Wine sent from France as a gift
Forgive me if this has been asked ad nauseam. (or would it more appropriately be ad inebrium?)
I did a favor for friends who live in France. They know that I adore Suze (the apéro) and want to send me a bottle. I live in New Hampshire and as far as I can tell it is not available anywhere in New England. The SAQ in Quebec used to buy one case and plit it among many stores throughout the province, but even that is not a regular practice. So the prospect of this gift is wonderful.
I told them I thought it was illegal to ship wine to me through the U.S. P.S.
Is this so? Is some some other way they can do this -- UPS? Or is it simply impossible?
Thanks for any experiences or insights.
That is a complicated question, especially if you live in a control state. It is illegal to ship alcohol through the USPS. Alcohol sent through Customs could also cause problems with taxes. Essentially, you would have to make the Dept of Homeland Security and state alcohol control boards happy to make it happen. Of course, it could always slip through the cracks...
Yeah, Sacto is (unfortunately) right.
And the cracks he mentions are all too real as well.
I live in CA, and frequently buy wines from a major NY retailer.
Well, guess what: most of the time the bottles arrive via FedEx in nondescript cartons, without the -supposedly- mandatory stickers declaring alcohol contents.
Wine sent from overseas (if labelled and/or caught) will be held for personal pick-up at whatever Customs station it gets routed through - they will not - for neither love nor money - put it into regular shipping channels inside the US because of our too-weird-for-words alcohol control law structure. If you live near a Customs station or can arrange for pick up by another friend or something, it's not a big deal; otherwise it's obviously a nightmare. Tell your friends they can return the favor the next time you visit - it's far easier to bring stuff back in person.
It is possible to take chances, however with Homeland Security and terrorism concerns, many more packages from overseas are being watched. Pre-9/11 it was possible to send many things under the radar, but now it is more risky. The recipient will likely either lose the bottle or undergo major cost and hassle to get it. Best advice, fly to France and enjoy the wine there!
Duties/taxes aren't really the issue - most states allow at least a small amount to be "imported" by individuals tax and duty free Basically, the issue is whether it's worth some, if not a great deal, of risk of losing it along the way. If it's caught it won't be delivered at all, and may conceivably be "destroyed" not just impounded for pickup And it won't necessarily end up at the closet Customs Station, if there is one close by. If it's relatively inexpensive, it's probably worth it.