Have (Free) Wine, Will Travel

The thing about being an amateur vintner’s daughter is that you get a lot of free wine. Naturally, I want to have a stock of my own father’s wine in my apartment, for nostalgic, romantic and economic reasons.

The thing about living approx. 898 miles away from the vintner is that I have to figure out a way to still get this free wine home. “Have wine, will travel.” Right? …Via airplanes.

My father and his wine lives in Wisconsin. I live in New York, on the fourth floor of a walk up, which makes many modes of transporting the wine even more of a challenge. While the handy Southwest Airlines has not only made sarcastic self-aware flight staff acceptable, it has also made transporting liquids cheaper by giving us free checked luggage.  Despite this considerate deal, transporting wine home in worthwhile quantities (and sans-breakage) remains a small challenge.

Sure, you can throw some wine in a checked bag– easy. But is it worth it, for just a few bottles? Is it worth missing a front spot in the outstretched taxi line once you land in LaGuardia because you are waiting for your checked luggage, carrying a measly two bottles of wine?

Perhaps I’m just greedy.

I’ve transported up to a dozen bottles of wine in suitcases, packing them in bubble wrap and plastic bags, shoving bits of newspaper in between and then double wrapping any clothing bits that were unlucky enough to have to travel with the red liquid risk. But dragging a large suitcase up 4 flights of stairs with about a dozen bottles of wine is not easily done alone. I give great thanks to the many friends I’ve previously regaled to assist (You know who you are!!).


Oooh, fancy Checked Wine Box

Here , to the right, is a fancy checked wine box. This is similar to our Styrofoam wine box, which I myself have tried, also below.

Our’s fits exactly 10 bottles of wine–a full case–snugly packed in a Styrofoam box created specifically for transporting wine. It’s easy for one person to transport, you get a good number of bottles, and its nearly impossible to risk breaking them with the structure of the box. Plus, no clothing is packed in, so no risk of damaging your sample sale sweater.


Eh, not so fancy box

The main problem? Stairs. In New York City, many of us have habitats involving stairs. Generally, many flights of stairs. Shortly after I carried this box up four flights of stairs, following the lengthy one-hour wait in the La Guardia taxi line, I developed a rather strong headache. This later progressed into full blown torticollis (a twisted spine) which left me in pain for a good week and, admittedly, kept me from going out on my first New Year’s in New York.

At least we got the wine back intact….I cannot say as much for my pride.

2014-08-09 22.17.07

the heroic wine bag

This last time, I am proud as a Vintner’s daughter to say I have had a breakthrough, using my old backpacking bag. I asked my father to cuddle a number of bottles in some plastic bags and bubble wrap and stick ‘em on in to my Lowe Alpine pack (something similar to this), which I previously have only used during my time  drudging in Sri Lanka. We got in eight bottles, nothing broke, and the structure of the bag enables all the weight to rest securely on my hips and centred the weight in my strong Lumbar region rather than in my neck, shoulders or upper back.

I felt like a hero, arriving in my kitchen after four flights of stairs to a painless back and a bag of unbroken bottles.

So, for those of you who backpack, I recommend you shove in some good bottles next time you go to the Midwest. For those of you who drink a lot of wine and want to transport it, I recommend you buy a backpack.

The next part is unwrapping what your father packed. Like Christmas morning, only a little more difficult, you get to learn what wine is in store for the next few months.

2014-08-09 22.33.25

bubble wrap mayhem

2014-08-09 22.37.49

plastic bag madness




…mounds of bubble wrap, duct tape, newspapers and plastic bags later

2014-08-09 22.38.42you have your wine:

2014-08-09 22.42.08

Trust me, there are plenty of wine-carrying devices out there. Some are for short distances, like bicycles and cars. Some for long trips, like flights or…steamer ships…Bike-Leather-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-with-Opener-1368796455

Some are downright adorable, like this Pedal-Made leather bicycle wine carrier.


Others, like those from WBC, are just simple cardboard boxes:

ef6351ef6f008d914399049ddc4a7661All I can advise is, when you want to get your wine from point A to point B, never be discouraged, never despair, always be creative, and always avoid getting torticollis.

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