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Air travel with wine

m
MelMM Aug 11, 2012 05:33 PM

In the coming month, I may need to travel by air with a couple bottles of good wine. Specifically, an aged, first growth Bordeaux. I know in the past (pre - 9/11) you could bring a bottle or two on board as carry-on, but I assume things have changed.

Has anyone traveled with higher-end wines, especially aged wines, and if so, what advice can you give me?

  1. lynnlato Aug 31, 2012 05:18 AM

    UPDATE:

    I brought 3 bottles back from the Veneto region and all 3 are safe and sound! I love these wine bags. They are my new favorite thing!

    FYI, we were fortunate enough to score a special tasting at L'Arco in Negrar. For those of you that are familiar, Luca Fredrigo is the winemaker and he is Quintarelli's protege (and, he told us that he dated Quintarelli's granddaughter for several yrs). He was a very modest, charming young man who is extremely passionate about his wine. He was very concerned about how we were storing and transporting his wine and wanted to be certain that it didn't overheat. He also didn't accept credit cards and was so kind in telling us that if we didn't have the cash we could send payment later - unbelievable! His place was extremely difficult to find because there is very little info on the web and he has no signage. He likes it like this because the folks that do find him, do so because they are passionate and determined. :)

    1. lynnlato Aug 14, 2012 05:13 PM

      I am traveling to Italy next week and I hope to bring home a bottle of olive oil from my friend's family olive orchard. I have the wine skin bags that zin1953 referenced in a post. My question is w/ customs - will I be allowed to bring into the U.S. a non-commercially bottled bottle of olive oil?

      11 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato
        Veggo Aug 14, 2012 05:56 PM

        That's a tweener. Of course you will pack it well in checked luggage. Declare it as "1 liter olive oil" , with a value of $US10, with no additional detail on your declaration form, and hope for the best. You will have done nothing that puts you at any risk beyond its possible confiscation by an overzealous and underinformed customs agent. I emphasize, describe all of your items in the simplest and fewest words.

        1. re: Veggo
          sunshine842 Aug 15, 2012 01:06 AM

          Yep. Declare it...but you don't have to write its life history. (Penalties for non-declaring can be punitive...if they confiscate it, you lose the oil, but you don't get in trouble)

          1. re: sunshine842
            b
            BN1 Aug 15, 2012 09:21 AM

            Why would customs confiscate olive oil? I was questioned by customs about declared Tuscan olive oil I brought through SFO. The officer wondered why I bothered when it was produced locally. I explained that although there were large commercial producers of excellent oil where I lived, each region has a distinctive flavor. There were no further questions.

            1. re: BN1
              sunshine842 Aug 15, 2012 09:33 AM

              non-commercially-produced agricultural products can sometimes be an issue.

          2. re: Veggo
            lynnlato Aug 15, 2012 11:49 AM

            Thanks so much Veggo and sunshine842, for the good advice.

            1. re: Veggo
              lynnlato Aug 16, 2012 07:51 PM

              By the way, how do you claim your wine? How specific are you? I want to try and score a couple nice amarones. I'm just wondering how much info I need to share.

              1. re: lynnlato
                Veggo Aug 16, 2012 08:27 PM

                2 bottles wine. forty dollars.

                1. re: Veggo
                  sunshine842 Aug 17, 2012 01:00 AM

                  Yep -- just tell them it's there. That's all.

                  The way that the regulations work, all that matters is that it's "wine", anyway -- doesn't matter if it's MD 20/20 or a Cheval Blanc. There might be some exceptions with some other products (like cheese, before the punitive duties on Roquefort were listed) but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

                2. re: lynnlato
                  lynnlato Aug 17, 2012 06:58 PM

                  Thanks Y'all!!!! Momma doesn't wanna get all angry and stuff cuz her good stuff got confiscated.

                  Seriously, thanks a bunch. :)

              2. re: lynnlato
                iL Divo Aug 17, 2012 08:49 PM

                I brought back 3 bottles of olive oil from Italy when husband and I went in 2005.
                One was from the villa we stayed at, I wanted it for the bottle as a memento although the olive oil was yummy. 2 others were ones we'd found and tasted at farmers markets or whatever they're called there. I wrapped them securely in my luggage and declared them. No trouble going through customs and was more worried they'd find the villas fresh tomatoes that I'd also brought from the villas vines.

                Dang that security canine sniffer :X

                1. re: iL Divo
                  sunshine842 Aug 18, 2012 02:48 AM

                  Did they take the tomatoes?

