This Genius Wine Packing Hack Relies On An Unexpected Article Of Clothing

After a visit to Tuscany, Bordeaux, or one of the other wine capitals of the world, you might wish you could take the vineyards home with you — and, in a way, you can. If you have a checked bag for your trip home, you can generally bring a bottle (or five) back with you as a personal souvenir or gift for a loved one, as long as it's limited to 5 liters and contains no more than 70% alcohol (per the Transportation Security Administration's rules). But don't worry: If your wine is below 24% alcohol (and most wines are), there is no limit.

The last thing you'd want is to open your suitcase after a long-haul flight and find that the bottle cracked while in transit. Thankfully, one article of clothing likely already packed in your luggage might be all you need to secure wine during your journey home: shoes.

Take a pair of boots or high-tops and place each end of the bottle in one of the shoes. Keeping with the footwear theme, you can also pull tall socks over the bottle for extra cushioning. However, if you plan to give the wine to a friend, you might want to clean and deodorize your shoes and socks before trying this hack.

Shoes act as shock absorbers for your bottles

If you're not traveling with boots or tall footwear (such as during a summer vacation getaway), a couple of sneakers or soft sandals can also do the trick. Instead of putting the wine inside the shoes, use the shoes to line the edges of your suitcase, creating a shock absorber for your wine bottle. Then, even if your luggage is dropped or hit with another bag, the glass in the middle will likely be untouched and damage-free.

Make sure to add some extra cushioning where needed. If your wine bottle still has room to roll around, take some clothes and other soft items and pack them around the bottle within the shoes' perimeter. If you have more than one bottle in your luggage, separate each with more shoes to create a collision-preventing divider. Then, stuff other garments between the bottles to create the ultimate buffer. And remember, socks placed around the wine can work in place of bubble wrap. Once you get home, reward yourself for your creative packing skills with a fresh glass of vino — you deserve it.

Other ways to keep your wine bottles safe

Shoes and a few pairs of socks can work in a pinch when you want to lug wine back home from a trip, but if you're low on footwear and need to wear the only pair you packed (because trust us, you don't want to walk around a plane without shoes on), a few other tips and tools can help you protect your beloved wine stash.

First, if you intend to bring multiple bottles home and you're traveling with a group of friends, divide the bottles between each person. This is one of Rick Steves' genius tips for hauling wine home that both prevents breaks and makes getting through customs a breeze. Then, either have each person use their clothing and shoes to protect the bottles or grab a few wine-packing sleeves. These sleeves come in a variety of designs, from bubble-wrap interiors to inflatable air cushions. Buy a few ahead of your trip or ask the wine shop if they have some sleeves available. In touristy areas, you might even find them conveniently displayed for sale alongside other vino goods.

For serious wine connoisseurs, a wine storage suitcase may be worth the investment. These cases come with foam inserts that perfectly hug wine bottles, preventing them from moving around or cracking en route.