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Snooth User: dmcker

How to transport wine internationally?

Posted by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Hey there all, am new to this forum. Have enjoyed the range of topics I've browsed, especially the most recent thread I was viewing with such solutions to disposal of nasty wines as into the vinegar cask, refilling/recorking/recapping and gifting, and making a tempranillo shake by using its bottle like a cocktail mixer. Definitely some creative people in this group! ;-)

Anyway, I have a question that's troubling me at the moment. I've lived in Japan for several years, and, pre-9/11, used to whenever possible carry on a case or more of locally purchased wine on frequent commercial flights back from California or France or just about anywhere else with good wine. Obviously not a solution these days. I'm aware of some vendor shipping options for new wine purchases, and have also seen a duraluminum case that Dean and Deluca markets for carrying up to 9 bottles of wine, which they claim is fine for check-in.

Does anyone have any pertinent experience or knowledge that would be helpful? I have a few cases stored in California that I want to gradually move over here. Then there's the '59 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion that I want to gift from here to someone born that year over in Moscow.... Oh, and I've already heard the suggestion to charter a jet, but at $10,000 a flight hour... ;-(

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Replies

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 12, 2009.

Putting it in your checked luggage is a good solution, so long as there aren't prohibitive customs, fees or import duties in the country that you are heading to (Japan?).

Another, more expensive solution, and it might be worth it if your wines are as valuable as that 1959, is to find an importer and exporter who handles the shipment of these wines when they are bought at auction. There must be a rather substantial amount of wine purchased by Japanese individuals in the now $150 million US wine auction market. They would be able to provide perfect storage and transport conditions for your wine.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Thanks for the quick response, RBoulanger.

I have put a bottle or two in my check-in during recent trips. Always feel a bit nervous about it since I don't really want red wine on my clothing, in the event of breakage or even seepage. I'm never entirely sure whether the baggage compartments are fully pressurized, either. And encasing the bottles in styrofoam packs means I have to drastically limit whatever else goes into the same suitcase. Thus I look back fondly on the pre-9/11 days when I could just carry on a case of wine into the passenger cabin. That wine case advertised by Dean and Deluca at
http://www.iwawine.com/orstore/Show...
looks useful for single bottles, but not for magnums, and has to be arranged ahead of time.

Thus, I was wondering if anyone had any other ideas?

Can you direct me to any specialty shippers? That '59 is only a single bottle that I want to get from Tokyo to Moscow, either while flying commercial or by shipping it--hopefully without damaging it, and without having to take out a mortgage just to do so... ;-(

Cheers

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 12, 2009.

No ideas on the specialty shippers. Try a little Googling.

As for the cases, yes these are quite good. They are widely used in the trade and also by individuals transporting expensive bottles in Asia.
http://portlandwinegear.com/product...
http://www.winekaddy.com/
I believe the 9 bottle is the largest you really want to go in terms of dimensions and ease of carrying.

A final inexpensive solution it to forget about the styrofoam in your suitcase and use a Wine Mummy:
http://www.winemummy.com/index.php

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Thanks again, RB. Any ideas on moving magnums?

And if anyone else has any realworld experience with specific shippers, that'd be great to know. I've already begun a virtual search for options...

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 12, 2009.

There must be a magnum solition out there.

I came across this:
http://frequentflyer.oag.com/storie...

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Thanks once again.

This is the only thing I've found for magnums so far:
http://www.winecruzer.com/5pack-mag...
Think the winecruzer ad people got a little hung up on their James Bondish imagery, though... ;-)

The shipping agents option is turning out to be a bit more problematic. FedEx doesn't like Russia and were even talking about licenses in the private gift context, and I'm wary of forwarders who I don't know have done reliable wine shipping in small lots. Obviously my concerns are different than for commercial shippers. That '59 gets damaged and there is no recourse or remedy. Sure wish I knew someone with a private jet I could hitch a ride with. That's undoubtedly more realistic than hoping for a return to more friendly commercial carrier policies...

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Thanks for another interesting link.

Did find this for magnums:
http://www.winecruzer.com/5pack-mag...
though the winecruzer ad folks seems a bit James Bond-fixated on their home page... ;-)

The shipping agent issue is a bit more problematic. FedEx is big into international wine shipping these days, but it seems they don't like Russia, and there was even mention of the need for a 'license' though I was only concerned with the private gifting context. I'm nervous about trying mainstream shipping operations (like Nittsu and Yamato) over here without hearing about realworld experience with (very) small-lot shipments. Unlike a commercial operation I have no recourse or remedy if they damage that single bottle.

Find myself wishing I knew someone who flew private jets regularly between here and Russia (private jets are rare in Japan, though that looks to change over the next several years). Unrealistic as that is, it's more practical then expecting commercial carriers to revert to gentler practices regarding carry-on baggage...