                  That one's a pretty blatant violation -- the USDA is pretty vigilant about live plant materials -- they even confiscated a storebought apple I'd picked up in London that still had the sticker on it. (I wasn't too fussed - I had stuck it in my coat pocket and promptly forgot about it -- by the time the beagle sat down next to me, it was pretty beat up)

              3. The Chowhound Team Aug 13, 2012 01:23 PM

                Folks, if you want to share how you do / don't ship wine and info on the legality of that, that's fine. But if you want to judge other hounds for how they do / don't ship wine, please keep it to yourself. Talk about chow, not your fellow chowhounds.

                1. w
                  wyogal Aug 13, 2012 07:54 AM

                  I would check with a wine store about doing the shipping legally. and if it's not possible, then, I'd take the time to drive it there, as it is a very special situation.

                  1. Bill Hunt Aug 12, 2012 07:25 PM

                    I used to fly to Napa/Sonoma often, and would check 2 1-case styro shippers, banded and empty, then fill them, and check them as luggage. Then, 09/11 hit, and I had both shippers taken apart, and the wines spread all around. I quit, and have not shipped wine in luggage, in any fashion since.

                    A two-bottle styro-shipper should fit into a suitcase, but then you have run the risk of the TSA, or the baggage handlers pilfering it.

                    Last time that I did wines in carry-on, was a Duty-Free Port purchase at LHR, and I only had a few issues, when I arrived at SFO, cleared Customs, but had to re-check things, for PHX. That was the last time that I did that, as it became a big hassle for me.

                    Good luck,

                    Hunt

                    1. m
                      mariawinegirl Aug 12, 2012 02:36 PM

                      There are wine chek's now which are handy suitcases that you can check with your luggage. They hold a case of wine safely, and many wineries such as Flora Springs and Ehlers Estate in the Napa Valley carry them for about $65.

                      1. s
                        sedimental Aug 12, 2012 04:14 AM

                        I pack and ship expensive aged wine alot, here are some of my recommendations:

                        I would not pack it in your suitcase. I have had my suitcase rifled through on many occasions....have you seen them throw the luggage around? A younger wine can handle the mistreatment better than an older one. But if you want to try:

                        Aged wines are most fragile in the neck, specifically the CAPSULE. It will loosen if not wrapped well -and the more air space between the cork and the wine in a older bottle can cause problems. I wrap the body in paper, then make a "sleeve" out of bubble wrap to encase the capsule and run it down the neck, then wrap the entire bottle in bubble wrap, pushing the end up into the punt. Use lots of tape. Put it in a plastic bag and seal it, then make sure it doesn't slip around in the suitcase.

                        My best advice is to go your local wine shop and ask them to ship it for you. Overnight is expensive, but it guarantees that it won't be sitting in the 102 degree UPS storeroom for a day or two. Pay the 50 bucks so it won't be ruined.

                        If you ship it yourself, remember that UPS often drops the boxes about 5 feet in the air onto the ground, it needs to withstand that level of abuse and it does not matter if you write "fragile" on the box. "Fragile" are boxes are thrown on the conveyor belt right next to the "non-fragile" ones and if loaded into the truck first, will be *underneath* everything else.

                        Your wine shop can get it there safer than you will be able to.

                        44 Replies
                        1. re: sedimental
                          m
                          MelMM Aug 12, 2012 07:25 AM

                          Thanks so much for the tips.

                          I'm wondering what options a wine shop has for shipping that I don't. I mean, most business ship FedEx and UPS just like the rest of us. If they ship a lot and have an account, it's cheaper, but it still goes on the same truck, the same plane. Does anyone know how shops ship, and if they really have a way that's different from me FedExing it in a stryropack?

                          There are no good wine shops in my town. I can drive to Charlotte and have more options, but I'd like to know that it is really better than what I can do myself closer to home.

                          If I ship it myself, I have no problems springing for styropacks and overnight shipping. The cost isn't really an issue here.

                          1. re: MelMM
                            jlbwendt Aug 12, 2012 09:36 AM

                            Just don't tell FedEx that it's wine....

                            1. re: jlbwendt
                              Fowler Aug 12, 2012 10:55 AM

                              That is a good way to get slapped with a huge fine if they x-ray and open the box and find you are shipping wine.

                              1. re: Fowler
                                Veggo Aug 12, 2012 12:34 PM

                                FedEx employees do not wear little tin badges and can not slap you with a huge fine.

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  sunshine842 Aug 12, 2012 12:44 PM

                                  no, but they can turn you over to the authorities (the ones who DO wear badges) for illegal shipment of goods. And yes, it DOES happen. Not typically for a single bottle of wine, but it does happen.

                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    Veggo Aug 12, 2012 12:49 PM

                                    When shipping 2 bottles of wine from South Carolina to Texas becomes a hangin' offense, I will gladly surrender my US passport and retire elsewhere. I have lots of competing options.

