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Shipping & Carrying Wine Back Home

Ever since the ban of liquids on flights, many visitors aren't sure how to get their wine home. Here are several points to consider.

  • First, check to see if you can buy the wine at home for less money. Chilean wines are often cheaper in the U.S., for instance, as the VAT (sales) and alcohol tax exceeds 35% in Chile. Generally speaking, though, you won't find boutique gems outside of Chile.
  • Shipping wine is expensive: around $250 (£160) per 12-bottle case. Most wineries that ship abroad by air use Hot Express (tel. 2/687-3410; www.hotexpress.cl), who are experts in shipping wine and have special wine cases fitted with Styrofoam to protect bottles, which you can pick up at their office or coordinate to have dropped off at your hotel. Plan ahead at least 2 or 3 days.
  • Despite the myth, corks do not explode, and bottles will not break if some care and common sense are taken when packing. If you can't get your hands on a Hot Express Styrofoam case, any sturdy 12-bottle cardboard wine case will do. Pack each bottle firmly in bubble wrap (or your underwear and socks) and place in the case so that they don't move. For 6 bottles in a 12-bottle case, for example, stagger the bottles so there's an open place between them so they don't bang against each other. Close and reinforce with packing tape. Put your name, address, and a "fragile" label on the box. You can shrink-wrap your box at the airport if it gives you peace of mind. Check the box as a normal piece of luggage.
  • While you may be able to get wine out of Chile, make sure you can get it into your home. In the U.S., some states like Pennsylvania and Arizona have stringent alcohol laws. In some cases you will have to pay duty, and in some states your wine may be confiscated. U.K. residents can take home a maximum of 4 liters of still table wine (per adult) without paying customs duty. New Zealand residents can enter with 4.5 liters of wine, while Australian residents are limited to 2.25 liters of duty-free alcohol total. Canadian travelers may return from Chile with just 1.5 liters of wine, or 1.14 liters of liquor, or 24 12-ounce cans or bottles of beer or ale, including beer coolers over 0.5% alcohol. For updated information, check your home country's customs regulations before you travel.
  • Once your wine is safe in your home, you'll need a couple of weeks to let it rest. Wine gets "stressed" when traveling, and it can actually taste off if you don't give it time to let the molecules settle.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.