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How to bring home French wine?

What is the best way to buy/bring home wine from France these days? Does the U.S. Customs limits of 750 ml/person apply for luggage/customs? Would you pack bottles in checked luggage? Can you buy and ship some home? In the past we've had family bring home lovely French wines but I'm not sure how we would do it now. I'd like to buy some for gifts and for the holidays to remember out trip. Just not sure how to do it!! :)

Posted by
16730 posts

We always bring 4 to 6 bottles. Wrap in bubblewrap just to be sure and then in a plastic bag, then pack amid dirty clothes. Never had a problem and just showed it on our declaration card. Make sure it doesn't make bags overweight.

Posted by
2564 posts

In the new global economy we live in, almost every winery or wine shop can easily ship your wine for you. But check the cost carefully, since you can likely find a similar wine down the street at your local bodega these days as well.

Posted by
62 posts

I brought home several bottles last year. Just told them at customs that I had a few bottles of wine in my luggage. They waved me through. Although I wasn't over the limit so perhaps I didn't have a guilty look :) For purposes of packing I ordered these bags called "wine diapers" on line that are padded plastic bags that zip lock and that claim they can absorb an entire 750 ml bottle of wine if it breaks. No breaks so I don't know if they work or not (the absorption part that is - clearly they work in terms of padding since all of my wine came through un-scathed). But they are re-usable, and I'm taking them back to Europe with me this summer!

Posted by
6617 posts

Its not a limit of 750 ml/person, its one liter per person allowed without paying customs. You can bring back as much as you want as long as you're prepared to pay the duty on them. We use Wineskins to bring back a bottle or two, but must go in your checked luggage.

Posted by
796 posts

We just have the store ship it. I wouldn't want to be stuck lugging it home.

Posted by
724 posts

We just returned from Europe and brought back the allowed 1 L wine pp (without paying duty). I didn't have any fancy transport containers as I fully expected to have the wine drunk before arriving home ;)

I did bring several large zip lock baggies so I placed each bottle in its own baggie, put it in a sock, then packed amongst our dirty clothes in the checked luggage. I also brought back a bottle of olive oil and pesto from the Cinque Terre and packed them in a similar fashion......all made the trip unscathed.

I wish we had purchased more! I would probably have had the store pack the wine and ship it home had I done so. I'm thirsty already.

Posted by
193 posts

Thanks for all the tips! I wish there was a 'Like' button for each of these! :). And how could I forget about olive oil?? I really need to pack light so I can bring home the good stuff!!

Posted by
62 posts

Thanks for the reminder on the limit - I just knew that we were 4 people with 4 bottles and so were within the limit for not paying duty. And I had a couple of extra wine diapers that I used for french mustard - it came through just fine as well. And I've also used the dirty laundry trick as well. The only time I've ever had any liquid break in my luggage was one time when I was bringing back little souvenir bottles of limoncello that were packaged in little bags where there were 2 bottles together - I didn't think about the 2 bottles banging together and so had some limoncello on my dirty laundry - luckily it was only about 3 ounces!! Have fun - we leave for France in less than 3 weeks so I'll be toting my wine diapers back!!

Posted by
193 posts

And now I have to add French mustard to my list :). I have a question about the limoncello - is that a sipping liquor or do you mix it in something? My parents brought us back a pretty little bottle of it - but we weren't sure exactly what is was - all the info is in Italian ;)

Posted by
855 posts

We keep our limoncello in the freezer, pour it in shot glasses and sip on it after a nice dinner. Makes us miss Italy even more. By the way, you can buy it here in the US.

Posted by
4534 posts

Sip limoncello straight or over ice.

The 1 L limit is technically duty free; the reality is that very rarely will customs require a duty for amounts over a liter and the charge is very minimal anyway (which is why it's not worth it to them to charge you). Just always declare it or you give them grounds to confiscate it. So bring as many as you can fit in your CHECKED luggage.

One note on shipping wine: you MUST check your own state's liquor laws. Some do not allow you to ship alcohol privately. Try and ship it to one of those states and it may not ever make it to you. Don't expect the winery to know.

And while not as romantic as drinking from a bottle you brought home yourself, you can get just about any French wine in the US. Write down the labels you like and be sure to note the region it came from (French wine is labeled by region, rarely grape). Even if you don't find that same exact vineyard or year, you can find something very similar.

Posted by
16730 posts

Careful with the olive oil. Wine bottles are quite sturdy. Olive oil bottles, not so much, as I have learned to my grief.

Posted by
2564 posts

and PLEASE be considerate if you're packing liquids and pack them well enough to survive the zombie apocalypse. Because if your bag is near my bag and your bag leaks, I will be very, very unhappy. Along with several other folks nearby.

Posted by
5842 posts

I will reiterate several of Douglas's points. For bringing back alcohol, while the US customs services state a duty free limit, it is not your limit for bringing back wine or other beverages. For the typical person bringing back booze for personal use, there is no limit. Yes, you may need to pay duty (~10% of cost~), but I have never heard of anyone needing to pay, it is just not worth the effort and time for CBP to collect. Definitely declare it..though now, more and more, it is done at a kiosk as opposed to a paper slip.

Definitely it must be packed in Checked bags, pack it well, I wrap in dirty clothes, have a method, never lost a bottle in many trips. Typical bag to check, you can pack 6 bottles of wine or liquor, or maybe 12 bottles of beer and stay under 50 lbs.

Shipping is a whole different game, know your State's laws, be prepared to pay a premium, and wait an extended time to see if you receive it.

Posted by
2564 posts

Back in the '70s I flew to California for a trip and "smuggled" back a six pack of Coors, since at that time you couldn't get it east of the Rockies. And now it's everywhere.

Posted by
193 posts

Poured a little Limoncello over ice and tried it out. Wow!! Strong stuff!! ;)

Posted by
10344 posts

Don't bring home French wine, drink it there.

Posted by
2564 posts

my local supermarket (Ralphs, owned I believe by Kroger) has quite a good selection of French wine, as would a Total Wines or Bevmo. It's just not that hard to find here in the Big PX.