                                    1. re: Veggo
                                      i
                                      Isolda Aug 12, 2012 12:59 PM

                                      In Texas, everything's a hangin' offense. They execute prisoners with abandon, and heaven forbid you should receive a bottle of wine thru the mail! That said, when we lived in Texas, we did receive regular shipments of cases of wine from California wineries in unmarked boxes with no problem. The wines were all young, however, and they were shipped overnight.

                                      1. re: Isolda
                                        Tripeler Aug 21, 2012 07:24 AM

                                        Comedian Ron White says that not only does Texas have the death penalty, but they also have an Express Lane for it.

                                  2. re: Veggo
                                    Fowler Aug 12, 2012 02:29 PM

                                    See my response to zin, Veggo.

                                    Please feel free to send me some wine and prove me wrong though! :-)

                                  3. re: Fowler
                                    z
                                    zin1953 Aug 12, 2012 02:03 PM

                                    NO, IT IS NOT . . . .

                                    1. re: zin1953
                                      Fowler Aug 12, 2012 02:27 PM

                                      What's with using the ALL CAPS???

                                      I speak from experience, zin1953. Have things changed since December of 2011 when I attempted to ship wine from San Francisco to a suburb of Chicago, Illinois via FedEx? Have you had a different experience?

                                      1. re: Fowler
                                        Veggo Aug 12, 2012 02:36 PM

                                        What happened?

                                        1. re: Veggo
                                          Fowler Aug 12, 2012 02:58 PM

                                          What happened is that after one of their desk clerks informed me of the potential fine I thanked them and took the case to a wine store for shipment. It apparently is not an issue in California for a licensed winery or licensed wine store to ship wine to a legal state.

                                        2. re: Fowler
                                          z
                                          zin1953 Aug 12, 2012 05:39 PM

                                          I ship wine all the time, and have wine shipped to me, via FedEx and/or UPS.

                                          Since 9/11.

                                          Not once has any UPS official (or even UPS flunky!) ever mentioned the word "fines," or threatened to turn me over to DHS. I have even used FedEx from time to time.

                                          What I could *not* do, admittedly, is use either UPS or FedEx to ship overseas -- even to myself. Hence, carrying the dozen bottles in my suitcases . . . .

                                          1. re: zin1953
                                            Fowler Aug 12, 2012 06:43 PM

                                            That is very interesting zin1953: This is the official FedEx policy on wine shipping:

                                            ***
                                            Who can ship wine and to whom?

                                            Overview
                                            Licensee-to-licensee in the U.S. 1
                                            Licensee-to-consumer in the U.S. 1
                                            Licensee-to-licensee internationally 1
                                            Licensee-to-consumer internationally 1
                                            ***

                                            Zin1953, are you a licensee? Also, when you did ship wine were you disclosing the contents of the box as wine?

                                            1. re: Fowler
                                              z
                                              zin1953 Aug 12, 2012 10:08 PM

                                              The ONLY time I have ever said "I'm shipping wine" is when I am checking it as luggage -- usually in a 12-pack styro shipper. If I'm not traveling with the wine, then . . . it's not wine! Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil -- anything BUT alcohol.

                                              Never been fined, never been threatened, never had to deal with little tin men with little tin badges . . . .

                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                Fowler Aug 12, 2012 11:17 PM

                                                But Jason, you claimed:

                                                "I ship wine all the time, and have wine shipped to me, via FedEx and/or UPS...."

                                                And when I provided the FedEx evidence indicating that was not possible (note my comment about FedEx shipping policy), you claimed:

                                                "The ONLY time I have ever said "I'm shipping wine" is when I am checking it as luggage"

                                                Please clarify your statements if not for my benefit, but for the benefit of all that may be misled by your original claims.

                                                Thanks

                                                1. re: Fowler
                                                  z
                                                  zin1953 Aug 13, 2012 07:44 AM

                                                  WTF? There have been ZERO misleading claims here . . .

                                                  a) "I ship wine all the time." OK. Let's be specific. Is it every day? No. 2x a week? No. Is it once every month or two? Yes. Have I been doing that over many years? Yes. Would I consider that "all the time." Well, in the course of a discussion on the internet, or in a casual conversation with friends and acquaintances, the answer would be yes. YMMV, but I would hardly call it misleading.

                                                  b) " . . . and have wine shipped to me." Well, that's true. Wine comes to me from various sources across the US and from overseas. I have even had wine shipped to me via the MAIL -- flat-out illegal, as far as the USPS is concerned, but perfectly legal as far as the postal services of France, Spain, and Portugal are concerned. (Go figure.) Nothing here I would consider misleading.

