Many of Europe’s vineyards produce some of the most sought-after wines in the world, and continue to influence other world cultures, pioneering new growing methods, developing grape genetics, and popularizing wine connoisseurship around the world. If you are a wine-buff, or would just like to sample some great wines while on vacation, then you should know How to Ship Wine Bottles, as you will most-likely discover a wealth of incredible vintages and blends that you’ll want to enjoy at home.
When you buy wine in Europe, you are generally expected to take it with you, as many wineries and vineyards lack the resources to ship it all the way back to the United States due to import regulations. This means you have to determine the Best Way to Ship Wine from Europe yourself. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options for getting your wine back stateside included in this detailed guide to shipping wine home from Europe.
Ship Wine in a Checked Box
It is possible to box up your wine (carefully) and take it home with you as luggage on your flight. This means no waiting around for it when you get home and it doesn’t cost too much. Wineries and vineyards are usually able to provide a six-bottle or 12-bottle box, however, these are often a little unreliable. Make sure you pick up a sturdy Styrofoam box that can fit neatly into a cardboard box – these are protective and light. Only take this option if you have the right packaging, otherwise it could be disaster. It is the cheapest option and would usually only cost the price of an extra bag, which can sometimes be as little as $20.
Pack Wine in Your Suitcase
If you really want to save money on sending your wine home, and are willing to take a risk, then you could pack your wine in your suitcase. The issue with this option is that you cannot take liquid on flights, and as such, you will have to check the bag in. This means that it will be subject to the airline staff getting the bags on and off the aircraft and could be weighed down by other bags. The main issue with this method is breakage, you have to do everything you can to avoid having your bottles break. A hard case is usually the best type of bag to bring, as it adds extra protection. If you can, you could try to pack all of your clothes in your hand luggage and check the wine in, packaged up in a suitcase on its own.
If you want to pack the wine with your clothes here’s how:
- Put one layer of clothing beneath the wine
- Wrap each bottle individually ideally in proper packaging, although clothes will do if you do it properly. Make sure whatever you wrap it with that you enclose each one in a plastic bag to prevent any leaks ruining your case and clothes. Wine totes (that you can sometimes get from wineries) are also good for wrapping.
- Make sure the wine is in the middle of your bag
- Try to create a bumper of clothes around the wine
- Add a layer of clothes on top of the wine, so it’s completely surrounded
- Fill any extra pockets and areas with more clothes to create extra padding
- If the airport offers bag wrapping go for it. It will help to keep your packaging job in place and make your bag more secure.
If you decide on either of the options above, and pack your wine home in your suitcase, you should be aware of the US Customs laws regarding alcohol importation. In most circumstances it’s OK to bring home up to 15 bottles of wine – roughly one case per person – as long as your wine is for personal use only, however, in some situations US Customs requires that you pay a per-liter tax (usually between $1-2 per liter), as well as small excise tax of around $0.21 per bottle. Despite the potential fees, shipping wine home in your suitcase is usually the cheapest option – just make sure to check the Customs regulations before you leave.
Buy a Wine Suitcase
Custom-built to carry 12 bottles of wine, wine suitcases are a handy invention that guarantee your wine will make it home safely. Even if you don’t intend to bring 12 bottles of wine back, you can pack six bottles and then use the remaining space to pack your clothes, as the interiors of these suitcases use adaptable foam padding that can be removed, or adjusted to accommodate all shapes and sizes. Be sure to invest in a well-made suitcase for this purpose, as the higher-end options are usually built from impact and temperature resistant materials, so your wine won’t be damaged during the airport baggage process. Some brands of wine suitcases even provide a luggage tracking option so you won’t lose your wine while connecting flights!
Ship the Wine Home From Europe
Probably the most complicated option, though still widely popular, shipping wine home from Europe using a international courier service is a smart choice for travelers sending large quantities of wine, or those who prefer the peace of mind knowing their bottles are safe from airport mishaps. Unfortunately, you can’t ship the wine back to the US through the United States Postal Service, so you’ll have to find a local shipping or courier service that has the authority to ship alcoholic beverages internationally. Many people use FedEx or UPS for this purpose, but if you choose to go this route be sure to pack your wine in Styrofoam casing, within another box.
Prices for shipping wine internationally can vary a lot, depending on where you are shipping from, and some services may charge Customs handling and broker fees, so before shipping wine home this way be sure to check the following:
- Check your state laws – not all states allow wine shipping.
- Make sure your wine is sent somewhere that people will be able to sign for it. If you send this home and you aren’t there the wine could end up being moved around a lot, increasing the chances of it breaking.
- Keep your wine receipts and book on a credit card so if something does go wrong you can claim back on your insurance.
Choosing the Best Way to Ship Wine Home from Europe
Deciding how to ship wine bottles home from Europe is an important consideration before embarking on a wine country road trip. Determine the best way to ship wine from Europe before you travel to guarantee your wine will make it home, and avoid spending extra time and money coordinating last minute international shipping arrangements. Ready to embark on a wine-tasting vacation in Europe? Discover incredible wineries and vineyards along one of Auto Europe’s comprehensive road trip itineraries, and drive your European rental car along breathtaking coastlines, palatial orchards, and historic cities, between stops at famous wine-tasting venues, and quaint local eateries.