Travel enables us to experience new locales, cultures, foods, and, of course, wines. If you have planned a trip to one of the world’s wine capitals, such as France or Italy, it would be a shame not to sample their collections of homegrown bottles. The odds are good that you will find a vintage or type that is so good that you would not want to return home without a bottle of it to enjoy with your friends. However, the real challenge does not lie in finding a wine but in packing it for the trip home.
The last thing anyone wants is for the expensive, quality bottle of foreign wine you have procured to break and spill in transit. In addition to damaging the contents of your luggage, it will waste the wine, a tragedy in itself. As a result, it becomes essential to find a way to secure the bottle within your luggage that will protect it from any rough travel. With this article, we hope to help provide some useful tips on properly packing a bottle of wine.
Secure Your Luggage’s Perimeter
Some people are unaware that the most vulnerable spot in a travel suitcase is the edge, where the fabric is at its thinnest. The closer to the center an item is in luggage, the safer it is from the outside world. So, when you are packing a bottle of wine for travel, the last place you want the bottle to end up is near the zipper.
However, given that luggage contents tend to shift around as you travel, it is not always possible to secure your bottle permanently to one location within the luggage itself. This is why securing the perimeter of the suitcase is an essential first step in packing a bottle of wine.
Given that blunt force can cause damage to anything particularly close to the edges of luggage, finding ways to absorb the shock is key to keeping your wine safe during travel. There are several simple methods you can employ for just that purpose.
Simply lining the edges of your luggage with your shoes or towels can create an effective barrier to keep your bottle of wine from rolling to the edges and becoming vulnerable to the lack of fabric to protect it. Thanks to the added density they provide, towels and shoes can both be used to absorb the impact.
The towels would need to be the larger sort traditionally used after a shower, whereas most close-toed shoes are effective by their own merit. For that reason, shoes are traditionally preferred over towels, especially since the towels might come into play later on.
Luggage was designed to transport clothing and keepsakes more so than it was designed to transport fragile bottles of wine. So, taking steps to correct certain shortcomings your luggage has is key. Keeping the edges of your luggage impact absorbent is the first step anyone transporting wine should take to protect their cargo. However, it is far from enough.
Secure the Bottle
The most important step in transporting wine is ensuring that the bottle is secured in a cushioned environment to avoid exposing it to hard surfaces during travel—otherwise, the odds of the bottle shattering mid-transit shoot up exponentially.
There are plenty of methods that have been used for decades to accomplish just that without using anything besides what you have packed. The first line of defense for your wine’s cushioning is the clothing you have packed for the trip. The simple fact is that you need to provide something soft that the bottle of wine you have can rest in.
One of the most commonly employed methods for packing wine for travel involves simply sandwiching it between articles of particularly soft clothing. Keeping the glass bottle safely packed between these kinds of clothes will help to protect it from impacts and provide some additional padding. This can also be accomplished by taking a soft piece of clothing and wrapping it around the wine bottle. The result is the same, with the wine being sheltered from potential damage.
If you prefer to avoid using your clothing for this, you could also repurpose a towel for the same goal. For example, you can use towels to wrap around the bottle as a shock absorber. However, you do not need to improvise such tools with clothing and towels if you do not want to. That said, acquiring a more appropriate tool will require a little more effort.
By stopping by a local office store, you should be able to purchase a roll of bubble wrap. Given its longstanding history as a tool for protecting fragile items for transport, it can serve your wine bottle just as effectively, especially if you follow our initial tip about lining the edges of your luggage. In addition, bubble wrap is inexpensive and highly effective in protecting fragile belongings like bottles of wine during travel. Finally, if you want additional security for your wine during the flight home, more direct tools are available for purchase.
Wine Travel Sleeves
The very conundrum of transporting wine has led to the development of products precisely to accommodate them. The most prevalent of these products are specialized wine travel sleeves designed to shield the bottle as best as possible through their very design rather than relying on a particularly soft environment. Wine travel sleeves are designed with padded walls and tight seals to protect the wine from the impacts it might endure during travel.
These sleeves vary in terms of manufacturer, material, and cost. However, they are very easy to purchase and will likely not cost you more than $60.00 at maximum. So, aiming for a product at a reasonable price will probably net you a more effective sleeve that will better protect your wine from the hazards of travel.