                                                  c) ""The ONLY time I have ever said "I'm shipping wine" is when I am checking it as luggage." Well, that's true. But it's ONLY misleading IF you take partial quotations and/or quote people out-of-context. Re-read what I wrote, which I shall reprint below:

                                                  >>> The ONLY time I have ever said "I'm shipping wine" is when I am checking it as luggage -- usually in a 12-pack styro shipper. If I'm not traveling with the wine, then . . . it's not wine! Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil -- anything BUT alcohol. <<<

                                                  Now, I'm sorry if you found that confusing. To me, it's quite clear and it concurs precisely with what maria lorraine wrote:

                                                  >>> BTW, I'm not telling you to be mendacious, uh, but, uh, call it vinegar or balsamic or syrup or fruit juice or flavored water. Do not declare it as alcohol in any form. <<<

                                                  Still confused? I don't see how, but let me try to explain it further, and see if this helps . . . .

                                                  The only time that I answer the question "What's in the box?" with the word "Wine," is if the bottle(s) are in my checked baggage on an airline. In other words, I never tell FedEx or UPS that I am shipping wine as I wave bye-bye to the package and send it off into the world on its own. I tell UPS and FedEx that it's balsamic vinegar or California olive oil or *anything* to account for the combination of glass and liquid and weight.

                                                  And in all the years I have been doing this -- both before and after 9/11 -- I have only had a problem twice. Once was with DHL, which no longer accepts wine for shipments in or to the US; and once was when the USPS rejected a package from the Spanish post office and returned it to the sender (no confiscation, no fines), because it was declared as "wine."

                                                  OK, now you tell me exactly where I have been misleading.

                                                  1. re: zin1953
                                                    w
                                                    wyogal Aug 13, 2012 07:52 AM

                                                    So, you lie to the shipping agent about shipping wine? You call it something else?

                                                    1. re: wyogal
                                                      z
                                                      zin1953 Aug 13, 2012 10:37 AM

                                                      USUALLY, no one ever asks me -- all they want to know is if it is flammable or hazardous material. If -- and it's a big "if" -- IF they ask me what's in the package (instead of asking me if it's hazardous or flammable), I tell them what everyone else I know tells them: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, something to account for the glass, the liquid, and the weight. Just as I've done since the 1970s . . . .

                                                      Now there have been many times since the 1970s when I *have* been in the trade and was shipping wine on behalf of the winery/importer/retailer for whom I worked. Generally speaking, it's clear that it's wine from two things: one is the return address (Cache Phloe Vineyards, Napa CA), and the other is the "Adult Signature Required" sticker on the package. But I have not been referring to that. In the long (and slightly silly) thread, I've been referring SOLELY to those packages I have shipped out as a private individual.

                                                      That said, even when driving a van painted with the name of a very famous wine store on the side . . . even when shipping original wooden cases (OWC) full of Bordeaux and branded with the name of the château and vintage on the end . . . the air freight shipping clerk at LAX said to me, "Another load of jams and jellies, huh?" (And yes, that was before 9/11.)

                                                      1. re: zin1953
                                                        w
                                                        wyogal Aug 13, 2012 10:43 AM

                                                        So then, your answer is "yes?"

                                                        1. re: wyogal
                                                          Fowler Aug 13, 2012 10:53 AM

                                                          Apparently so, because zin1953 just stated another example:

                                                          " IF they ask me what's in the package (instead of asking me if it's hazardous or flammable), I tell them what everyone else I know tells them: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, something to account for the glass, the liquid, and the weight."

                                                          I found the "what everyone else I know tells them" part interesting. As if two wrongs make a right.

                                                          1. re: Fowler
                                                            sunshine842 Aug 14, 2012 01:02 AM

                                                            The problem with not being straightforward (or outright saying that it's something that its not) is that if they *should* pull your package out for inspection for any reason, and they find that you have filled out paperwork that doesn't match what's inside the box, the penalties for falsifying the paperwork are far more of a problem than shipping the stuff in the first place would be.

                                                            I've toed the line religiously, because when you make your living shipping stuff around the world (and have responsibility for filling out hazmat paperwork), getting docked for something as stupid as misclaiming a bottle of wine can mean putting your job on the line. When you do it for a living, you have to abide by the regs, whether it's in your personal or professional life.

                                                      2. re: wyogal
                                                        Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 07:22 PM

                                                        I have never told a shipping agent a lie. I tell them what I am shipping. Now, should the package originate from, say the winery. I do not know what they tell them. In most cases, I have to sign for "alcohol," but not in all.

