Do you ever want to bring back wine from a trip but don’t know exactly how to get that done without breaking the bottles? Fortunately I have a tried and true method to bring back wine safely, and the preparation for it is as easy as packing your bag. The short story is that all of the articles of clothing in my suitcase exist to become wine bottle wrappers and cushions.
In my first attempt at this method I brought a couple of bottles back from a trip, wrapped them in sweaters and pants, and all was well. But my best effort came when I visited Chile a few years ago and brought back a whopping 16 bottles of wine in two suitcases. I learned one hard lesson, however, which is that you have to make sure the suitcase is packed very tightly. I ran out of clothes to fill one of the bags and in a panic I filled up the empty spaces in the suitcase with newspaper. No go. The bottles must have banged around during transit and the baggage carousel in Miami was bathed in a lovely white wine as my luggage made its way to me. On the bright side, at least the broken bottle was a white and ruined no clothing, and it was only one bottle.
So here are the packing details. Start by packing some of your clothes as a cushiony base, reserving enough sweaters, shirts, pants and jackets for later. Use your shoes to create an outside perimeter, also as a cushion. You can wrap each bottle in a plastic bag too and fasten it at the top, to hopefully contain any wine if things go badly. Only one bottle per bag though.
Then take your reserved sweaters, shirts, pants and jackets and wrap them around each bottle. You need to wrap each bottle separately, and take special care with the necks of the bottles. The neck is the most vulnerable part of the bottle so the neck needs to be especially supported. As an example, I usually use the “body” of a sweater to wrap around the bottle itself and use the sleeves to wrap around the neck. Use more than one piece of clothing if needed, to make it nice and cushiony.
As you place the bottles in the suitcase you’ll have spaces between them and you can fill the spaces in with socks, underwear and small items. You want to keep the bottles separated by a lot of padding, and very tightly packed.
Finally, take the leftover clothes and pack them on top and pack it all as tightly as you can. Did I mention to pack it tightly?
You can also ask for “Fragile” stickers at the airline counter. Hopefully your bag will get a gentler throw onto the conveyor belt up to the cargo hold.
There are also some products out there for packing bottles in suitcases. One is called JetBag, a long, padded zip lock bag. They claim the padding also absorbs the contents of a wine bottle in case things to awry. There’s also something called VinniBag, which is an inflatable bag that surrounds the bottle.
So now on your next trip you can think of your clothing selections in a whole new way, and bring home some bottles.