While we’re spending Christmas day at home with family, I have two luxurious escapes from holiday chaos planned.
One was a trip we took last weekend to Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village and we depart for the second holiday getaway next week. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates as we’re scheduled to swim with pigs in the Bahamas.
Sometimes, I travel with wine which may seem odd as, of course, the luxury hotels we stay at have plenty of wine available.
It does make sense to pack a bottle on occasion. And, I do because I don’t want to miss a glass of wine at the end of a long trip or hectic holiday.
Sterling Vineyards sent me a most generous holiday inspiration kit themed around traveling home for the holidays with gear for making packing, opening, transporting, serving and enjoying wine easier while on the go.
In light of the fact that so many of us are on the move this holiday season, I thought I’d share why I sometimes do bring my own wine, how to pack it and transportation considerations.
Why Pack Your Own Wine
To enjoy the journey. Holiday travel especially can be a grind, unpredictable and delayed. Having a bottle packed is something to look forward to.
You might not want to wait. We left San Diego for our weekend in Westlake Village in the evening arriving at 9:30 p.m., past my daughter’s bedtime. I wanted a glass of wine without waiting for room service delivery and it would have been too much trouble to run down to the bar.
It’s guaranteed you’ll love it. I’m currently loving the Sterling Platinum 2012 red blend which thankfully also came in my Sterling Vineyards quarterly wine club shipment so that’s what I brought. I love their premium reds.
It can be more cost-effective. As someone who orders quite a bit of wine at hotels, I’m here to say that between markup, tax and service fees… the cost of wine can add up.
It’s a good use of extra luggage space. They’re always saying that hard-sided luggage is less likely to dent when packed full. Why not fill extra space with wine?
To share that special bottle. The holidays are as good of an occasion as any to share that bottle you’ve been saving for a special occasion no matter where you’re headed.
How to Pack Wine
A padded carrying case can safely transport bottles by car or train. The one above carries two bottles plus the wine accessories kit that I LOVE.
If simply headed from home to a nearby house party, perhaps a cold Chardonnay in an insulated bag will do (and also make a lovely hostess or holiday gift).
Don’t forget accessories. There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot a corkscrew and have a bottle of wine to tuck into. A number of hotels will have them in the minibar but there are times when none can be found. I once had to pay for a horrible plastic corkscrew in a Hilton hotel through room service. It’s best to be prepared.
A good stopper will keep an open bottle preserved for consumption the following day.
Pad Those Bottles!
Pad the bottles as well as possible, keeping them away from the sides of your suitcase to prevent impact. Wrap them in clothes and bubble wrap if not in a hard-sided case.
Speaking of hard sides, some experts recommend that if you do plan to travel frequently with wine, investing in hard-sided luggage is the way to go to lower risk of breakage.
Wine Skins are genius reusable wine transport bags. It is so easy to slip a few extra in your suitcase just in case you pick up a bottle or two during your travels… like during a weekend in Napa Valley at Sterling Vineyards.
They are supposed to keep liquid inside in case of breakage, however, you need to be diligent about sealing the bottom-up completely.
Tips for Flying with Wine
The TSA doesn’t allow alcohol to be transported in luggage that is more than 70% alcohol by volume (140 proof) and limits the amount of alcohol between 24-70% allowed to 5 liters. The good news is that wine usually falls well below 24% alcohol by volume which means there’s no limit other than allowable check-in luggage weight.
A few carriers have cool allowances. Alaska Airlines will fly home a case from Sonoma, for example, for you at no charge. But, this is rare.
You can not bring a standard bottle of wine in carry-on luggage as it will exceed the TSA’s allowance of a measly 3.4 oz. The exception is that duty-free purchases made inside the airport after the security checkpoint can be carried on the plane.
If this sounds like a fantastic reason to bring on a TSA approved corkscrew, note that it’s against FAA regulations to drink alcohol on the plane that was not served to you by a certificate holder of the plane (for all intents and purposes, the flight attendants).
If traveling internationally, know what your foreign destination allows you to bring in. And, if you’re transporting wine home from a foreign destination, you’ll need to be mindful of customs requirements (at the moment, alcohol in excess of one liter is subject to a 3% tax). Check U.S. Customs and Border Protection and TSA notes for more information.
Driving with Wine
The easiest way to travel with wine in tow is to drive. This way, you can basically take a case or two… or even more, if you like. Just be mindful an open wine bottle with a cork in it is usually considered an open container (check local laws). Put it in the trunk where it is not accessible. You’ll still want to make sure bottles are padded well and unable to fall off of backseats or slide across the trunk, in order to prevent possible breakage.
Arrive and Enjoy It
Need I say more? Go ahead and live life with luster by bringing a good bottle of wine along with you. I plan to!
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I am working in partnership with Sterling Wines and I am being compensated for my participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own. Wine is intended for those whom alcohol is legal and appropriate. Please drink responsibly!
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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