                                                        Hunt

                                                      3. re: zin1953
                                                        h
                                                        Hobbert Aug 13, 2012 08:01 AM

                                                        Apparently you've been misleading every time you mail wine...

                                                        1. re: Hobbert
                                                          Veggo Aug 13, 2012 08:39 AM

                                                          I'm with the zinster on this one: I don't acknowledge that shipping a couple bottles of wine is a criminal offense, and if a little mendacity must precede my malbec, madeira, or Mouton, so be it. I have a larger self interest in its safe arrival than anyone else, and I pack them well.

                                                          1. re: Hobbert
                                                            m
                                                            MelMM Aug 13, 2012 01:32 PM

                                                            I think you are being really (and unnecessarily) hard on Veggo and zin1953. As the OP, I appreciate hearing all my options, legal or not. I'm an adult, I can make up my own mind which way I want to go. It has been clear to me from the get-go, from their posts, that the ship-it-myself option would involve withholding information. I'll weigh that risk for myself.

                                                            I don't know anyone who is completely law-abiding. I think most people are mostly law-abiding, but we all have the odd law here and there that we think goes do far. Some people smoke a little pot. Some people ship a few bottles of undeclared wine. Some people (most) drive over the speed limit. Where I live, we still have blue laws, and while I can get a drink in a restaurant on Sunday, I can't buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store. One local grocer has decided to circumvent this law, claiming that because they have a deli that serves prepared meals, they are like a restaurant (there are some tables, where you could consume said prepared meal on site, but most don't). Thus I can go in, and buying nothing from the deli, buy as many bottles of wine as I like on a Sunday. I do this every chance I get, because I detest blue laws, and I love that this place has found a loophole. To me, I almost feel a moral obligation to buy some wine there on Sunday.

                                                            As far as shipping my wine goes, I'm probably going to go the legal route this time. It makes sense based on the bottles in question, the purpose in sending them, the situation in general. But I do feel it is ridiculous that I can't legally ship a bottle of my own wine to myself in another state. With different bottles in a different situation, I would be more likely to go the route the Veggo and Zin have chosen.

                                                            1. re: MelMM
                                                              h
                                                              Hobbert Aug 13, 2012 01:42 PM

                                                              I'm glad you've decided to follow the law and I wish you luck in shipping it. I hope you enjoy this special bottle and you have my sympathy for the sad situation that caused you to post your original query.

                                                              1. re: MelMM
                                                                Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 07:25 PM

                                                                I agree with you. I usually drive over the speed limit, but within the "allowance."

                                                                For shipping wines, I do not claim "olive oil," or similar. I did not do that with checked luggage (pre-911) either. What the winery, or retailer tells them, I cannot state, and do not really care, so long as my wines end up on my doorstep, in good condition.

                                                                Hunt

                                                              2. re: Veggo
                                                                Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 07:23 PM

                                                                Are you saying that you do not claim all those Cubans, at US Customs?

                                                                Hunt

                                                              3. re: Hobbert
                                                                z
                                                                zin1953 Aug 13, 2012 10:26 AM

                                                                You can NEVER "mail" wine -- it's illegal.

                                                                1. re: zin1953
                                                                  Veggo Aug 13, 2012 10:50 AM

                                                                  Illegal doesn't mean never. I mail Cuban rum to my brother in Vermont. With Epoisses.

                                                              4. re: zin1953
                                                                Fowler Aug 13, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                zin1953 said,

                                                                " I never tell FedEx or UPS that I am shipping wine as I wave bye-bye to the package and send it off into the world on its own. I tell UPS and FedEx that it's balsamic vinegar or California olive oil or *anything* to account for the combination of glass and liquid and weight."

                                                                And how is that not misleading? At least now we know how you are able to send wine via FedEx and all of my points in this thread stand true.

                                                                1. re: Fowler
                                                                  Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 07:27 PM

                                                                  I cannot speak for Jason, but in my case, I never tell the shipper anything. The winery, or the intermediate shipper does all of the talking. I buy the wine. They get it to me. That is all that I care about.

                                                                  Hunt

                                                                2. re: zin1953
                                                                  Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 07:20 PM

                                                                  I have also shipped MY wine to myself, via several companies. Matter-of-fact, I had some DRC's shipped to me, from Maui, when the local restaurants cited the Maui County rules on NO BYOW, at any time.

                                                                  I have shipped my wine from Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Spain, Italy and France. Never had an issue, other than having to ship in cooler months, as I live in Arizona.

                                                                  I've had to pay a few $'s to US Customs, and the like, but no problems, that I can recall.

                                                                  Still, I do not do it THAT often.