Just because you have your bottles in sleeves does not mean you should be setting them next to each other for the trip. If you leave two or more bottles of wine sitting next to each other in your luggage, regardless of how well packed they are, they will almost certainly collide. The constant collisions between the bottles, when unprotected, will almost certainly result in breakage mid-transit.
However, protecting them in wine sleeves will lower the odds. In addition, simply making sure your bottles are both securely packed and separated will help ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting home with your wine intact.
If you want to take the protection of your wine a little further, some additional methods can be employed.
Some potential tools are available for purchase or acquisition and use to better protect any wine you are transporting from one country to another. The main item available for purchase includes a specialized suitcase designed for the specific purpose of transporting wine.
These wine suitcases are essentially normal luggage with interior padding and slots for three to four bottles of wine. While this can be highly advantageous for the transport of wine, it does come with a significant drawback. You cannot pack anything else within it, meaning it can be a burden if you are traveling with more than just wine bottles, which is likely the case. So, committing to a wine suitcase is likely not a worthwhile purchase.
There are also more adaptable suitcases that offer greater protection without sacrificing overall space for your other possessions. Hard suitcases are becoming ever more popular due to their additional impact resistance. They are not foolproof but can offer the extra edge you will need to keep more fragile belongings like a bottle of wine safe from damage.
You would still need to follow our other packing tips to keep the bottle safe, but a reinforced bag will allow you to maximize the protection of your belongings. Hard suitcases also offer an additional level of protection since they do not deform quite as much under pressure. So, having additional bags stacked on top will not cause it to cave in on the contents.
Finally, if you want to make sure your checked luggage is handled properly to minimize the odds of human error leading to breakage. You might want to consider requesting a “fragile” sticker. These stickers inform the staff at the airport handling your bag that there are items inside that are subject to breakage if not handled with a more delicate touch.
While this does not mean you can safely stow your wine in a bag haphazardly, it will help to make sure properly packed bottles are treated with the care they deserve and help prevent you from opening your luggage to find a shattered bottle with wine all over your belongings.
Pop the Cork With Us
Transporting wine between states and countries will never be easy. The same could be said of any fragile product you might care to transport. However, it is far from impossible, as taking the proper precautions will allow you to take a fine bottle of wine anywhere you please.
Securing the bottle in a quality bag will help to offer the greatest level of protection possible for your belongings. After all, the only time a cork should be popping from a bottle of wine is when you are getting ready to serve it. Wine requires a delicate touch in both transporting and enjoying it, as blindly going into either one will more likely yield poor results.
We at the Wine Diarist have made it our mission to unite wine lovers and newcomers alike in the wondrous world of wine. It does not matter if you have been partaking for years or have only recently begun your journey into the finer parts of wine enjoyment. You are a welcome addition to our community, and we hope you feel welcome to share your experiences with your fellow connoisseurs. That is why we aim to provide as much information as possible on how to properly store, enjoy, and even transport wine so that there is no regret.
For example, have you ever been curious about how you can describe the taste of wine like an expert? If so, be sure to check out our article on the topic! In that article, you will learn about how to describe the flavors of a wine, some significant terms that you will need to be aware of, and other specific details to keep an eye out for. You can find and read that article right over here.
Or perhaps you are curious about the decanting process of wine, and how you, as a beginner, can go about the process correctly. That is another question we have answered already in an article all about the topic of decanting for beginners! In that article, you’ll learn about the types of vessels to use for decanting, how to prepare your wine for transfer to the decanter, and much more. You can begin your journey to becoming a decanting expert right here.
Or maybe you are just wondering about something as simple as what the ideal temperature is for a wine fridge. In an article that we have written on the topic, we covered everything surrounding that question. We discussed how different types of wine fridges may affect the cooling of wine, the differences in temperature needed for red and white wines, other major details you will need to consider, and, of course, the ideal temperature to store your bottles of wine at. You can find all of that information, and more, in our article over here.
We urge you to investigate our website and see what other helpful information we offer about wine that we have not yet mentioned. However, we are aware that we have yet to address every facet of wine culture and management. So, feel free to leave a comment with any questions you might have about wine, and we will do our best to answer them in our next post. Until then, we raise a toast to your health. Cheers to you!