When you’re transitioning to a new house, bringing all the comforts of home and getting them set up in your new spot will help it feel like your own—fast. For some people, “all the comforts of home” involves things like an extensive wine collection, a full bar, or even just a few collectable bottles they’ve planned to save for a special occasion.

As a result, one of the big questions we get when we’re moving people to and from Hawaii is:

“Can I take my wine and/or alcohol with me?”

The answer? Yes—with a couple of caveats.

First and foremost, if you’re packing a container that will travel via ocean freight, the bottles you ship can’t be larger than a gallon. Most standard bottles will fit under this limit, and you’re even good to ship a magnum (1.5 liters or 0.4 gallons) or a jeroboam (3 liters or 0.8 gallons) of champagne along with you.

However, there’s another question you might want to consider:


Do you really want to take your whole bar with you?

A box full of liquor or wine bottles gets heavy fast. Since your move will be priced by weight, any liquor you ship can add significantly to the cost of your move, depending on the size of your collection. Rather than shipping the entire contents of your bar, maybe you’d rather put your liquor and/or wine collection to better use by having a big, blowout farewell party before you leave?

If you decide to take your wine and alcohol with you, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get it safely to your new home. First, let’s start with the most important factor that can affect any alcohol or wine that travels via ocean freight.

The Challenge: Temperature Control

When your possessions are traveling to or from Hawaii in a container, they’ll spend time in several different locations—warehouses and the boat itself among them. During that time, your container will also be exposed to a number of different temperatures. (If you’re a wine collector, you probably already know where this is going!)

Exposure to high temperatures can affect the taste of wine and, in the worst case scenario, actually start to cook the wine right in the bottle. It’s also not ideal for the rest of the components of your home bar, either.

That said, our teams have packed many a wine collection for customers moving to and from Hawaii. And, keep this in mind to give yourself some perspective: Any wine you buy in Hawaii didn’t arrive in a climate-controlled container, so it’s possible to move wine via ocean freight and avoid spoilage.

To overcome the temperature challenge, our pros suggest the following:

  1. Pack your wine or alcohol toward the center of the container so it’s not directly against the walls, which can absorb and transfer heat.
  2. If you do have investment-quality wines, you might want to consider sending those via air freight. Although UPS and FedEx will generally not ship alcohol for individuals (only licensed distributors), your moving company should be able to help you arrange for a separate air freight shipment to protect your investment.

Now that we’ve addressed the major challenge around shipping your wine and alcohol, let’s dive into the “how” of getting it done.

Step #1: Downsize

We recommend downsizing before you move to every customer we talk to. Before you order any supplies or pack a single bottle, take a good look at your home bar and/or your wine collection. Decide what you want to ship with you, and what you might want to enjoy (or gift to a close friend!) before you leave. Unlike, say, downsizing your closet, downsizing your wine and liquor stash can be a fun, social activity, so make sure to embrace the possibilities while you’re saving yourself money on your move.

Step #2: Double-Check the Regulations at Your Destination

This is especially important if you’re making an international move, where you might be charged duties on liquor or wine that you choose to import. Even if you’re moving to the mainland, it’s not a bad idea to double-check the regulations of the state you’ll be living in. The state of Pennsylvania used to have strict regulations against bringing wine and liquor into the state. Although import for personal use is allowed, you may need to notify their Liquor Control Board to keep your nose clean.

Either way, before you start buying materials and packing, make sure you understand any applicable regulations so you can make a final decision before you prep your bar.

Step #3: Loop Your Movers in Early

If you’re impatient to start packing, there’s just one more consideration before diving into the boxes, tape, and packing paper.

Make sure you tell your movers upfront what kind of wine and alcohol you plan to move. Not every mover can transport alcohol, so you need to make sure you’re upfront with this information in the quoting phase.

Additionally, if you’re moving expensive bottles, you’ll need to:

  • Account for each one on a high-value inventory form so you and your movers have an accurate list of what you’re shipping.
  • Ask what your options will be for protecting your move in case any of these bottles get damaged or broken in transit.

And, while you’re asking these questions, it’s also a good idea to ask your moving company what kind of experience they have with packing wine and/or alcohol. This can help you differentiate one mover from another as you’re deciding which company to go with.

Step #4: Secure the Right Materials

Finally! If you’re itching to grab that tape gun and get going, let’s talk about the materials you’ll need to pack your wine and liquor. If you want to pack like the pros, you’ll need to assemble the right materials, which include:

Boxes: You’ll have a couple of options for boxes, including:

  • Wine bottle shippers, which include a molded polystyrene insert that will keep your bottles in place.
  • Wine carrier boxes that include a grid of cardboard pieces to keep bottles in place.

By the way, if you’re wondering where to splurge and where to save, this is an arena where it’s worth it to invest.

Packing Paper: If you’re using wine carrier boxes with cardboard dividers, you may want to stuff some packing paper into the empty spaces around the necks of the bottles. This way, you can feel extra confident that everything will stay in place while the box is in transit. Packing paper is simply unlined newsprint that you can get from any moving supply store or hardware store, and it’s the same stuff that the pros use. Plus, unlike newsprint, there’s no ink to rub off on your bottles!

Tape: As when you’re packing other heavy objects, don’t skimp on the tape. It’s important to seal both the top and the bottom well, especially since you may decide to lay the box on its side in order to keep the corks of your wine wet. If you’re doing a move between Hawaii and the mainland, your wine will be in its container for a few weeks, so make your decisions accordingly.

Step #5: Let It Rest Before Enjoying

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you may already know that there are two things that can happen to wine when it undergoes a long, bumpy journey:

  • “Bottle Shock,” in which a wine’s flavors and aromas become flat or dampened.
  • Sediment in the bottle can also get stirred up in transit.

As a result, many experts suggest letting your wine rest for anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. In contrast, some experts assert that bottle shock is a myth, while still others say that a few days of rest, followed by careful decanting, will take care of most sediment issues.

If you’re enough of a wine enthusiast to move your collection with you, you’ve probably already formed your own opinion on this topic. While we’re not wine experts, we do spot an opportunity here: Once you arrive at your new home, locate your new go-to neighborhood wine store and grab a few bottles to get you through the resting period, just to be safe.

Raising a Toast to Your New Home

When you get down to it, what makes a new house start to feel like a home? For some people, the feeling of “home” sets in when everyone’s beds are set up and made. For others, a space doesn’t feel like theirs until they’ve cooked their first meal. And, for still others, it’s those finishing touches like art on the walls or a home bar setup that creates that all-important sense of place. If your wine collection is one of those things that makes you feel at home, you now know everything you need to take it with you and establish yourself in a new location, whether it’s in Hawaii or on the mainland. Cheers to an easy transition to your new home.




Want some help moving your wine collection—or all of the personal possessions that make you feel at home? We’d be happy to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable transition. We do local moves, interisland moves, mainland moves, and international moves, too. Just reach out to us to get started with a complimentary quote.


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