                                                                  For CA wines, I would rather drive and have maybe a dozen styro-shippers, empty and ready to receive my purchases. Old Landcruiser could do 13 styro-shipper cases, but the new Lexus "Cruiser" will not be able to do that, as the 3rd row seats do not remove easily, like the old guy's. Still, it should allow for about 10 cases, should I choose to bring that much back (cellar overflowing).

                                                                  Hunt

                                                    2. re: Fowler
                                                      s
                                                      sedimental Aug 12, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                      It is never a good idea to ship fed x. they tend to care, and will flag you for future shipments. They have been historically more strict with enforcing their rules, and their employees are clearly trained to pay attention.

                                                      UPS looks the other way and actually tries not to care, although you are still breaking their rules.

                                                      OF course, you are breaking the law if you use USPS...that is another matter altogether.

                                                      1. re: sedimental
                                                        sunshine842 Aug 12, 2012 11:29 PM

                                                        I know a guy who used to work at UPS -- and they regularly pulled illegal (against the T&C, as well as hazmat or other restricted materials - porn in some states, alcohol, "medications") goods out of the process.

                                                        Common carriers have the right to open and inspect your parcel at any time -- it's in the T&C when you hand them the package. They have the right to report you for any infraction of state, federal, or international shipping regulations (as is applicable).

                                                        I used to make my living moving goods around the world -- fines and criminal charges do happen -- as I stated above, not typical for a single bottle, but they do happen, and it is possible. A single bottle would likely just be "lost in shipment" - they would likely advise you, however, that they had disposed of it.

                                                        They are not under any requirement, legal or moral, to return a shipment to you if there are broken bottles. They are not allowed to transport a package that is visibly leaking liquid -- they are also not obligated to figure out what that liquid might be to decide what they should do -- they pitch the whole box, probably unopened. (a leaking box may trigger an investigation to ensure that it's not dangerous in any way).

                                                        Fines and criminal DO happen.

                                                        What you do with that information is up to you.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                          s
                                                          sedimental Aug 13, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                          I think you misunderstood my post.

                                                          The "leaking bottle wine story" was labeled as wine. As I said, it was being shipped under the Winebid label. When you ship wine for auction, the auction house provides you with labels to ship with. It was perfectly acceptable, it is clearly marked as WINE. My surprise, was that the carrier did not give me a chance to rescue my contents. I would have flown to wherever the box was to get it. They didn't have to "figure out" the leaking contents. It was insured as wine. I don't know if it was just due to it being liquid (like it made a big mess), or if indeed they destroy all packages that are "injured" in some way....say, a box with a rip -and a piece of clothing hanging out???They destroy the entire box? That was news to me, but now I know...they will trash the entire box.

                                                          It is not inherently "criminal" to break the rules of UPS, but I would imagine that that could be state related. Typically the "criminal" part is shipping alcohol to a minor. A big reason they have these shipping rules, is to prevent a minor from ordering alcohol and having it delivered. So, when you ship wine, they need to have an adult (over 21) signature for the wine in most states.

                                                          Many states allow you to ship alcohol to a family member (as a gift) and you can use UPS legitimately (including Texas, btw) but I think you have to get a permit first -and also check the state where you are shipping from. It really is very convoluted and a real pain. That is why if you are just shipping occasionally via UPS, many people use the "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy and don't worry about it. To each his or her own.

                                                          Unless you are trafficking illegal hooch, selling to minors, or trying to tax evade...UPS has better things to do than worry too much about this issue. I know plenty of collectors that ship via UPS all the time and I have never known anyone to catch a fine. Check out Winecommune- thousands of private collectors selling and shipping wine...very, very few have a license to do either! Clearly, looking the other is way is the norm.

                                                          It IS actually *criminal* to ship alcohol via USPS. It is a Federal offense. Very different than breaking a shipping company rule.
                                                          UPS (or Fed X) can certainly fine you if they choose. I have never known this to happen, but I am sure it has to someone. This is why I encourage people to just have your wine store ship it. Much less hassle!

                                                          1. re: sedimental
                                                            s
                                                            sedimental Aug 13, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                            This might help:

                                                            If an individual is interested in shipping wine to a friend or family member in Texas as a gift, he may do so, as long as a TABC-licensed common carrier, such as UPS, is used. If a Texas resident would like to ship wine to a friend or family member in another state, UPS can still be used, but check the receiving state's laws regarding shipping as well.

                                                            1. re: sedimental
                                                              maria lorraine Aug 13, 2012 01:25 PM

                                                              Yes, cited below earlier. Good of you (based in Europe, as it is) to pull this up.
                                                              Easier for me, as I deal with this all the time.

