Thinking About Wine Shipping

A neighbor stopped me a while back and asked “Are you Bear with Spec’s?” I said yes and we began to chat about wine. He asked me what I thought about shipping wine. Specifically, he wanted to know what I think about consumers buying wine in California or elsewhere and shipping it home, or consumers buying wine on the internet or on the phone and having it shipped to their homes? I allowed as to how I don’t think it is a good idea. I’ll get to my “why” in a minute.

Shipping wine is a big issue these days. There are many reasons it seems like a good idea but there are compelling reasons not to ship wine as well.

While, due to a federal court ruling, it is no longer technically illegal for wineries in other areas of the US to ship wine to consumers in Texas, many are reluctant to do so. One reason is that Texas has many “dry” areas where alcohol sales and deliveries are prohibited. I can be quite difficult for a non-local company to know if they are shipping to a legal “wet” address or an illegal “dry” address. Sometimes it’s even a bit tricky for the local companies to know.

It is illegal for wineries or stores in other countries to ship wine or spirits directly to consumers in the US. Not a week goes by when I don’t get a call from someone asking if I can get something through customs for them that they had shipped back from England or France or Italy. I can’t. I am aware that many wineries and shops in other countries will say they can ship to you and sometimes the shipments make it through but more often than not, US Customs catches the shipment and the wines are destroyed. Shipping from out of the country is a losing proposition.

So why do I think shipping wine from elsewhere in the US is a bad idea? Because wine is routinely damaged in shipping. The shipment can be lost. The bottles can break. The wine can freeze. The wine can get too hot.

If wine freezes, the ice can push the cork out or can crack or break the bottle. Even if this doesn’t happen and the wine only gets to a slushy consistency, it is still ruined. The biggest problem is that you might not know.

The bigger problem in Texas is the heat. (Read more . . .)

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