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Fine dining, beautiful wine pairings, after-dinner digestifs; touring abroad you’ll be introduced to some of the finest wines and spirits in the world. After sampling and enjoying, you’ll more than likely want to bring home your favorites. From deep Tuscan red, fruity South African Pinotage, and flirty French Rosé, it’s true that certain bottles of wine simply can’t be found in America. The same is true for delicious and often rare spirits you’ll taste in other countries. Grappa brandy from Italy, Nihonshu wine from Japan, Peruvian Pisco brandy, and other exotic spirits will leave you wanting more.
We can think of nothing better than sharing your experiences with friends and family over a lovely meal paired with one of the bottles you’ve discovered. Bringing home wine and spirits, and enjoying it in your own home, can help the memories of your trip linger a bit longer. To help make the process a bit easier, we’ve put together everything you’ll need to know about bringing your exceptional finds home.
According to U.S. Customs law, travelers over 21 are allowed to bring one liter of any type of alcohol (except for absinthe) into the country without duty. Keep in mind, travelers can’t transport bottles with more than 70 percent alcohol content and can only take five liters of alcohol between 24 and 70 percent. Fortunately, wine mostly falls under 24 percent, so you can bring home as many bottles as you want. To keep your finds duty-free, and perhaps bring home more than the one liter allowed, try these tips we’ve collected for you:
Divide and conquer: Liquids aren’t allowed onto flights in carry-ons; they must be packed in checked luggage, so make the most of the space you have. If you’re traveling with your spouse, friends, or other companions, separating the bottles into each individual’s checked luggage minimizes U.S. federal excise taxation upon arrival, as each person’s bag is considered their separate property.
After discounting one bottle from each person’s baggage, every liter will be taxed at your port of entry, usually at three percent. However, if your foreign finds, including other products and souvenirs, are valued under $800, it’s not uncommon for customs officials to overlook several bottles of wine and decline taxation entirely. This isn’t always the case, so be prepared to be taxed on each additional liter.
It may help to know that there isn’t a federal limit on how much alcohol you can bring home as long as you pay tax on it. However, entering the U.S. with exorbitant amounts of alcohol could raise red flags at customs. If you’ve packed too much, agents could become suspicious that you’re doing so for commercial purposes without a permit. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 12 bottles per traveler.
To keep your bottles safe in your checked luggage, try:
If you don’t want to wrap your expensive and delightful finds in clothes, worrying the whole flight if they’ll make it home with you, you can purchase several items to ease your mind!
Try WineSkin transport bags, VinniBag, or Wine Check cases. You can purchase and check in a case or container to keep your bottles safe. Instead of packing wine and spirits between shirts and socks, there are several cases and check bags that are designed specifically for wine and spirits. Look up IWA’s wine accessories for travel, or explore Amazon for travel cases that protect bottles. If you’re planning on bringing back more than can fit in your luggage, these can help keep bottles from breaking, making them worthwhile check-in additions.
Better yet, skip all the worry and ask the merchant or vineyard if they ship to the US and what the charges would be. Depending on where you purchase it from, they can actually be minimal and ease your troubles, knowing your new favorite finds will be waiting for you upon your return.
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Email Sign-up Travel Credit: Receive a $125 per person ($250 per couple) discount toward your first tour (operated by Trafalgar or Insight Vacations) when you sign up for GET emails; valid for each full-paying adult who signs up with a unique email address. Valid for new bookings only made through December 31, 2023 for travel through December 31, 2023; full payment is due within three days of booking. Discount is not combinable with any other discount or offer, including our GETAWAY Deals, Limited Time Offers, AARP member discount, Past Traveler discount or Multiple Trip discounts. Offer cannot be booked online. Savings not valid on all itineraries and/or departure dates, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Offer excludes Edinburgh Tattoo and Floriade departures. GET reserves the right to validate bookings and will remove any additional offers added online that are not combinable. Other conditions may apply.