                                                  2. re: MelMM
                                                    s
                                                    sedimental Aug 12, 2012 01:24 PM

                                                    Yes, they still ship the same way. The difference would be the legality issues and ease of it.They already have a variety of styro and boxes that fit well together. You will need to say it is olive oil or something if they ask....because you will hear it slosh when packed, and if something happens to it, you will not be insured. Wine stores dont have those problems, but I have used UPS many times with great sucess.

                                                    I have only had one failure, but it was a spectacular one involving a case of wine for a winebid auction. My box, my packing, their Ups label. The auction estimate for me was over 20k. I discovered if there is leakage from the box, UPS will not return it to you to see if anything is save able. I can tell you that somewhere out there a UPS driver was drinking really well for weeks! I am quite sure that all 12 bottles did not break!

                                                    1. re: sedimental
                                                      m
                                                      MelMM Aug 12, 2012 02:17 PM

                                                      Thanks for the clarification. I've done a little more research, and it looks like, as you say, the difference is being above-board (if a shop ships it) or trying to fly under the radar. I think I will call a couple shops tomorrow and see if they will ship it, pack it, and what it will cost. And then weigh my options. If they have the appropriate containers on hand, saving me the trouble of ordering them, that might offset the trouble of driving to Charlotte. Being able to insure it would be really nice. I'll hazard a guess that the insurance wouldn't cover it getting cooked, but even just against breakage would be some peace of mind.

                                                      As far as putting it in a checked bag goes, I think what scares me is that if they search my bag, they might unpack the wine and not pack it back as carefully as I had packed it. I have had my checked bags searched on several occasions, so this risk feels very real to me.

                                                      1. re: MelMM
                                                        s
                                                        sedimental Aug 12, 2012 03:01 PM

                                                        Exactly. My suitcases have been completely gone through several times.
                                                        If they won't refold my clothes nicely....I bet they won't care that they repack my wine either!

                                                    2. re: MelMM
                                                      maria lorraine Aug 12, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                      Here's what the TABC website says:
                                                      "If you are an individual interested in shipping wine to a friend or family member in Texas as a gift, you may do so, as long as you use a TABC-licensed common carrier. If you live in Texas and would like to ship wine to a friend or family member in another state, you still need to use a TABC-licensed common carrier, but you may also want to check the receiving state's laws regarding shipping."

                                                      http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/laws/dire...

                                                      BTW, I'm not telling you to be mendacious, uh, but, uh, call it vinegar or balsamic or syrup or fruit juice or flavored water. Do not declare it as alcohol in any form.

                                                  3. ellaystingray Aug 12, 2012 03:00 AM

                                                    Amazingly, I've never had any problem travelling with or shipping wine. Surely the next time I do something will go wrong now. I also don't have any problem not offering extra information to FedEx or UPS about what I'm shipping.

                                                    If you can put your hands on styropacks specifically made for shipping wine, they are amazing. I've gotten numerous shipments where the box was beaten up and even corners of the styrofoam pulverized and never had a broken bottle. I've used these to check bottles (even pre 9/11 when I was moving larger quantities than could be carried on) on numerous occasions and also had success. Oh, and while heat is an issue this time of year in Texas if you ship them, the styropack does have a modicum of temperature protection.

                                                    However, I don't always travel with styropacks. So, I've had prized bottles travel back from Italy, Australia, Chile, France...in my socks. Well, in my socks in my luggage. If I were as smart as ML I would have wrapped them in plastic first but I am a bit of a gambler, especially on the way home. I find two business socks or one athletic sock to be about right. Of course, middle of the luggage and with some other garment in between each for an extra layer of protection.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ellaystingray
                                                      sunshine842 Aug 12, 2012 10:30 AM

                                                      Ella, buy a small roll of garbage bags (small size -- like a bathroom trash can or so). Put the bottles into the bags, and tape them closed. THEN the socks. THEN rolled in a sweater or sweatshirt or jeans, and packed into the middle of the bag. If you can get your hands on bubble wrap, that goes over the plastic bag in place of the socks.

                                                      We carried cases and cases of wine home that way over a spread of years, and only ever lost 2 bottles -- our bags didn't make the transfer, and when the airline delivered the bags the next day, the gorilla they'd hired to deliver the bags heaved them -- one landed upside down on the corner of a concrete step. we heard the bottles break, so while hubby berated the gorilla, I quickly unpacked -- we lost two socks (torn and irrevocably stained - of COURSE it was red), but nothing else in the entire bag, because the trash bags slowed the leakage down enough to control the damage.

                                                    2. iL Divo Aug 11, 2012 08:19 PM

                                                      I'd go to the best most reputable liquor store you know-frequent-have some clout with.
                                                      Have them ship it for you.
                                                      I'm told they have ways to do it that you don't.

