Friday, December 25, 2015

How to transport wine internationally

In our trips to Europe and South America we always had problems bringing back home the wines. We loved tasting wine, we wanted to buy the wines we liked and take them home to have them again and again. The buying part was easy. However getting them home was always hard.

Shipping wine to the US is very expensive due to US regulations. Most companies don't allow shipping alcohols to the US. The few who do charge an arm and a leg. Shipping a bottle of wine from Italy to France is about 1 EUR, from Italy to the US about 20 EUR.

After trying multiple methods we settled on the best effort to price to time being the following :

1. Buying on Amazon wine shipping boxes:

Here is an example on of boxes of brand Lazenne. They make them for 12 or for 6 bottles.

The boxes cost 20 EUR each + about 8 EUR shipping for the order.

The box of 12 bottles full is normally below the airline's max weight for a checked luggage.

2. Taking them with us as checked luggage.

We often travel with carry-ons only and most companies will let you have 2 checked luggages each included in the plane ticket or for a modest fee.

3. When arriving in the US we declare that we have the wine with us and it is for personal consumption (which it certainly is). So far the customers officers have asked us questions to make sure we don't work in the wine industry and to make sure that it is for our own personal consumption but have not made us pay fees or taxes. However my research shows that even if we pay fees it should be at most a few dollars per bottle. Given we buy bottles in the 20 EUR + range which in the US would be 40 EUR + it is of course worth it.

Lets calculate :

To buy 4 12-bottle wine boxes on Amzon it is about 90 euros including shipping
If an airline allows you 1 piece free and charges $100 per 2nd checked luggage ( Delta for example gets you 1 luggage free and 2nd for $100 ) that is another $200 for 4 cases of 12.

Total costs for shipping : $300 roughly for 48 bottles. Or about $6 per bottle.

(If you don't pay luggage fees this could be as little as $2 per bottle.)

Compare this to the usual 20 EUR per bottle with commercial shipping options for a total of $1000 or so for the same 4 cases.

Why do we go through all this trouble ?

Because we learned and we nearly always verified that the wine you tasted and liked is worth much more then wine you buy based on the label. So while this may look expensive or hard, I would love to find another way to get 100 + bottles of wine you love, guaranteed, for $2000 or so.


Enjoy !