Some people drink wine when they travel. Some people travel to drink wine. If you’re in either of these categories, we’ve gathered some must-haves for your next adventure.
While it is possible to open a bottle of wine with a shoe, a corkscrew is certainly an easier way to approach the opportunity. Several companies make bladeless waiter’s corkscrews that cut foil with tiny disks and are technically allowed through airport security, but even printing “TSA compliant” on the side is no guarantee that some power-hungry agent won’t confiscate it. The $30 “Ah-So” cork puller takes a little more practice but might not attract as much attention.
Aerators don’t do the job that time and/or decanting bring to a wine, but they are better than nothing on a tightly wound red. Probably. But at least you can get an aerator that doesn’t take up much room if you want to give it a try.
The best glassware is glass. But until Riedel comes out with a travel crystal, you’re going to have to make do. Your options are stainless steel (which, while nonreactive, isn’t without a taste, although it’s not antithetical to most varietals) or clear polymer (which, while clear and odorless, is still plastic). For the ultimate in travel-safe containers, there are products like Bendiware, a squishy vessel in less-than-serious silicone.
You likely aren’t familiar with every label in the oenosphere, but the free Vivino app comes very near it. Just scan a label with your smartphone, and you’ll soon have pricing and a star rating on whatever vintage you’ve found in some far-flung bottle shop. (Miraculously, it also works on restaurant wine lists—well-formatted wine lists, anyway.)
With the local wine, you should indulge in the local (and unpasteurized) cheeses if at all possible, but if you find yourself too far from a fromagerie, you’ll be safe packing hard aged cheeses in your luggage. Aged cheddars and Goudas, dry Jack, Emmenthaler, and Parm-Reg and Grana Padano are all suitable portable choices.
The old “wrap it in your dirty clothes” method is tried-and-true, but no one wants to see a Bordeaux-bleeding bag at the final destination. Seasoned wine transporters travelers carry inflatable bottle bags, or pack their finds in sealed sacks that promise to absorb a broken bottle’s worth of wine. For more serious hauls, grab a valise for your Valais; high-end models are hard polycarbonate with foam interiors and hold a case of 550 ml bottles.
Wine-drinking tourists know how to make do. A coffee filter is an emergency sediment remover. An unlimited ice supply means plenty of chilled champagne in the bathroom sink, the trash can, or (if you roll that way) in the bathtub. And in a pinch, you can always open a bottle of wine with a shoe.