Travel tip: how to safely pack wine in your luggage

By John Walton, January 2 2014
Travel tip: how to safely pack wine in your luggage

One of the many joys of travel is the opportunity to sample new wines and bring back some bottles of the best for yourself or friends.

We've been known to pick up a top bottle of Argentinian Malbec or French Côtes du Rhone while on a business trip, and after much trial and error (especially error) we've learned the best ways to pack wine in your luggage.

First things first: don't try to carry it on the plane with you.

Frequent flyers will consider this to be a large glass of Bleeding Obvious 2006, but it's easy for first-time travellers to overlook this, and end up leaving their Chateau Lafitte for the airport's security people to drink.

And remember, if you're making flight connections where you leave the "airside" (post-security) part of an airport and re-enter it for your next flight, you won't even be able to bring duty-free wine through with you when you're re-screened. (This happens, for example, when you connect from an international flight to a domestic flight at many airports.)

Once you've decided to put wine in your luggage, there are two key things to consider: cushion the wine from the none-too-careful handling by bag handlers, and contain it in case the cushioning doesn't work and a bottle breaks.

For both, consider a special padded wine bottle-shaped wrapper, like the Wineskin (other brands are available at many wineries and online). It's essentially thick bubble-wrap with a mostly leakproof seal at the bottom end of the bottle, and we've seen them on sale at wineries for anywhere from A$5-20. 

That isn't too much to shell out if your bottle is worth a couple of hundred dollars. Once you've got the bottle in the sealed wineskin, pack it in the middle of your suitcase.

When reusing a wineskin, our top tip is to seal it with duct tape rather than relying on the original adhesive, which doesn't form as strong a seal the second time.

If you don't have a wineskin handy, your best bet is to first seal it in plastic (a couple of layers of hotel laundry bag and some duct tape from the maintenance department can work well here) and then wrap it in soft material. 

When carrying red wine, avoid wrapping it in clothes that you'd mind turning a lovely shade of Burgundy. And if you can, put all the clothes that you really care about in another suitcase or your carry-on.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Apr 2011

Total posts 21

I would recommend

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2012

Total posts 1

Some discount type outlets sell lightweight polystyrene wine tube racks, generally a set of 6 stuck together. Get a stanley knife and cut these into individual tubes and slip the bottle in. Snug fit & the styrene is extra protection when in the suitcase .

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 742

Honestly, I've travelled with wine a bunch of times, and I just stick it somewhere in the middle of my suitcase, surrounded by clothes. I've never had a breakage.

Breaking a full wine bottle is actually really hard. Once it's surrounded by clothes it's pretty difficult to see how you could break it even if you really tried.

15 Aug 2011

Total posts 33

Great tips John thank you so much as I like to take wines for my friends when I travel as a thank you presents;-)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 1

I purchased a few Wineskins from United Cellars (google) for $5 each (and no doubt minor shipment cost). Have used several times - very effective. Have not used duck tape yet, but can see a future need. Recommend - although be aware you may end up on the United Cellars sales call list as they also sell a range of good wines it appears.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2013

Total posts 12

It's worth noting that champagne bottles are heavier and thicker than normal wine bottles, so are a little more durable when travelling. I've taken a small box (6 bottles) of champagne as longhaul luggage (MEL-LHR) several times without incident.

I tend to go with a wine box, so I can carry a total of 15 bottles as a separate item of luggage. Polystyrene inner, cardboard outer. You can get quite heavily protected ones which hold the bottles in place, but I've had no trouble with mine (only 15mm thick polystyrene). If you are transiting hot locations (eg DXB), try to avoid changing planes - that way your wine will stay onboard rather than out in direct heat.

If you have the luggage allowance, you may as well use it - 15 wine bottles are just under 23kg. Depending on your destination, customs duties may (or may not) be an issue; in my experience, most of the time it's not worth them doing the paperwork for a case of wine.

07 Apr 2014

Total posts 1

Sudden temperature changes are probably another thing to worry about, i'd imagine it would be close to freezing at crusing altitude.
I use something like this, i keep such boxes in my garage when i buy wine.

17 Jul 2018

Total posts 1

I hate using plastic and polystyrene so most of these alternatives are really not an option for me or the environment caring wine lover.

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