As summer is fast approaching, many of us are preparing for a week in the sun. With so many countries around the world famed for their wine, you may be looking to bring a bottle or two back to enjoy at home or give as a gift to friends or family. But with luggage handlers notorious for throwing your bags around, and customs restrictions remaining strict, you need to be properly prepared for travel with wine to avoid broken bottles leaving your light summer wear red. Our handy tips can help you steer clear of any airport mishaps.
Protecting Your Wine
As airlines have liquid restrictions in place for carry-on luggage, unless you only have a tiny 100ml bottle of wine, any bottles you bring back with you on a flight will need to be packed in your main luggage which is checked in. While you could just wrap up any bottles using your clothes, this is a bit of a risky move as luggage tends to get jostled around quite a lot once it leaves your hands, and you could end up finding yourself with a suitcase full of damp, red, wine-stained clothes once you land.
There are a number of options for properly packing your wine, depending on how many bottles you have and how often you are likely to buy lots of wine abroad. If you only plan on bringing back one or two bottles as gifts, then a simple neoprene wine sleeve is a relatively cheap and easy way to go, as this gives your wine bottles protection similar to that used for laptop sleeves. Often these are individual sleeves to fit a standard sized bottle, although they usually have a little stretch, allowing them to squeeze a Champagne bottle in. Make sure the sleeve is fully sealable, or put the bottle in a plastic bag and secure with an elastic band before putting it in a sleeve so that if the worst does happen and a bottle breaks, the rest of your belongings will remain safe and wine free. Alternatively, opt for a WineSkin, which is a bubble wrap lined, wine bottle-shaped bag for transporting bottles. They offer cheaper single-use bags or re-usable versions for only a little more.
For more frequent travelling wine fans, there are many other items to invest in. The VinniBag, for example, provides extra protection to bottles by inflating around them, forming an air cushion that keeps the wine safe from impact, and your luggage safe from any leakage. This can be a great option if you are bringing back a particularly pricey bottle that you want to give the most protection possible. For the more serious wine lovers who want to bring back as much wine as possible, dedicated wine luggage cases can be obtained. The Wine Check is a great example of this, as it is a lightweight wheeled suitcase that can safely fit and fly either 6 or 12 bottles of wine. The insulated case protects bottles by fitting them into Styrofoam or cardboard dividers and is light enough to fit a full case of 12 bottles and still be under the 50lb weight limit for luggage.
How Many Bottles Can You Bring?
The amount of wine that you can bring into the UK entirely depends on which country you are coming from. If you are travelling from an EU country, you can bring a total of 90 litres of wine through customs without question. As this is around 120 bottles of wine, it is unlikely you’ll actually even be able to carry this much! Only 60 litres of this can be sparkling wine though, so if you’re looking to bring back any more than 80 bottles of Champagne, think again!
The rules are different if you are arriving from a country outside of the EU. The limit drops down to only 4-litres, which is about five bottles of wine. If you want to bring any more bottles back with you, then any amount over 4-litres will have to be charged with Customs Duty. The rate is 2.5% for goods up to the value of £630. Depending on where you are coming from, Import VAT may also need to be paid; these will be the standard UK VAT rates.
No room in your case for the number of bottles you want to bring, or worried about getting a case through customs? If you buy your wine direct from a winery, they may be able to offer you a good shipping deal that can get your wine back home safely and hassle-free.
Once you’ve gone through all the trouble of getting your bottles home safely, it would only be right to keep them in the best condition in your own home too. If your current storage solution sees your bottles stashed away in a cupboard or under the stairs, consider upgrading to a custom wine rack or even a Liebherr wine cabinet to treat your wine how it should be!