Last Updated on August 17, 2020 by Dani
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway writes, “Drinking wine was not snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking either wine or cider or beer.”
One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling to Europe–especially Italy and France–is how the cultural relationship with alcohol is different than it is back home. Wine (occasionally even in moderation) is considered a part of life; a glass of wine is as much a part of dinner as the bread or vegetables.
Additionally, the quality of the wine you find in much of Europe is often extraordinary. A nondescript house red in a cafe might blow your mind–and the fact that it will cost you less than a mediocre-at-best bottle back in the states is almost beside the point.
Bringing Wine Back to EU Countries
If you travel to France or Italy from another European Union country, thank your lucky stars. One source we found said that, within countries of the EU, you could travel with up to 120 bottles of wine without paying taxes. They sell suitcases built especially for this kind of souvenir shopping.
Bringing Wine Back to the U.S.
On the other hand, if you travel to Italy or France form the United States and want to bring wine home, you get one liter duty-free. (Here’s the U.S. Customs page.)
But wait; don’t let this ruin your trip. The duty on wine over the liter-per-person limit is pretty minimal. Most of the quotes we’ve seen online range from $1-2 per liter. In the scheme of things, that’s not so much, is it?
How to Ship the Wine
There are a few methods you can use to ship wine back home. The primary method we saw involved packing the bottles in your suitcase–with two caveats. The first was to make sure the bottles were well-padded; the second was to be honest when coming through customs. Stories circulate that customs agents have been known to skip the small tax for a few bottles imported for personal use.
If you fall in love with a vineyard and want to bring home several cases, you might want to consider the services of a shipping company. Unfortunately, doing so can easily turn into an expensive endeavor, canceling out the bargain price you paid. Some wine aficionados have been known to conduct freight negotiations with shipping companies for what is, arguably, still a smaller shipment than they may be used to.
Bringing Home More Than Wine
It might sound like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, but traveling the world in pursuit of antiques and artifacts is a serious hobby for many. For others, it’s a full-time career. With that said, it’s a far cry from outrunning rolling boulders and evading evil henchmen. The reality is something more along the lines of bargain hunting meets globetrotting, all the while having the sense and savvy to know what you’re buying and appreciate its real value.
Whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a marble bust, most genuine antiques and artifacts don’t go in your carry-on luggage or even your checked baggage. The safe bet is always to have these items shipped, too.