Is wine safe in a checked bag on an airplane?

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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

You recently answered a question about taking wine in checked luggage which was very helpful. My question is: Is it safe (for the wine) to travel in checked luggage during summer months? I’m flying from Texas to Florida, and it’s 98° F outside ….

—Tim, Austin, Texas

Dear Tim,

All of my research points to pretty cool and constant temperatures in the cargo hold of an airplane. After all, it’s pretty nippy up there at 30,000 feet or so. I’ve been told the cargo hold is usually around 40° to 50° F while the plane is in the air (areas where pets are transported tend to be slightly warmer). Of course that doesn’t account for any delays on the ground during loading and unloading or sitting on the tarmac. Make sure your wines are well-insulated to help avoid dramatic temperature swings in either direction.

Likewise, you should be concerned about protecting your wine from breakage. Consider using bubble wrap and/or Styrofoam shipping containers, and consider using plastic bags to protect the rest of your luggage if a bottle does crack. There are even specially designed wine suitcases you might want to look into.

—Dr. Vinny

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