You can't go wrong gifting a special bottle to a wine lover. But getting that wine to the person may be more complicated than choosing between pinot noir and dolcetto. Shipping wine as a gift can be, unfortunately, a bit of a headache. There are a few basic things to know to ensure the lucky recipient receives their wine safely (and legally).
What You Need to Know About Shipping Wine
First things first. If you've scrounged your closets for bubble wrap and pulled out your packing tape with plans to ship the wine yourself, stop. In most cases, it's illegal to send wine via the United States Postal Service and other carriers, no matter where you are shipping to. Only licensed companies and retailers can ship wine throughout the United States. Even then, there is a rule book. Certain states won't accept out-of-state wine, while others only allow direct shipments from wineries. You could familiarize yourself with the ever-evolving alcohol statutes, or you could save yourself the frustration and leave it to the professionals.
How to Ship Wine
There are many options out there for getting your gift of wine on its way. From web shops to specific wineries, you'll have a diverse array of wines to choose from and the retailer can take care of the rest.
There are more online wine shops than ever before. From broad distribution to specialized, rare bottle shops, tracking down a particular wine to send likely won't be a problem. While looking for your wine, you can choose between exclusive online bottle shops or hybrid stores and online retailers. Make sure to check shipping details before you get your heart set on a certain wine. Many do ship nationwide, but there are certain states that have special rules and they may require you to purchase and ship within the state. Keep in mind that if you order from an online retailer based in New York state and have a bottle shipped to California, you're likely going to be looking at some hefty shipping costs. In that case, it may be better to find a retailer based in L.A. or San Francisco to work with.
A few online retailers to choose from include MYSA, which offers a curated selection of natural wines from around the world. You can order a bottle, or two, or join their wine club, in which case you'll receive free shipping, bottle discounts and more. They ship throughout the U.S. If you are looking for more convention wine, try Drizly. They have a wide selection of bottles you are more likely to recognize from the grocery store, along with a smattering of others. They have a direct, rapid delivery service if you are sending the wine to an address within a major U.S. city; otherwise, a normal shipping time of 5-7 days applies. Primalwine also has a great selection of natural wines. They now have a UK web shop as well, so if your special someone is across the ocean, you can still shop for them online. If you are looking to send to an address on the east coast, check out Kingston Wine Co. A quaint shop located upstate New York, they ship both in and out of state. At the other end of the country, Helen's in Los Angeles is a female-owned bottle shop with impeccable taste, shipping to nearly every U.S. state.
Local Bottle Shops
If you are sending wine to Mississippi, Kentucky, Utah, Arkansas, or Alabama, you may have a hard time finding an online retailer who can legally ship there. In this case, search a local wine retailer near your delivery address. If it's close enough, they may even deliver the bottle themselves.
Directly Through A Winery
If you've just visited a winery and had something that you fell in love with and want to share it, contact the winery directly to find out where they ship. Larger wineries will often ship to across the country with shipping costs and minimums varying based on the state. Smaller wineries may or may not have the correct permits to ship. If you want to go this route, check in with your chosen winery and see what they can offer.
While shipping wine as a gift does take a bit of research, it's easy enough once you've found a good retailer who will take care of the permits and packaging. After the logistics, all that's left to you is picking out a fun bottle to surprise someone with.