                                                      1. z
                                                        zin1953 Aug 11, 2012 06:28 PM

                                                        Since 9/11, I try VERY hard NOT to travel with wine -- especially aged wine. It's a pain-in-the-a$$. For just two bottles of an older Bordeaux, I would ship -- ASAP -- in a 2-bottle styro shipper as ML has suggested to the destination (presumably to your hotel) via UPS and mark "Hold for Arrival." Of course, it's illegal to ship to Texas, but that's another whole issue . . .

                                                        OR . . . use something like:

                                                        -- http://www.amazon.com/Vinnibag-Inflatable-Travel-Wine-Bag/dp/B0041IC244

                                                        -- http://www.amazon.com/WineHug-Self-Inflating-Protective-Travel-Orange/dp/B002EC0SPO/ref=pd_bxgy_k_text_c

                                                        -- http://www.amazon.com/Wine-Skin-WineSkin-Bag-2-Pack/dp/B0033C6FOM/ref=pd_sim_la_2

                                                        -- http://www.amazon.com/Wine-Travel-Bag...

                                                        . . . .and so on and so on and so on . . . .

                                                        And pack it inside your suitcase. Problem: wine won't be ready to drink when you arrive.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: zin1953
                                                          m
                                                          MelMM Aug 11, 2012 06:39 PM

                                                          Hadn't even thought about the legality of it!

                                                          The wine will be shipped to a residence. A relative of mine. The intent here is to give someone with a serious, probably terminal, illness one last really good bottle. Arguably the best in my collection, and the best of his life. Otherwise, I wouldn't normally attempt this. This isn't a bottle I could go out and buy after I got there.

                                                          How long do you think the bottle needs to sit to recover after travel?

                                                          1. re: MelMM
                                                            z
                                                            zin1953 Aug 11, 2012 06:55 PM

                                                            Be specific. What wine? How far are you traveling? etc., etc., etc.

                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                              m
                                                              MelMM Aug 11, 2012 07:25 PM

                                                              95 Mouton-Rothschild. South Carolina to Texas. Dates are not determined yet.

                                                              1. re: MelMM
                                                                z
                                                                zin1953 Aug 12, 2012 07:27 AM

                                                                The good news in that 1995 isn't all that old, as Bordeaux goes. Your best bet is *still* to ship it in a styrofoam 2-bottle shipper. As others have suggested, pay the extra to ship it overnight. Ship it two weeks or so before your arrival, and have your friend store the package upright (unopened, unless your friend already knows what it is) until you get there.

                                                                Next best thing is to pack it inside one of those containers I linked to, or something similar, and stick it in your suitcase. Stand the bottle up as soon as you get to your destination, and don't open it until the day before you leave . . .

                                                                Your problem is that the wine *will* get "bounced around" a lot, whether it's shipped ahead, or packed in your luggage. Not the best thing for any wine, worse for an older one which, by definition, is more delicate, and (probably) has thrown some sediment. You want to give it some time to recover . . . .

                                                                I just came back from a trip to Portugal and Spain, and had 12 bottles packed that way among our four suitcases, to give various winemaker-friends of mine whom we visited and/or stayed with. (Oddly enough, I came back with more than a dozen.) No mishaps whatsoever . . . Then again, we didn't open any of the bottles I brought with me, and I've only opened two of the bottles I carried back: these were both whites, and I waited a month . . .

                                                                Cheers,
                                                                Jason

                                                          2. re: zin1953
                                                            Veggo Aug 12, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                            zin, I had several wine shipments from CA vineyards shipped UPS to TX in the last year.

                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              z
                                                              zin1953 Aug 12, 2012 07:15 AM

                                                              I admit: Things in Texas HAVE gotten better since the state Attorney General tried to seize EVERY UPS TRUCK in the state as being a part of a criminal conspiracy. (I swear this is true.)

                                                              See http://wineinstitute.shipcompliant.co...

                                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                                Veggo Aug 12, 2012 07:45 AM

                                                                I'm shaking my head in near disbelief, but Texas has some strange ways.

                                                          3. maria lorraine Aug 11, 2012 05:49 PM

                                                            For two bottles:
                                                            Ship them ahead of time, wrap them securely in a plastic bag and then roll them in your clothes and put them in your checked luggage, or use a 2- bottle styro shipper that can be checked. Once you've arrived, remove the bottles from their packaging, set them upright, and allow them to settle before drinking. I bet others have tips too.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: maria lorraine
                                                              m
                                                              MelMM Aug 11, 2012 05:53 PM

                                                              Thanks for the tips. I probably should add that my destination will be Texas, so I am concerned about the heat, on top of everything else.

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