We recently traveled to Portugal and Spain to look for new wines and wineries to import to the United States and offer in our web wine store. We criss-crossed Iberia for 17 days, visiting a number of different wineries and sampling their offerings. As always, we found some great wines and some, well, not-so-great wines. In evaluating wines, we always ask ourselves several questions. First, do we love this wine enough to buy it for our own consumption? Second, can this wine’s flavor profile fit in the U.S. market? And third, does the wine have an attractive price point? Winning wines have to score a “yes” on all three of these questions.
Once we find a wine that meets our basic criteria, our process is to bring it home with us and taste it with sommeliers and other respected wine geeks. On this particular trip, we found quite a few wines that met the cut and we wanted to bring back home with us.
Because we had a car for the entirety of the trip, we just kept accumulating wine without really thinking about the important question: how are we going to take this wine home with us? We did not expect to fall in love with any wineries on this trip and were thinking of it more like an initial scouting trip. As a result, we didn’t bring any wine bags or wine carriers with us. When it was time to leave our hotel for the return flight to San Francisco, we found ourselves packing bubble wrap and clothes around our precious liquid cargo and hoping for the best!
Obviously this is not the best way to travel securely with bottles of wine! We are now planning our next trip and we decided to plan ahead and take some empty wine carriers with us. Our current set are really better suited for taking wine to tastings with restaurants, stores and sommeliers, but not so much for international checked baggage. So we started reading articles on what the best options might be for various sizes of shipment. We came across an article from I Love Wine, one of our favorite wine blogs, and one of their latest blogs gave us everything we could ever want to know.
Here is their excellent evaluation of the top 10 best wine carriers for various numbers of bottles. You can access the article here: https://www.ilovewine.com/best-wine-travel-bags/ or read below. In case you’re interested, we are investing in several of the carriers described in #10.
Ten Best Wine Travel Bags – I Love Wine
We love wine more than anything. Traveling comes in a close second, so traveling with wine is nearly perfect. It presents some challenges depending on how far you’re traveling and whether you need to keep the wine chilled in transit. Wine travel bags with insulated interiors solve part of the problem, but they vary in quality. Wine bags are also available in a variety of styles, so you need a carrier that reflects your taste as well as the formality of the event. Here we share ten of the best wine travel bags. Whether you’re carrying wine for a picnic on the beach, a train ride through Napa Valley, or a plane trip across the Atlantic, we have the perfect options for you.
1. OPUX Insulated 2-Bottle Wine Tote: $17
This insulated wine tote from OPUX is perfect for an afternoon picnic. The wine compartment is insulated to keep the bottles cool and has a divider to protect them from clinking together. It has convenient dual zippers, plus a front pocket for carrying other accessories. For a wine tote under $20, we’re impressed with its durability. It has a handle at the top, plus a detachable shoulder strap, offering a few transit options. We also love that it’s available in so many colors. For the price point, you can easily pick up a few of these to match the mood of the occasion. As a bonus, it comes with a free corkscrew.
2. Picnic at Ascot Deluxe Insulated Wine Tote: $24
This kit from Picnic at Ascot is an even more complete picnic kit. It includes two acrylic wine glasses, a wine opener, and a pair of napkins. With the goblets in place it holds just one bottle of wine. Remove the goblets and you can carry two bottles. The panel that holds your wine opener folds neatly between them so they won’t collide. The tote is made of sturdy canvas and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Although it’s and extremely durable carrier, we love that it comes with a lifetime guarantee from the company.
3. KOVOT 9-Piece Wine Travel Bag and Picnic Set: $25
KOVOT boasts one of the most complete picnic kits on the market, including accessories you might not have thought about. It includes an insulated compartment to hold two bottles of wine with a divider in between. The side pocket holds two acrylic wine glasses, cloth napkins, a corkscrew, and a bottle stopper. The surprise accessory is a pair of stakes so you can secure your wine glasses on uneven ground. At first blush, this might seem like overkill, but it’s perfect if you need to set your glass down on the beach. This picnic set would make a wonderful impression on a first date and also makes a marvelous gift for any wine lover.
