I used to travel with a flask of bourbon and half-bottles of wine in my carry-on. When the rules for carrying liquids onboard changed, I stopped, and let's just say I never attempted to fill a sample-size shampoo bottle with wine. Maybe.
Clear the runway for FlyWine. I've seen versions of single-serving wines before—products like StackTek and Zipz—which remind me more of Jell-O cups than something I want to drink from. FlyWine is an adorable screw-capped miniature wine bottle, promoted as a way to get wine into your carry-on.
Two things distinguish FlyWine from the other single-serving wines: quality and marketing. Stephanie DeMasi, one of the minds behind FlyWine, is involved with two other Napa brands—Juslyn and Emerson Brown. She told me she wanted to create a quality single-serving wine, and I think she's achieved that. The current lineup of wines made exclusively for FlyWine includes The Amplifier, a plush, 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Pinot Gris called The Party Starter with an appealing touch of Riesling and Gewürztraminer. My favorite is a 2012 blend of Barbera, Syrah, Grenache and Viognier called The Kitchen Sink. It's floral, juicy and bursting with berry and peppery plum flavors. I'm not the only one noticing the quality—FlyWine's 20-case lot of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $32,000 at this year's Premiere Napa Valley event.
But FlyWine's marketing angle is curious. The 100ml glass bottles ($10–$13) certainly meet the TSA's requirements for transporting liquids. Just put them in a Ziploc bag with your toothpaste and conditioner and you should be fine. But getting wine onto a plane is only part of the equation. Consuming your own alcohol on board is a no-no according to the Federal Aviation Administration, its rules stating: "No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him."
Some might see a loophole in this rule: Just find a willing flight attendant to open the bottle for you, right? Good luck with that. It's easier to find accounts of bottles being confiscated or $1,000 fines. It might seem restrictive, but it makes sense. Flight attendants are responsible for everyone's safety, and a plane full of folks drinking freely without anyone keeping tabs sounds both unpleasant and potentially unsafe.
FlyWine is aware of the restrictions—their website states they do not endorse the unsealing of alcoholic beverages in-flight. "We kindly ask you to channel your 'inner Fonzie' and 'Be cool,'" quips the site.
Even if it's not a game changer, DeMasi points out it's still handy to have a wine you tuck into a purse or jacket pocket. She mentioned marketing them to hotels, distributing them as party favors, and some like to sneak them into movie theaters (another no-no), or pulling a switcheroo if a host is serving subpar wine. Part of her business is also customizing wine labels, which should appeal to wedding planners.