Does anyone know of the Italian and American rules about taking wine back to the states? Also what about food, cheese, etc.? Thanks
Check the US customs website - there's a brochure on http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/. I know when I went last year the cheese/food was ok only if it is specially packaged (vacuum sealed) and even then I think they swiped it from some people. Frankly, unless the wine/food has special meaning to you (like you drank it at your Italian wedding) you can buy it here for less than the hassle factor of trying to get it home without mishap. Also, you probably can't bring the wine as carry on unless you buy it after customs since it's liquid.
I live in Australia and can't comment on the US rules but our experience is that any liquids etc must be bought after security at the airport and the sales assistant must seal the bottle in the bag with the receipt to prove that is where you bought it. That was allowed through at Melbourne airport. I didn't chance it but my brother did and had no problems. As far as food generally anything with raw egg in it is banned here. I'm sure there is a US government travel website with a section on quarantine where you could find this out.
The custom website and download is a nightmare...but from what I understand is that you should not have a problem within the European Union but once you cross over to the States you'll probably lose the food...I know that USFDA has a BUNCH of restrictions on food products entering the US....I agree with the other comments...you can find most of the items you would purchase at fine food stores in the US and online...and save yourself the worry and the hassle.
I brought six bottles of wine back from Rome last witner and had no problem. They were stowed away in my suitcase. I simply wrapped them in clothing so that they would not break. I then had to declare the total value of the wine upon entering the states. There were no questions asked whatsoever as I went through customs. I disagree with others comments about being able to find wine here. Sure, you may be able to find it online, but there are many great, lesser-known wines that you can buy over there that you would have time finding here. Also, I paid 20 Euros for a bottle of Ruffino Chianti Gold label in Rome, whereas I would have paid around $55 here in the states. I also brought a lot of chocolate back from Rome.
Here's the deal on wine. If you purchase wine prior to coming to the airport, you will have to put it in your checked bag. Of course, it might break. But if you wrap it securely, it should be okay. You can't take wine through the security check-point unless it is less than 100ml or 3.4oz. What would be the point of that?
If you purchase wine at the airport at the duty-free shop inside security, you can take it on the plane with you. But if you have to connect in the States, you will have to put the wine in your checked bag after you clear customs. If you have a non-stop flight, you're okay.
You can bring one liter of alcohol per person. One standard size bottle of wine is .75 liters. We've brought more than the limit, disclosed it, and not had to pay. I would advise full disclosure!
There are actually two questions being asked here: the rules regarding what is allowed on airplanes, and what one can expect at US Customs when reentering the country. We've traveled back from France three of the last four years and once from Australia and it's all the same. Don't carry liquids onto the plane. Pack your wine into your checked luggage. Make use of the cardboard containers in which the wine is often sold, keep it in the center of the suitcase, pack your dirty clothes around it. Keep all the bottles separate..no glass touching. Don't exceed 70 pounds per suitcase or whatever your airline allows. State the truth at Customs: "I have 22 bottles of wine valued at $500." Despite the 1 liter limitation and other customs rules, I have never been asked by US Customs to fork over the add'l 3% or whatever they are supposed to charge. We have hauled much, much wine back to the US this way. And it's absolutely untrue that I would encounter these wines in any US wine shop.