Shipping Wine: Get Your Bottles Home Alive

Interior of a Wine Check Bag

Packing bottles into a Wine Check bag

Honestly, shipping wine is a pain.

The laws regarding shipping wine are complex and vary substantially from one state to another. This is due to the fact that, at the end of Prohibition, the federal government left it up to each state to determine their own liquor laws. First, it is illegal for individuals to ship wine anywhere in the country. Neither the U.S. Post Office nor the parcel companies, such as Fed Ex and UPS, will knowingly ship alcohol for an individual.

If you choose to try shipping wine anyway, it may or may not arrive at its destination. Of course, wineries and wine shops can ship wine. However, they cannot ship wine to all states. To sort out whether or not you can receive wine from them, you can ask the winery or shop. Or, you can visit this Wine Institute page that tries to sort out interstate wine shipping laws by state.
Once you’re ready to ship the bottles, you’ll need proper packaging. Most packaging stores don’t carry it as a standard item, so buying online is a good time-saver.

There are two options. The all-cardboard designs are very space efficient, environmentally friendly and affordable.

cardboard wine shipper

Cardboard wine shippers are an efficient choice.

Styrofoam shippers are absolutely essential many months of the year though. Exposure to high temperatures, or rapidly changing temperatures, can ruin wine.

styrofoam wine shipper

Styrofoam wine shippers are the safe choice because they protect against extreme temperatures.

When it comes to physically carrying your own wine by plane, train or automobile, the laws again vary by state. In some places, it’s no problem. In others it may be or there are strict volume limits (ex. three gallons).

If you do transport wine, you want to make sure it arrives intact. There are special wine transport boxes with styrofoam inserts that will protect your bottles from both temperature changes and impact. Some wineries will have these available. They may also be available for purchase at some specialty packaging stores that sell items for people moving households.

It is no longer allowable to bring wine as or in carry-on baggage on airplanes. However, you can bring it as checked luggage. If you plan to do that, you’ll obviously want to make sure it is packed very well. There are two options: a case just for wine or putting bottles in your suitcase.

This is the dedicated bag I use for checking wine on airplanes. I also put this in the trunk of my car sometimes for wine country trips. The styrofoam keeps my purchases cool even if it’s hot outside.

wine check bag exterior

The Wine Check bag holds 12 bottles in protective, temperature-maintaining styrofoam.

If you carry wine on planes and trains routinely, consider a more robust carrier. This Case Pro wine case holds 12 bottles in a rugged shell. It should also be easier to wheel around than the Wine Check.

Case Pro wine suitcase

The robust Case Pro wine suitcase

On the other hand, if your wine travel is more casual and involves fewer bottles, you might consider the specially-made, leak-resistant and padded Wine Skin bottle transport bags. With those, you just put the wine in your suitcase or a regular box packed with clothing. In a pinch, a plastic trash bag, some diligent wrapping with t-shirts and then careful packing has done the trick for us.

wine skin bottle transport bag

Use a Wine Skin to safely carry wine, spirits or olive oil in your luggage.

Copyright Fred Swan 2016. All rights reserved.

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