Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Wine Disaster While Traveling During the Holidays | Catavino
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Jose Pizzaro

Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Wine Disaster While Traveling During the Holidays

Broken BottleTraveling during the holidays is much like taking a baseball bat, beating yourself into a catatonic state, coming to, then doing it all over again. It’s a socially accepted form of masochism disguised in songs of merriment and brightly colored holiday lights. Now add a few bottles of wine to your journey, and you’ve just ensured yourself migraine to boot. Yet, despite the fact that its a guaranteed form of self abuse, we endure its prolonged suffering annually.

Why do we do this??

Simple, we love wine, wait…I mean family. Consequently, we’re willing to travel great distances, uphill, in freezing rain, with holed socks and a pig skin of wine to see them.

This year, Ryan and I agreed that presents would consist of consumables. Anything that could be shared among friends and consumed not 10 minutes after opening was quickly added to the list. From traditional holiday Spanish desserts to over 20 bottles of Iberian wine, we ensured our bags met the 80/20 rule, equaling 20% clothing and 80% wine. Now these percentages may incite panic among many of you weary travelers who abhor the 1001 ways wine can either break or make your life a living hell during travel, but rest assured, there are ways to avoid such situations.

  1. When traveling by train, make sure that your wine filled luggage is not heavier than your entire body weight, forcing you to beg on hands and knees for half the coach to help you maneuver each piece of luggage onto the top rack.
  2. If your name is called over the airport PA system for a detailed security check, prevent yourself needless headaches by considering exactly what you want to say when interrogator asks, “What specifically is in your suitcase”. May I also suggest avoiding terms such as “loads of” and “liquor”.
  3. When packing your luggage, double check that each bottle is well taped in a styrofoam container, or loads of bubble wrap, as you’ll avoid having your undergarments soaked in vintage port if your bag just “happens” to explode on a conveyor belt in Norway. Better yet, just pack the wine and forget the clothing. You can always replace your wardrobe with the “recession inspired holiday sales”.
  4. Make sure a 1/4 cava bottle is located at the top of your bag to congratulate yourself after surviving 2 bouts of your neighbor’s baby vomit on your holiday pants during the 9 hour ride over the Atlantic.
  5. Do not buy wine in a Duty free shop on the way to the states if you have to go through Amsterdam. As you need to go through security twice, you’ll find yourself playingi witness to a scene of wine destruction as it is literally dumped in front of you. The response when you ask them why they bother will be “WELL YOU DIDN’T BUY IT IN OUR AIRPORT!”
  6. Remember that the dwarf bottles of wine on the plane are not there to “pair” with airplane food, but rather to help lubricate the food-like substance offered to you as they begrudgingly makes their way down your gullet. Don’t bother worring about the vintage or grapes. Just remember that white works well with any mystery sauce, and red is for dishes that need to reconstitute themselves before digestion.
  7. At customs in the USA, remember that they are not trained wine professionals. Even if you have a rare 1945 Marques de Riscal in your luggage, the value on the customs form you fill out should read, “around 10 US dollars”. Heck, why not argue all of the wine you managed to smuggle into your checked luggage is “plonk” brought over for your mother’s vinegar jar and is really just has “a sentimental value”?
  8. Remember to pack your baby bottles of booze in a clear plastic bag in your carry-on luggage. This way, others who see you pull out the  bag at the security check point can see if anything blends well with what they have stashed and would make a tasty wine mixed drink mid-flight.
  9. Airport bars are notoriously bad at stocking wine worth drinking. Unless you fly 1st class and find yourself in a “club lounge”, stick with the cocktails. And if you want to say you’re having wine, make sure it’s got some Vermouth in it!
  10. In route to your family home in a Northern Minnesota, 3 long hours from the airport, do NOT put the wine and luggage in the unheated trunk, unless you want to find nicely shattered wine sculptures adorning your luggage.

Granted, these are merely our humble suggestions for the holidays, but we’d love to hear yours. What suggestions can you offer up as means to avoid unnecessary holiday headaches?


Gabriella Opaz

  • Patti

    If anyone knows about this topic, you and Ryan do! I will never forget your Norway arrival with your red wine soaked belongings coming down the track on everyones luggage! Funniest story I ever read! Can’t wait for you to make that long 6 hour trip to MN and spending a week with you and your significant other..

  • Bill

    I loved #6. From another Minnesotan looking forward to seeing you two!

  • #2 – bottle collection! check!
    #5 – I prefer other things to wine when in Amsterdam!
    #6 – down the hatch! check!
    #10 – reasons for not getting back to Ottawa for Xmas in 13 yrs! check!

    Have a great time with your family and friends 🙂 Check!

  • sorry in advance for tutting my horn so brazenly here in this comment…

    we have created a product exactly for that. our wine travel bag is made from environementaly friendly materials. for maximum bottle protection, it can be inflated easily as you would any beach ball and it is 100% hermetic thanks to its “zip-lock” technology.

    and it works! last time i tavelled from napa back to hong kong where i lived, i had 8 bottles in my suitcase, each packed inside our travel bag and all came back in pristine condition.

    i have sent you 2 complimentary bags by post and you should have them in your mail box when you return home in january.

    all the best!

  • Everytime I go back home to California and open up my cement brick of a suitcase my mum always says “we have wine here too, you know!”

  • Andrea

    Love it 🙂 Especially the one in Norway hahaha, the same thing happened to me when getting my luggage in Philly after coming back the last time!

    Will be planning and packing accordingly now for my 8hr flight back to the US, keeping my fingers crossed everything arrives in one piece for once!

  • You will not be surprised to learn that Heathrow does the 'you didn't buy it here' (number 6) trick too. I ready they were going to stop, at least for intra-European flights, but a couple of friends were caught at the end of last year.