Shipping wines home from France

Hey everyone. Looking for a little advice here. I am heading over to France shortly and expect to be buying a decent amount of wine (Alsace, Burgundy, Beaujolais) and I will probably end up with way more wine than I can physically bring back with me in luggage and bringing a wine check (which I own) is not really feasible because I would have to lug it to and from Paris via public transport where we end our trip. I doubt many domaines actually ship wine directly to US consumers so absent that, what do people suggest/recommend? Do you think the hotels we are staying at in Alsace and Burgundy would help arrange for shipping back to the US or is this still not possible due to customs issues? Looking for any advice on this. I have to assume I will probably end up with 2 cases of wine (minimum) that I would look to have shipped back home.

Greatly appreciate any feedback.

Almost certainly won’t make economic sense. Are you talking about wines that are you are not able to buy in the US?

Yes. I would certainly be looking to only ship back bottles I could not otherwise find (easily) here in the US. When I went to Italy a few years ago, I had a case of wine shipped back to me and they declared it as “olive oil” (presumably to ease the customs duty) so that worked out relatively well. I guess I could conceivably just bring a bunch of wine wraps and insulators and put the wine in our checked luggage and pay the overweight bag fees but I was hoping to find an easier solution (even if slightly more costly).

Shame you can’t bring the WineCheck. Worked fine for me this past week.

At least in Champagne, there were a few places we visited that said they could ship to the US. I don’t remember anyone offering that in Alsace, although the bigger houses might be willing to do so. I wouldn’t expect hotels in Alsace or Burgundy to be willing to take that on, but I could be wrong. No harm in contacting them in advance to see what your options are.

I was able to ship several cases from a store in Nuits St. Georges 15 years ago. They worked with one of the big transatlantic shipping outfits – Ziegler or Seabridge, I think – who picked up from the store. Ziegler is based in Dijon, nearby.

You might contact Ziegler or Seabridge, too.

I bought from a store in Alba once that offered that service, too. My brother shipped some wine via FedEx and post from a store in Montalcino, but that wasn’t kosher and some of the wine he sent to Canada was seized.

Shipping a cases will be pretty expensive – much more than the excess baggage charges because you will have to pay duty and customs brokers fees. My advice is to pay for a cab to the airport if that’s possible and bring it with you.

US Customs will allow you to bring in several cases without duty if it’s for personal consumption. So you don’t have to pretend it’s olive oil.

According to the information on the web site, there is no federal limit on what one brings back for personal consumption but at some point (who knows what that is as it probably depends on the individual agent) they may question that it is all for personal consumption. It appears that limits are actually controlled by the state that you live in so technically as I live in Maryland, my total legal limit is one gallon per person.

Yes, good point – the state you land in does matter. Years ago someone posted on problems returning to Texas, and I would guess Philadelphia might be tricky. New York and New Jersey are very laissez faire.

Why would you?
Buy some “shot in the dark” at home champagne.gif
105 points on my scale

Some good points. Standard limit for NJ is 4 liters of wine duty free (which is not much) but you can bring in more if you do not bring in any other forms of alcohol. I can also bring in up to 4 cases as long as I declare the wine and pay the nominal duty. It is really more of an issue about transporting that much wine to the airport with me and getting it packed as opposed to the actual duty restrictions…

Rich, since you’ll be going to Burgundy, it will be worth it to check out the Caveau de Chassagne. It’s an awesome store with excellent prices. They also happen to be shipping experts. If you buy a decent number of bottles from them, they’ll probably be okay with shipping the wines that you bought elsewhere. Last time I checked, their shipping added around $10 to $12 a bottle in shipping costs. Not too bad considering these are wines that are hard to find in the US, and their prices are so much lower there.

I had a case shipped back from Montalcino and it went without a hitch (though it was April and suitable weather for the long trip - not sure about summertime). It was expensive but not ridiculous - I think less than $100 shipping. I bought them all at one store and the store handled the packing and shipping.

Then I also brought my Wine Check and brought back another case worth in that, checked in as luggage. And a couple of extras inside suitcases wrapped in Wine Mummy ziploc/bubble wrap devices. Those were assorted ones and twos bottles I’d bought at wineries and shops over the course of the trip.

My brother sent me some bottles from a shop there that arrived with a hilarious slip of paper in Italian and pidgin English saying “This wine for laboratory analysis purposes only.” To lend an air of authenticity, it also had a postal cancellation stamp from the Montalcino post office. I’m sure that would have impressed US Customs if they’d opened the box.

That’s awesome - I don’t remember if there was any goofiness like that in my box.

That store (Enotecca di Piazza still sends me an occasional email - I think I could order from them remotely on the same kinds of terms, but I haven’t tried it.

The policy as posted is that it is the state where you reside, not land that determines your legal limits. I have no idea how it’s actually enforced.

I’ve brought in one case (in a WineCheck) thru EWR twice now. Each time I very carefully fill in the customs form with # of bottles, price, etc. Each time the immigration officer just stamps it without even looking at the filled in part, which is on the back side. The customs guys just wave me through, even tho IIRC the duty free limit is two bottles, and the WineCheck has a totally obvious wine bottle logo on it.

Of course, as John says, NY and NJ are very laissez faire, don’t know about other airports.

Interesting. I’ve never had a customs agent asked where I lived when I declared wine.

Somehow it’s hard to imagine that an agent at, say, JFK would be capable of applying the laws of other states that might in theory apply to passengers clearing customs in NY before flying on to their home states. Though I can imagine an agent in Phillie or Dallas knowing their local state’s rules.

Yup. I’ve been doing it through JFK and EWR for 20 years without a problem. I believe there is a written policy of not enforcing the duty on up to four cases if it’s for personal consumption. Again, that may not be true if you’re landing in a state with restrictive alcohol rules.

Use a porter (on TGV) and cab/uber to hotel/ airport and wine check it will be much cheaper than shipping even with excess baggage. If you use a porter, they bring you to the front of the cab line at the station. i brought 3 cases back from Avignon on the TGV; the Avignon porter arranged for the Paris porter.

If in Burgundy , 12 pack shippers are available at the Winery supply cooperatives.

Generally, US duty on table wine in excess of the 2 liter personal exemption runs about $1.59 per liter (but there are exceptions), so customs officers don’t usually bother to calculate and collect duty. US duty on spirits in excess of the personal exemption is higher, but they generally don’t bother to collect duty on spirits for personal consumption, either.

There’s a winery supply store in Nuits Saint Georges that sells 12 bottle shipping boxes. You’ll just have google translate on your phone if you don’t speak French. I can’t recall the name, but it’s near the highway.

I’ve brought wine back from France twice- about 15 bottles each time, didn’t have any trouble with customs. With the exchange rates, there’s some good deals to be had.

Some wineries can do the shipments to the US. We bought some wine at Jean Chatron and they have a consolidated shipping option, and the pricing was reasonable. The downside is that it’s hard to account for weather. For us, the wine arrives in NY, and then has to ship cross country. We’re hoping it comes in soon before summer temps start to kick in.