Okay, so now that we’ve talked about visiting Champagne, how many bottles can you buy? And more importantly, how are you going to get them home?
Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
There are two issues here: how to pack it and how to get it into the country. I’ll handle each separately.
I’ll always remember very fondly the other Americans and Aussies in our group that were buying 1-2 bottles when Mr. P and I were trying to figure out the most we could possibly buy. I looked up the rules on my phone on the spot and then we became the proud new owners of 7 bottles.
The rest is history. Every time we visit Paris, we bring home a case of champagne.
How to Pack Champagne in Your Suitcase
Step one, acquire several bottles of champagne. Or just one. But I’m using myself as an example, so several. Moving on.
I’ll never forget the moment, near the end of our time visiting Jean-Claude Mouzon in Champagne, when I asked the retired champagne maker about bottles breaking in my suitcase.
He took two empty bottles, started slamming them together and said something like this: “Zher are seeex atmospheres of pressure in zhese bottles! Zhey weeel not break!”
Fair enough. In case you couldn’t tell through the French accent, his point was this: there is a ton of carbon dioxide in a bottle of champagne. There are six atmospheres of pressure (thereabouts) while it ferments, then it goes down to five when they disgorge and add the corks.
The bottles are made to handle that pressure and will probably not break in your suitcase. The lesson? Toss ‘em in!
I don’t wrap the bottles at all. We space them out among our clothes in our suitcase and they do just fine.
Note: this does not apply to wine. Wine bottles are made from a different type of glass and are much more breakable. Be much more careful — we usually put wine bottles in sealed garbage bags and make sure they have plenty of padding.
No, you can’t ship champange home. That’s another post, but let’s just say that you have to get it in your suitcase if you want to get it home.
How much champagne can you bring into the u.s.?
This information only applies to Americans. I claim zero knowledge of any other nation’s customs laws.
Let’s dispel a big fat myth: Americans think they’re only allowed to bring in 1 liter of alcohol per person.
Let me be clear. There is no limit in the United States on how much alcohol you can bring in for personal use. Don’t believe me? Read it from the horse’s mouth.
Now, your state may have some laws that limit the amount, so do check on that. If you’re bringing in an absurd amount, you may raise some suspicions. For the sake of this post, I’m talking about bringing in 6-10 bottles between two people. No biggie, right?
Americans are allowed to bring in 1 liter of alcohol duty free. Anything above that is subject to duty, like a tax. For wine, that’s currently around $1-2 per liter.
Think about that again, at worst, that’s $2 per bottle. See what I mean? Not that bad.
So, bring your case of champagne home. A case of champagne is 6 bottles, by the way, not 12.
How to Declare your Champagne Purchase
Here’s the short answer: fill out your customs form and give the information that the form asks for. Never lie about it.
The US Customs Declaration Form does not ask for how much you are bringing in. It asks for how much it costs. Repeat that to yourself.
When I fill out my form, I list “Champagne” and a total dollar amount. Period.
Now again, there’s nothing to lie about. If a customs officer asks how many bottles you have, be honest. I’ve never ever had someone ask me that I’ve done this several times.
If they ask, tell them. The worst that happens is you are paying a handful of dollars duty. If they don’t ask, you’re done! Yay champagne!
Do not attempt to pack alcohol in your carry-on luggage — you will not get them through security if you are flying back to the US. If you buy alcohol at the duty free shop, you can carry it onto the plane, but if you have a connection to make within the US, you will have to put your duty free alcohol in your suitcase after you clear customs and before you go back through security.
One more thing . . .
Drink your champagne. It’s not going to age like a red wine. Once the champagne is disgorged, it’s really only good for a year or so. Stop looking for that special occasion and just drink it! Champagne is the little black dress — it goes with everything.
MORE IN THIS SERIES:
Everyone’s Paris is Different
Best Tips for Visiting Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre
How to Eat Out in Paris: 11 tips
How to Ride the Paris Metro
Where to Eat the French Classics in Paris
The Best Walking Tours in Paris
Paris Champagne Tour