For oenophiles who love to travel, a bottle of wine can serve as the perfect vacation souvenir or gift. But as your luggage is handled by various people and jostled on planes and conveyor belts, the risk of having that expensive bottle of red break and spill all over your clothes increases. These handy tips will help you bring home your favorite pours and avoid any airport mishaps.
BE AWARE OF AIRPORT RESTRICTIONS
You never want to be surprised at airport security, so it's important to understand the ins and outs of TSA rules for transporting alcohol before purchasing a bottle. The best way to transport wine is through checked baggage. The only restrictions in this category relate to alcohol content. Travelers can't transport bottles with more than 70 percent alcohol content and can only take five liters of alcohol between 24 and 70 percent. Fortunately, wine almost always falls below 24 percent alcohol content, meaning there is no limit to the amount of alcohol allowed in checked bags. Carry-on liquid restrictions do apply to alcohol, meaning you can't bring liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces in a carry-on. The only way to get around this rule is by purchasing alcohol after you've gotten through security at one of the duty-free stores. Duty-free allowances differ depending on country; the U.S. typically allows one duty-free liter of alcohol per person.
PACK BAGS SECURELY
There are a couple of different strategies to use when packing wine in a checked bag. One method involves putting the wine bottle in a sock, wrapping a piece of clothing around the bottle's neck until it's as wide as the bottom of the bottle, and then wrapping the bottle with additional clothing pieces (like shirts). You can add a watertight plastic bag for some extra security. Travelers can also use bubble wrap, instead of clothing, to wrap the bottle, which adds some additional protection for the journey. Regardless of how you wrap the bottle, make sure to pack it in the middle of a full suitcase to minimize the amount that the bottle will move and vibrate during transport.
PURCHASE WINE GEAR
If wrapping your expensive bottle of wine in clothing feels too risky, you can spend on gadgets to aid your traveling woes. Reusable WineSkin transport bags are available for purchase online or through various retailers. Only $15 for a pack of three, this wine-shaped bag incorporates bubble wrap to secure your bottle during travel. While the skin does have an adhesive, you can add some extra insurance by also sealing it with duct tape. Alternatively, the VinniBag costs about $28 and inflates around each bottle of wine for added protection. And if you typically transport a large number of wine bottles on trips, it's worth it to invest $70 in Wine Check. The easy-to-transport case, which features wheels and a handy strap, can carry up to 12 bottles of wine in its Styrofoam and padded container. With the bottles included, the case still meets the checked-bag weight limit. If you're in a last-mintue airport jam, Southwest Airlines usually has $5 wine packaging for purchase at ticket counters.
BACKUP PLAN: DIRECT SHIPPING
Wineries usually offer direct shipping deals that save you the hassle (and space) of packing a bottle of wine in your luggage. Depending on where you purchase from, shipping charges are sometimes small or non-existent.