Taking Wine Home In A High Security World

Some aspects of the wine-lover’s life can be downright daunting. Let’s see if this has happened to you: You’re up in Wine Country, having the tasting of your life. And you’re thinking of flying home with a few bottles. But wait, you say…what about all those TSA security rules. You know – you cannot board the plane with any liquid container larger than 3 ounces…unless its medicine or mother’s milk. Doesn’t leave much room for wine, does it? So you drop the idea and trudge out of the tasting room empty-handed.

That’s been happening a lot…so much so, that sales have reportedly plunged at various wine tasting rooms, which can be devastating since some wineries depend on these sales for up to half their profits!

What you need to know – is this: You can put as much wine as your heart desires onto a jetliner. So long as it’s in Checked baggage. No carry-on…all the wine you want in cargo.

United Airline’s own website, for example, says there’s “No Limit” on the amount of wine they accept. Continental and other airlines have the same policy.

But caution: if you’re planning to cross a State Line to haul your liquid loot home, whether by car or plane, keep in mind that some states may bar you from bringing in out-of-state wines. Texas, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington and many more have waged some form of interstate wine wars over the years, leading to court fights and confusion. So check the local rules with the state ABC to avoid trouble.

Meantime, here’s a website that may clear up this mess. It’s a UPS page that clearly shows which states allow which other states’ wines in….whether you fly it, drive it or ship it. It’s designed to tell you where UPS will fly wines, but the very same list applies to what you can personally import state-to-state by yourself. This website address is rather long, however, so just go to Grape Encounters.com, click to State-to-State Wine Shipping and we’ll link you up to this valuable resource.

Now, what if you’re wine shopping overseas? A quick note: don’t try to mail your wine back to America – that’s against the rules. And no, you cannot ship alcohol  internationally. Here’s how you can get foreign wines home. US Customs says there is no limit to how much wine you can personally bring in…but…only the first bottle is duty-free. After that, the Feds impose a 3 percent duty and a 40 cent tax per additional bottle. Some savvy wine travelers claim that some Customs folks ignore the surcharges, because they’re so low, it’s not worth the time or the paperwork! You probably don’t want to count on that…so, declare everything, and maybe you’ll get lucky.

A couple of more helpful tidbits: In addition to US laws, the laws of the State where your return flight touches down, also govern the amount of wine you can bring in and how it’s taxed…so before you depart, you should contact the state’s beverage control board to get the score.

And – just like domestically– while you cannot carry a single bottle of wine onto the USA-bound jetliner, you can put lots of wine into your check-in luggage and wing it on home.

There…hope we’ve helped pop the top…on the traveling