• Bringing wine back on the plane is easier than you think

There is a certain magic we experience when touring the famous wine regions of France: the breathtaking views, the fascinating history, the proud people, and, of course the delicious wines. Wine is a very indicative reflection of what we see and experience in the region it comes from. It is a reflection of the terroir, its own evolution through history, and of course its winemakers. Many of us fall in love with our, albeit too short, experience in France, and wish we could somehow transport, some of it, back home. Wine is, in essence, that experience bottled up, giving us the ability to relive and share our memories with family and friends while we sip.

Unfortunately, the subject of travelling with wine bottles tends to confuse even the most seasoned traveller. Does the airline allow alcohol on the airplane? What about duty and taxes? How do you safely protect wine bottles without them breaking?

Most people don’t realize that taking back wine bottles with them on the airplane is not only less complicated than they thought, but it’s often the easiest, safest, and most affordable way to get you wine back home.

Rules and Regulations:

Wine is allowed on the airplane, but there are some things you need to know before you fly with your wine. The best way to transport your bottles is in your checked baggage (also known as hold baggage in the UK). This is because carry-on baggage liquid restrictions do not allow liquid containers of more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml). The only way to get around this rule is by purchasing alcohol after security from a duty-free shop. Wine in checked-baggage is treated like any other goods.

The only restriction relates to alcohol content. Travelers can’t transport bottles with more than 70% alcohol content, and can only take 5 litres of alcohol between 24% and 70%. There is no limit on liquids with alcohol content below 24%, and wine fits into this bracket.

We do of course have to ensure that we meet the airline’s baggage weight limits. For reference it is good to remember a typical wine bottle weighs between 2.4 and 3.3 lbs (1.1 and 1.4 kg).

Next is the subject of duties. We advise to always declare your alcohol.

One large point of confusion is between duty-free allowance and what happens beyond that allowance. The US, for example allows one duty-free litre of alcohol per person. However, the duty over the 1 litre, for wine destined for personal use, is $0.75-$2 per bottle. Due to the fact that it’s so low, most customs agents do not bother to collect it. Check out this handy Flying with Wine and Alcohol 101 guide for alcohol duty rates in other countries.

How to protect your wine in transit:

If wrapping your wine bottles in clothes feels too risky, there are a number of wine accessories that will give you peace of mind. For one or two bottles there’s the reusable WineHug, which inflates around your bottle(s) and protect them in your luggage. You can use a Styrofoam bottle protector, which comes in a variety of sizes (for 1, 3, 6, and 12 bottles).

Lazenne blow up

The Lazenne WineHug – an inflatable bag that protects a single bottle

 

Lazenne insert

The Styrofoam bottle protecter (available in various sizes)

If you would like to transport a larger number of bottles, its worth to invest in the Wine Check luggage. This easy-to-transport case, which features wheels and a handy strap, can carry 12 bottles of wine in its replaceable container comprised of Styrofoam and cardboard. With the bottles packed, the carrier still meets the airline’s checked-bag weight limit. Have a look at the YouTube video to see how it works.

Lazenne Suitcase

Wine check luggage can be used time and time again and safely transports 12 to 15 bottles of wine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp-ZNiV2azI

You can order the abovementioned wine travel accessories and more from Lazenne who can ship directly to your hotel throughout France and Europe, or contact us for more info!

 

 

 

  • Frank

    Good information! I have a 12-bottle roller bag called the ‘The Wine Check’ that I’ve had for a few years to safely bring back wine from many regions. Though it’s not very practical to lug on subways and trains with other luggage in tow, I wish I had brought it to the Loire to bring back more wine.

    While there is definitely confusion amongst travelers about what (or how much) can/can not be shipped or checked, it’s worth noting that much of this confusion exists because Border/Customs agents at various airports tend to enforce country alcohol/wine regulations differently (even at the same U.S. airport point of entry, wines I brought back from Italy on three different occasions has been treated differently each time in terms of duties, checks).

    I suppose the bottom line is that checking wine on one’s flight from abroad is the best (most economical) option. The key is to have a wine tote or pack it tightly! 🙂

    Great to meet you. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. Cheers!

    • cathyhenton

      Thanks Frank – it is an issue for many of our US clients and as you say, the legislation seems to differ from state to state. There are several products on the market it would seem but this one seems pretty good value for money especially when it comes to shipping from the Loire as the wines here are very reasonable and the price of shipping can outweigh the price of the actual wine very easily.

  • Jennifer

    For years I’ve always spent the night before I travel back from Italy to the states with my good wine for aging wrapped in clothes and making sure it’s perfectly padded. I’ve always wanted to look into other products and see what is best. Nice article.

    • cathyhenton

      Thanks Jennifer – it’s a product that has been brought to my attention only recently. I hope it makes things easier for clients wanting to take a small selection of wines home with them after a visit to the Loire.

  • mjobtx

    If you really want to bring home wine safely and you plan to do it more than once, this built for purpose wine case is what I use. http://vingardevalise.com/ No more lifting and lugging boxes; no more dragging a two wheeled wine case by the handle only to have baggage handlers drop it, break the Styrofoam and a bottle or two. I travel frequently and often bring wine back with me. This case was the answer to my prayers.