4. Kato Insulated 2-Bottle Wine Carrier: $20
If you want a 2-bottle carrier that looks more like a regular tote, Kato makes this stylish wine bag. It keeps wine chilled for hours thanks to its internal padding and insulation, plus it has a flexible divider to protect the bottles in transit. We love the zippered side compartment for carrying your phone, keys, or wine accessories. Like some of the other kits, it also comes with a free corkscrew. Above all, we love the variety of colors and patterns available, making this one of the most versatile and stylish totes at this price point.
5. Vina 3-Bottle Insulated Wine Carrier: $18
The Vina is our favorite 3-bottle wine tote. The bottles are held in place by dividers and the insulation does well in keeping chilled bottles cool until you get to your destination. One thing we especially love is how easy this carrier is to clean. The high-quality polyester is just a wipe down from looking perfect again, making it the ideal carrier for picnics, festivals, and other outdoor events. It has a convenient side pocket for storing the free corkscrew and any other items you need handy.
6. Kato 4-Bottle Insulated Wine Tote: $22
We love the styling of this 4-bottle carrier from Kato, with its leather accents and stainless steel hardware. The tote is made of canvas and comes in gray or a cute navy and white striped pattern. It doesn’t have side pockets, but we love that the divider inside is removable, which gives some storage flexibility. For such a stylish bag, we love the affordability. The quality of insulation is also impressive, keeping chilled wines cold for hours.
7. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Weekend Wine Carrier: $69
For higher-capacity totes, sturdy construction becomes critical. If the carrier isn’t built to handle the weight of the bottles, it will wear out quickly. Worse, it might break while you’re carrying it. For transporting up to 6-bottles, our favorite is this canvas wine carrier from Wine Enthusiast. It has a padded divider which leaves space to carry up to six Bordeaux bottles, plus a side pocket for accessories. The insulation and padding are both excellent and the exterior construction is just as impressive. The forest green canvas is durable and we love the chocolate brown trim. There’s also a monogrammable leather hang tag in case you’d like to personalize it.
8. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Leather Wine Bag: $300
For a 6-bottle tote that doesn’t look like a standard wine carrier, Wine Enthusiast offers this gorgeous leather weekend bag. It’s much more expensive than a simple canvas carrier, but you won’t find a classier wine travel bag. It’s 100% handcrafted and the attention to detail is apparent in all aspects of the bag, both inside and out. It holds up to six bottles upright, separated with padded dividers, and has an outer pocket for small accessories. It’s the perfect bag to accompany you on that train trip through wine country you’ve always dreamt of.
9. Wine Wings Wine Bottle Protector Sleeve: $20 for 4
Planning a longer journey? If you’re traveling by plane, Wine Wings are an inexpensive way to safely pack your wine. These bags completely seal the wine bottle inside with Ziplocks and velcro to keep any leaks contained. The bags are also padded internally with bubble-wrap and have a stronger exterior to prevent piercing by other items in your bag. They’re durable and reusable, so investing in these means your only worry will be keeping your suitcase under the weight limit.
10. VinGardeValise 12-Bottle Wine Travel Suitcase: $209
Finally planning that wine vacation through Europe and plan to bring a lot of bottles home? VinGardeValise makes suitcases specifically designed to keep your wine safe during its journey. This suitcase holds 12 bottles and weighs between 43 and 49 lbs when filled to capacity. This keeps it safely under the checked bag weight limit for most airlines, though be sure to double check when you buy your tickets. The suitcase meets TSA, FAA, and airline luggage standards and is a sturdy piece of luggage, as well. It has double channel zippers, a reinforced internal frame, and wheels that spin 360 degrees for easy mobility. We also love that it has a TSA-compliant lock to keep the wine even more secure.
Thanks to Kristin at I Love Wine for the “top 10 list” and helping us solve our travel challenge.
December 8, 2018