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2009.

Over the last hour or so I've typed in, and approved in the second stage of the process, a couple of similar messages in response to the last by RB. Neither of my messages have appeared on my screen as having gone through, however. If they're both showing up to you guys, I apologize.

What's the procedure for contacting the webmaster on this site with technical problems?

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Reply by Greg Roberts, Mar 13, 2009.

In my experience traveling between French and the US, I have not had any problems simply packing a case of wine in a secure box and checking it as baggage. This way you don't have to transport an empty container on one leg of the trip.

Many of the wine stores in Bordeaux for example will ship wine back to the US through their customs broker but it's very expensive.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 13, 2009.

But doesn't everyone who uses a a winecruzer to transport their precious magnums also drive an Aston Martin?

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 14, 2009.

Yeah RB, not to mention the private jet, too. Assume that has to be at least a Gulfstream V ;-)

Greg, what do you mean by a 'secure box'? The cardboard casing, or something else? Many wine merchants in the States, Italy and Spain will do the same. Depending on what you are purchasing (and its rarity value in a place like Japan), the price may not end up seeming all that exorbitant, though it certainly would be for 'everyday' bottles. In either case I liked being able in the past to transport the bottles myself during the final leg of whatever trip I was on. Thanks to both of you for helping me with some solutions under current circumstances.

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Reply by MTB, Mar 14, 2009.

I spent about 5 years traveling a lot for work and brought back lots of wine in my checked luggage. I never had any problems with breakage or seepage. I recommend packing some plastic grocery bags with you, and then wrap the wine in the plastic bag and then roll it into clothes and pack it. It's worked great. As for how much you can bring back, I have never had an issue with customs - when I came back from Australia, I had probably 8 bottles in my bag, all of which I listed on my custom form and they didn't bat an eye.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 14, 2009.

Have done as you describe, MTB, on several occasions, most recently this past December. Don't ever like doing so for reasons described at top, but mostly because it takes up too much space. The styrofoam packs have worked great, and had the wine at the exact temperature they were when packed, even in mid-summer. Just plain bulky, though, so have only used them sparingly. The Wine Mummy that RB describes looks like a fine alternative when stowing in main luggage.

I've brought many bottles (high hundreds?) over the years to Japan stowed sometimes in check-in but mostly in carry-on. Have had no problems with breakage (though my sister did when bringing me a check-in case from Napa via LAX for my wedding), but had seepage happen three times. All were in check-in, and were magnums ('82 Cakebread Cab and '97 Swanson Merlot in summer and '99 Neyers Syrah in winter) direct from the vintners via SFO. Leaked under the cap all the way down onto the label. No damage to clothing, because of my use of plastic bagging. Fortunately the wine was fine, even when consumed years later after storage in a cellar in Tokyo. Another check-in magnum had a fairly immediate and unseemly drop of the cork several millimeters down into the neck (Chalone '01 Chardonnay). Didn't know in that case if pressurization issues were the cause, or something else. The seepage and droppage did force me to drink the wine earlier than I might have chosen to otherwise.

Am curious why the problems have all been with magnums...

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 14, 2009.

Oh yeah, and in the way of further trivia, Japan lets you bring in 3 bottles gratis. Beyond that it's a 500 yen (roughly $5) per duty, regardless of the type of bottle, last I checked. They like it when you queue up in the 'items to declare' line. Have never had any baggage opened when doing so...

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Reply by winewarrior, Dec 1, 2009.

I travel back and forth between the United States and Australia every 4 months and always bring back a few bottles of wine in my checked luggage. I use Wine Mummy. They are $4.95 for a single bag, or cheaper if you buy a packs. There's a list of retail stores where you can buy them on the web site or just purchase online at http://www.winemummy.com.

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Reply by chadrich, Dec 2, 2009.

Similar to Wine Mummy is the recently introduced Wine Diaper. I like the thought of it a bit better as it has absorption capabilities in addition to the sealed pouch. Price is comparable. Haven't used it but based on past in-luggage breakage, I see it in my future.

http://winediaper.com

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Reply by Rfrainey, Dec 2, 2009.

Some airlines have restrictions on shipping boxes! My solution is to create a wine suitcase. I have brought back 2 cases on multiple occasions. never a duty.

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/instr...

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Reply by wine not 292929, Dec 22, 2010.

There are suit cases that are specifically designed for carrying wine. Check out lots of wine luggage and wine carriers.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 23, 2010.

The first three pages didn't really have anything that looked checkinable.

Are you affiliated with the vendor (WineVineImports)?

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Reply by Jaime Miranda, Jul 28, 2012.

Dear DMCKER,

Did you find a wine carrier that suit your travel pattern? I am in the same situation now, and asking the very same question you had 3.5 years ago.

Many thanks in advance for your (and others) advice.

Jaime

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