During an amazing trip to visit the world’s great wine regions, chances are there will be more than a few bottles that you fall in love with. You might find yourself wondering about the logistics of bringing a few – or more – bottles home to enjoy later or share with your friends and family.
The good news is that it is definitely possible to bring wine back with you from abroad. In fact, there are a few options to consider. Whichever method you choose, you’ll soon be enjoying that delicious drop in the comfort of your own home.
How Can I Safely Bring Back Wine?
Most countries, including the U.S., have restrictions on bringing alcohol in from abroad. Overall, however, these are pretty easy to navigate and should not stop you from bringing home some delicious souvenirs of your trip. Here are the most common ways you can transport your wine.
Pack It In Your Suitcase
If you’re only going to be bringing home a few special bottles, then bringing the wine back in your suitcase might be your cheapest and most convenient option. It is perfectly legal to bring wine back in your suitcase as long as you are over 21 years old. But it’s important to note that due to the 100 ml restrictions on carry-on liquids, wine should always go in your checked baggage.
Laws do vary by state, but as a general rule, each traveler can bring back one liter of wine (a couple is allowed three standard-size bottles) without attracting any duty or tax.
You can bring in more bottles, however, it will attract an import tax of around $1 to $2 per liter and does need to be declared. Even still, this may be more cost-effective than shipping the wine, and there’s no chance of your beloved bottles going missing in the post.
There is no upper limit on what you can bring as long as it’s for personal use – however, customs officers may get a bit suspicious if you are bringing in a few dozen. Be prepared to explain that you’re an enthusiast, not a reseller!
If you do choose to pack it in your suitcase, make sure to pack it very carefully to avoid any spillage- or shatter-related disasters. Make sure the bottles are well-padded, and also wrapped in plastic to keep your other belongings safe.
Get It Delivered
If you don’t have the space or would prefer not to worry about the hassle of transit and customs, then getting your wine delivered is a great option. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face when your favorite dozen arrives on your doorstep!
Just note that when getting wine delivered, there is no duty-free exemption, so you will need to pay tax on all of the bottles. Also keep in mind that you should pay for shipping your wine on a credit card. That way, if the package goes astray, you’ll have grounds to dispute the charge.
Have the Winery Ship It Directly
Many wineries – especially the larger ones – regularly ship internationally and will be able to take care of all the shipping details for you. This is helpful as they will have preferred suppliers and may get better rates since they organize shipping in bulk.
Do It Yourself
If your favorite winery doesn’t offer international shipping, don’t panic! You can also do it yourself. Many courier companies like DHL work internationally, and are experienced in shipping wine. You’ll need to use a courier company as it is prohibited to ship alcohol using the regular postage system. You can also find a local shipping office by either Googling it, or asking an employee at a vineyard if they know of one nearby. Wine regions almost always have a shipping office that specializes in shipping wine – complete with containers and padding to keep your bottles safe.
You’ll just need to check your state laws to make sure they allow for importing wine. Experienced couriers should be able to help you with this and explain the import fees involved. They can also help you to make sure you’ve packed it properly so it arrives safely.
Look for Local Importers
If you’d prefer not to bring the wine back yourself, and organizing freight seems like a bit of a headache, then the best option is to speak to the producer about whether they have any local importers. You may be surprised to find that even the smaller wineries have distribution partners in the USA and elsewhere.
Even if the importer is not in your home state, you may be able to get it posted from there and minimize the costs. You might just want to check the cost of buying it locally – there can sometimes by quite the mark up, meaning the other options on this list may be more cost-effective.
Final Tips for Bringing Back Wine
Once you’ve done the hard work of getting your wine home, you’ll want to make sure that it’s tasting its very best. There’s nothing worse than opening your favorite bottle, only to find it doesn’t taste how you remember.
Even if you are not planning to cellar the wine long-term, it’s highly recommended to put down the wine for at least a week or two after you arrive. During transit, the wine is likely to have moved around and gone through a number of temperature changes which can affect its taste. Let it settle before opening the bottle.
Once you open the bottle, consider aerating it first. Often, what you tasted at the vineyard had been aerated, and you’ll want to recreate that at home as well. It won’t take long (and be careful not to over-aerate), and then you’ll be ready to enjoy the delicious wine and reminisce on your wonderful vacation.
Figuring out how to get your wine back can be a hassle. Make the front end of your trip a breeze by working Food & Wine Trails to plan your trip. We specialize in planning getaways to coveted wine regions. Contact us today to learn more!