sealed cardboard wine-shipper boxes.
“I did this recently when I needed wine for a tasting the next day and didn’t have time to ship it,” says Glancy. “With bottles safely packed into the wine-shipper box, it was the only time I was not nervous to transport wine.”
Tip: If you’re afraid of leaks or breaks, use “absorbent padding” for your bottle.
“Many wine sellers now offer WineSkins, which I understand work well,” says Glancy. “Perhaps even better is the JetBag, which basically has a diaper inside to absorb 100% of the wine in the off chance that it breaks.”
Tip: For short hauls or overnight trips, simply use a bottle guard.
If you’re not hopping on a plane, but are still trying to transport wine, don’t let the bottle jostle around. This neoprene bottle protector has a convenient handle, and the scuba suit material is shock absorbent.
Tip: Use a detachable bottle divider inside a messenger bag for wine jaunts around town.
This tan leather saddlebag works well for wine professionals carrying two bottles at once—or those who just like chic design (the divider is removable). Bonus: The bag comes equipped with a corkscrew holder inside.