Archive for the 'wine travel' Category

Getting smashed: flying with wine, revisited

So my trip to Oregon in July was a pinot-drenched journey–literally.

Because I was flying on United, I was a little wary. A previous commenter on this site had noted that the airline had confiscated his wine even though it was in his checked luggage. (Their policy now states that all wine in the hold must be in a Styrofoam shipping container even if it is in luggage.) So I didn’t want to splurge on too many bottles or any at too high a price in case they were taken away.

I put six bottles in a cardboard carrier and put it in my wheelie duffel. When I arrived back at Laguardia, my six pack had turned into a a five pack and my bag smelled like a winery. Fortunately, the pinot washed out without a problem.

I’ve put a lot of wine in my luggage over the years and thus far escaped unscathed. But it can’t hurt to use a little extra padding–or even use that Styrofoam shipper! Click through for a gory picture of my broken bottle–and of a funny celeb I saw making a spontaneous gate announcement in the terminal. Read more…

Good wine gone bad: Traveling with wine, car edition

As many of you set out on drives for this holiday weekend, consider this conundrum from our recent trip.

As wine geeks are wont to do, we brought a case plus a few bottles on our Adirondack adventure. The wines were from different producers and I bought them from different retailers. We had enjoyed several of the wines in the preceding two weeks and decided to share them with our relatives.

Yet several of the wines tasted too advanced. And we’re talking some 06s and 07s, which shouldn’t be advanced at all.

So what happened? I’m not sure. We did stop for a three-hour lunch with some friends on the way. I parked the car in the shade but when we returned, it was in the summer sun. I’m tempted to say this stint was the cause of our wine woes. But I’ve received so many wines via UPS that must have had even more exposure to the heat of summer than that. Do you have a theory?

Fortunately, the wines were diminished but not destroyed and some seemed unaffected. But as a precaution, I might bring a cooler next time we are going to make a stop on a trip like that. Assuming I can fit it in the car with all the kids’ gear etc!

Which wine would you take as a gift overseas?

Dear Dr. Vino,

If you had to take a bottle of American wine to Bulgaria that reflects the most recent trend in American winemaking, what would that bottle be? I want to take a bottle to my key participant in my academic study (who is one of the best winemakers in Bulgaria) when I head out next month to the wild Balkans. If this is an impossible question to answer, forgive my boldness (& ignorance) and please ignore it!

Impossible–never! It’s a great question, actually. I thought about American wines recently for a piece that I contributed to on about ten independent wines from the good ole US of A. I’d probably take one of those. Many of them actually run counter to the trend in higher alcohol levels so I’d point out that they are, in fact, anti-trendy, or the beginning of a new trend, perhaps. And then maybe bring a Turley that I’m trying to get rid of just for laffs.

What about you? Which wine would you bring if you were in this reader’s shoes?

Poll: bringing wine home in an age of baggage charges

wine shippingLast February, after some time in Napa and Sonoma, I checked my bag and a case of wine at Oakland airport. The nice guy who helped me at JetBlue asked me if I wanted a “fragile” sticker on my box o’ wine. I asked, “Does it really make a difference?”

“Nah,” he replied. I appreciated the honesty!

It turns out that trip was the last of a golden era, the era of “free” checked luggage. Now almost all airlines charge $25 for a second bag and American Airlines continues the Ryanairification of American air travel by imposing a $15 fee on the first bag. (Southwest, of all airlines, still allows two checked bags at no additional charge!)

As travel season kicks off with $4-a-gallon gas this Memorial Day, many wine enthusiasts might be giving thought to how we’ll bring wine home from our travels. UPS certainly looks better with these new airline surcharges (no schlepping!). But then there’s the heat of summer to contend with and it’s withering effect on wine–at least the short airline trip would minimize that.

If your travel takes you to a domestic winery this summer, how will you bring the loot home?

Poll now closed

Related: Bringing wine home from overseas

Stony Hill Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling — and Syrah?

Sixty-year-old, dry farmed Riesling vines at Stony Hill Vineyards, Napa Valley

“We make a red wine.”

Normally that’s not the sort of statement that raises an eyebrow in Napa Valley. But when one vintner told me that at dinner one night last week, I had to taste it for myself.

petermccrea.jpgThe vintner in question was Peter McCrea who owns Stony Hill. While most Chardonnay in the region receives lavish oak treatments and has high alcohol levels, Stony Hill Chardonnay is aged in 40-year-old (and therefore neutral) barrels and has 13 percent alcohol. His other two wines, a Gewurztraminer and a Riesling, roll in at 11.24 and 11.65 percent alcohol respectively. And at $21 a bottle, the wines stood out for another reason from the Napa wines.

Not your average California whites. Which is why I jumped in a car with another wine writer and drove up to the winery the next day in pursuit of the red nobody has ever tasted outside of the winery: Stony Hill Syrah. Read more…

Meadowood: A hotel mini-bar that’s worth uncorking


While you may not be able to touch Wynn’s nuts in Las Vegas, the Meadowood resort in Napa encourages you to pull the corks on the wine in the room.

Even though I wondered briefly which wine goes with Kettle chips, I managed to make it through my stay for a wine writers’ conference last week without opening a bottle in my room. But I was tempted since the wines were some top examples of local offerings at incredible prices. Consider the Joseph Phelps Insignia 2001 for $145 in the room when it can’t be found for less than $130 in a store (find this wine), if at all! While they are not all steals (the Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir was $55 in room compared to $25 in a store) there were other, lower priced wines too: Plumpjack Chardonnay for $65 in room and about $50 in a store (find this wine) and the sparkling Schramsberg blanc de blanc is $35 in the room and about $25 in a store (find this wine). And free in-room wi-fi to run your own price check!

I asked the affable Gilles de Chambure, Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Education at Meadowood about the pricing and quality of the wine in the rooms, he said “we want people to pull the corks.” Indeed!

One negative about the beverages at Meadowood, however, was the abundant pouring in the dining room of one-liter glass bottles of Acqua Panna, a water imported from Tuscany. With bottled water available from five miles away in Calistoga I was tempted to break out my carbon calculator

Traveling with wine puzzle revealed! Mark Ashley of Upgrade: Travel Better


Last week I posted a wine travel puzzle: despite the FAA liquid ban, how could you actually bring a bottle of wine onto a commercial flight in the US?

With the ins and outs, please welcome friend of the blog, Mark Ashley, proprietor of the excellent travel blog Upgrade: Travel Better. Read more…

Puzzle of the day: where can you fly with wine in the USA?

security.jpgFederal law currently prevents taking wine on board airplanes. Or does it?

As we are in a busy travel time of year, some wine enthusiasts may be wanting to travel with the juice (no, Barry Bonds, fermented grape juice) and most will be frustrated. But it is possible!

The puzzle of the day is thus: where (and how) can you bring your own wine into the cabin with you on a commercial flight in the US?

Comments are open.

Related: “Wine: you CAN take it with you when you go (home)


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