How to Pack Wine for a Move (Like the Pros)

Posted in: I'm a Mover, How To Pack, Pro Packing Guides

[Synopsis: Packing wine obviously requires care. Here we go into a few important particulars.]

Customers will sometimes wonder: Can wine be safely and legally transported? The answer, of course, is yes! But there are a few things that both we and the customer should know about all those bottles of red and white adult juice.

5 Tips for The Mover

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  • Wine is heavy. 12 bottles will weigh around forty pounds. Not only need a book carton, but a new one is strongly suggested.
  • Strengthen that carton. Use plenty of tape on the bottom. Those bottles will also put pressure on the carton in a way books won’t. An extra piece of (corrugated) cardboard adds strength as well as a little more cushioning.
  • Since glass is much stronger when kept vertical it seems logical to pack wine upright in the box. But some people (including Mayflower) advise laying those bottles down to keep the corks moist (particularly salient with expensive-side red wine). Others (like the folks at FlatRate) say transporting reds upside down is best “to ensure that the corks stay wet and sediment remains undisturbed.” (This after disturbing the sediment by rolling each bottle in packing paper.) We suggest packing bottles of wine upright, with a caveat in Customer Tip #1 below. However, Mayflower says (without explaining why) that sparkling wine and champagne should always be transported upright.
  • As with plates and glasses in a dish pack, wine in a book box should be packed tightly. In addition to that extra piece of cardboard at the bottom, some extra packing paper might work although crumpled paper makes for an uneven surface and may make the tops of the wine bottles sit higher than the top of the box. A dish towel or two might be the better bet. Dividers (sometimes called ‘wine cells’) can lend vertical strength to the carton (especially if the wine bottles are significantly shorter than the carton) but if they aren’t packed tightly the carton loses some horizontal integrity. Adequate amounts of packing paper, around and in between the bottles, is critical whether we use dividers or not.
  • Filling in the spaces between the skinny bottle necks is particularly important along the sides of the carton, but to support the top layer of packing paper (or dish towels) it’s a good idea to be generous with the newsprint.

5 Tips for the Customer

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Moving to the next town, or even the next state, may not pose problems for a box of wine in the back of a truck. But for longer periods of time due to a long-distance move or a long period of storage, there are a few things the customer might consider.

  • If your wine has been packed upright, it might be a good idea to lay that box on its side overnight or when it goes into storage, to keep those corks moist.
  • Extreme temperatures can ruin a good bottle of wine. Consider climate control during transport if that is an option, or think about keeping that box in the car or the cab of the truck to guard against the summer heat or the winter chill.
  • If moving out of state, check for laws regulating how much wine or other forms of alcohol can be transported across state lines.
  • Allow wine to sit for a week after being transported. If you doesn’t want to wait that long to crack open a bottle to celebrate finishing your move, go out and find a liquor store in your new neighborhood since hey, you’re probably going to want to know where it is anyway. (Just saying.)
  • If you’re supplying your own boxes, the local liquor shop is a good place to find some good wine cartons, complete with those dividers.

One final point: Packing and transporting uncorked bottles of wine – or any bottles that have been opened – is risky for obvious reasons. The safer bet is for the customer to finish off any opened bottles (preferably before the day of the move) or give them to their neighbors or friends who will likely be happy to help with at least THAT aspect of the move.

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