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Bringing Champagne Home?

Hi,

We are planning a trip to France near the end of the year and plan to spend a day in Reims. My wife wants to visit a couple of the champagne wineries there. This weekend, she saw a small suitcase that is made to carry up to 10 wine bottles and keep them separated. What do we need to know about bringing home champagne to the USA? Are there limits? Are there any taxes, import fees, restrictions, etc.? Is it easier to just have them shipped home (I'm thinking maybe so)?

Thanks

Posted by
8582 posts

Carson, you can bring as many bottles as you want, you just have to declare it at customs and on the forms and be prepared to pay the entry duty for the amount over your one liter per person duty-free allowance. The duty is not much on wine, so no point in trying to evade customs.

Shipping is likely more than the fee for checking a bag (you can't carry on liquids with you). But worth checking. What you might note.however, is how many of those wineries you can already buy in the US at decent wine shops. The major brands for certain.

Posted by
4516 posts

I'm with Stan, we live in a global economy where just about anyone can get just about anything. It's more than likely that you can somehow find any of those brands either nearby or within easy shipment once you're home.

Posted by
149 posts

Shipped a case from Italy (reds rather than champagne) for roughly €120 - it took a while but made it totally fine. Many of the smaller and less famous wineries don’t have broad distribution to the US so it is a fun thing to get some unique bottles.

Another idea, if you’re only visiting 2 wineries, would be for the winery to ship directly to your house. That saves you the trouble of hauling the suitcase or arranging your own shipping. As I recall ordering 6 bottles was a reasonably good breakeven for shipping, at least from Italian wineries.

If you go down the suitcase route I’d make sure that suitcase can properly fit champagne bottles.

Posted by
848 posts

From what we were told, the wineries cannot ship directly to your house, they must have a distributor in the US and the wine goes through the distributor then to you. Some of the smaller wineries do not have a distributor in the US. Most of our group bought a few bottles and put them in their suitcase. We have mailed wine home from Italy and Portugal. The more wine you ship, the more the cost. Shipping on 6 bottles of Port from Portugal was 125 euros and took about 8 weeks FedEx.

https://it.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/rome/sections-offices/foreign-agricultural-service/bringingsending-food-alcohol-u-s/

Posted by
5886 posts

Many wineries sell only in Europe. Many do not ship. But, I don't go to the big, fancy wineries. I tend towards small, family owned, wineries. I don't shop much in terms of souvenirs. I do often bring home wine, olive oil, cheese, coffee, any food that is unique and won't perish. The wine I buy is generally inexpensive. I'm not going to take a chance with an expensive bottle. That, said, I've purchased some really inexpensive, enjoyable wine in Europe (Portugal, Spain, Vouvray, France)

Technically, I believe each person can bring back a liter of wine which is a 1.5 bottles. I often have brought back as much as 8 bottles between the two of us. When I'm asked about my purchases at customs, I say, "souvenir books, dish towels, olive oil, some wine. . ." They have never asked how much. If they did, I'd be truthful. I believe it is about 5% of purchase price (save your receipts) Honestly, I don't think its worth their time.

I'm careful about when I buy wine on a trip. I don't want to carry around a bunch of wine for a whole trip if we are using trains.

I love the bubble wrap/velcro bags I get on Amazon. We also have wrapped wine in our laundry. I do try to slip it in a plastic bag when I have them. Ours is in the center of our soft side luggage, never have had a problem.

I've never brought back champagne, however, my kids have traveled with champagne and more often beer (which is carbonated). They haven't had a problem.

Posted by
4516 posts

I would hate to have my luggage near a suitcase containing wine ...

Posted by
530 posts

Make it easier on yourself and have the winery ship it for you. If you're buying that much, the winery will work to accommodate you, particularly if they're attracting international visitors. If they can't/won't, they should at least be able to direct you to a shop who's business is shipping wine.

Secondarily, check with US CBP on the regs.

Posted by
5886 posts

There are lots of things I wouldn't want my luggage next too, the least of which is wine.

Posted by
106 posts

Late to the thread as usual. Of course you have to decide for yourself, but I have packed up to eight bottles of alcohol, 4 of which were champagne, in my luggage using bubble wrap and plastic bags. (I use wine bags now.) I basically said what jules m said - souvenirs, candy, Christmas ornaments, some wine. They just waived me along.