Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Sep 9, 2013 03:10 AM

Exploding sparkling wine bottles and jets: myth or reality?

I just returned from a two week vacation in Alsace and other places. While there, I visited a winery called "Bestheim," which is, in fact, the name of the winery, not the name of town in which it is based (which, unfortunately, I have forgotten). While there, the delightful French lady in charge of tasting, insisted that I try Bestheim's cremant.

In the course of our discussion of several cremants, I pointed out to the lady that it was no longer possible to put a bottle of sparkling wine in a carry-on bag ("No liquid over three ounces allowed!") So the wine would have to go in the checked luggage. I explained that I understood that the airlines depressurize luggage compartments partially during flights. I asked if the sparkling wine, bottled under three atmospheres of pressure, would explode when the differential between the bottle's pressure and the outside pressure became much greater.

Somewhat to my amazement, she agreed that the sparkling wine would explode in the luggage compartment. She advised against taking any sparkling wine home.

I am skeptical because I would think that there would be warnings about this all over the place, since airlines would not look kindly upon routinely transporting bombs (even little bitty baby ones) in their cargo holds. On the other hand, it makes a certain amount of sense.

So I thought that I would leave the question to the far more knowledgeable heads on this board: If I take sparkling wine back with me, will it explode in my suitcase in the cargo hold of some unsuspecting jet liner?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In a couple of decades of hauling back more sparkling beverages (Champagne, cidre, etc) we have yet to have so much as a leak.

    I suppose it *could* happen....but they ship sparkling beverages by air on a regular basis.

    1. No., it wont explode.

      I have carried methode champenoise sparkling wines transatlantic and trans-europe in checked in baggage no problem.

      Wines for trade shows and competitions are shipped by air, again no problem.

      1. If it is properly made and bottled to begin with, it shouldn't be a problem. If there is a possibility of uncontrolled refermentation in the bottle due to bad procedure, then a bottle could blow...but that can happen whether in depressurized cargo or on the shelf of your liquor cabinet or wine cellar.

        I should think that there would _very_ rarely (if ever) be any problem with commercially produced wines.

        I have heard stories of homebrewed beer not surviving the journey by air, but that is generally because homebrewers are by and large a notoriously impatient lot, often bottling their brews far too soon after initial fermentation.

        1. No. Your bottle is perfectly safe -- I've flown with sparkling wines in my luggage literally dozens of times -- as long as it's protected from being *broken* by your bag being tossed, dropped, and thrown around . . . .

          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            and *that* would be the cause of the only transatlantic casualties we've ever suffered. Lost luggage delivered the next day, hurled against a concrete step by a baggage gorilla. Two bottles, soaked into the socks.

          2. I've found bottles of sparkling wine to be perfectly safe as long as I microwave them no longer than 30 seconds.