Wine Skins Review – Never Travel Without These if Carrying Wine

When it comes to traveling with wine, we are always aware of the risk of bottles breaking in transit.

While there are many ways to mitigate the risk of breakage when bottles are on the move, one of our recent favorites has been a fairly simple product known as a Wine Skin (sometimes written as WineSkin). These padded bags do a great job to provide an extra layer of protection and are something we never forget to pack when traveling!

So in this one, we thought we'd discuss what Wine Skins are, how they work, when you may want to use them, and some risks associated as well!

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How We Approach Buying Wines at Wineries and Tastings

Over the years, we've visited dozens upon dozens of wineries, tasting rooms, and specialty wine stores around the world and have found we have one consistent pattern- we almost always leave with bottles. It doesn't matter if the winery is epic or borderline terrible, we leave with a bottle from virtually every place we visit.

While someone should probably organize an intervention about that, there is also a method to our madness.

To put it simply, we've found that the best approach to shopping for wine is to only buy single bottles when visiting wineries- never cases and very rarely multiple of the same bottle. Why? We simply don't trust our palate after a day of tasting!

To us, the true test of a winery is not how their individual tastings stack up, but rather what we think of a bottle on its own without any other wine along with it. That requires buying what we perceive to be our favorites from each and every tasting, taking them home, and enjoying them one by one over time.

In this one, we thought we'd take a step back and discuss our logic behind this a bit more. It may sound a bit confusing, but we promise it will make sense by the end.

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How to Safely Fly With Wine in Checked Luggage

Whenever we travel to wine regions, we always like to buy wine at wineries we visit. But as we often visit five, ten, or even more wineries in a single trip to popular regions, the wine we accumulate adds up (we very rarely leave any winery without a bottle- call that a good or bad habit, we'll accept either distinction).

Then we are faced with a problem that traveling wine addicts know all too well- how do you take wine on a plane?

As liquid limitations more or less discount carry-on bottles (outside of duty-free purchases abroad without a domestic connection once stateside), we turn to our checked luggage. But as these are taken outside of our control shortly after arriving at the airport, we have to take great care in how we package our wine to survive the bumps and jolts they may experience along the way.

In this one, we wanted to share some of the ways we go about checking wine in suitcases to help improve the odds of having intact bottles when we arrive home. Currently, we have used the below to bring 24 bottles home from a single trip without issue!

Disclaimer: The below steps are what we personally use to fly with wine in suitcases that are checked. Please note that this is not foolproof and there are inherent risks associated with each method. If you take bottles on a plane, be aware that they could break and airlines often want you to sign a liability waiver for products like wine. While we've had good luck with the below, we also cannot call them foolproof. As such, if you are checking wine, note that it is a risk that you are accepting on your own.

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Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port NV – Blackberry Pie in a Glass

Normally on this site, we always try and have a food pairing with our wines, and this is true even with sweet dessert wines.

But sometimes we find a bottle of wine that is so good on its own we forgo a pairing outright and drink it straight. Graham's Six Grapes Reserve NV Port was one such bottle, and with its intense blackberry pie flavor, you can imagine why we enjoyed it solo!

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Chateau de la Ragotiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2016 Review

We first heard about Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie in our WSET classes. This wine hails from the western part of the Loire Valley near the ocean and is considered to be a cool-to-moderate maritime climate- perfect for a white grape such as this one.

But it is the Sur Lie element that makes this one the most intriguing because the wine is aged on the lees to give it a bit of added character in the glass (something you do not see in many muscat variants, or at least, something we haven't seen much of). Naturally, as soon as I spotted this bottle from Chateau de la Rogotiere in the store, I had to buy it to give it a shot.

While would say that the lees elements in this bottle are not as intense as others we've had since cracking this one open, it adds a nice complexity to the wine all the same.

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Arista Rose Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2019 Review

While our love affair with the Sonoma winery, Arista, is primarily due to their stellar Pinot Noirs, we have been known to sample some of their other offerings like Chardonnay and even a rose made from Pinot Noir from time to time.

The rose from the Russian River Valley may not pack as much of a full-body punch as its intense-red siblings, but this rose wine from Sonoma checks the boxes for us all the same.

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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2019 Review – A Gem From South Africa

We're quickly learning that we love South African Chardonnay and it is for two great reasons.

First, the grape seems to grow beautifully in this country and many wine makers do not seem to go over-the-top on winemaking choices like barrel aging or malolactic fermentation (of the ones we've tried, at least). Second, you can find an incredible bottle for a fraction of the price of other, perhaps more well-known regions for this particular grape (California I'm looking at you on both accounts).

So while Hamilton Russell's Chardonnay may be a bit of a splurge by South Africa wine standards, this one holds up and is perhaps our favorite Chardonnay we've had to date.

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Adaga Vinho Verde Branco 2018 Review – A Sippable White Blend

Every so often we come across a bottle of wine where we simply can't find out much about it. Bottles where the grapes are not listed on the label (or even on Vivino), online reviews are few and far between (and rather generic when we find them), and the brand's website appears non-existent, too.

Adaga's Vinho Verde was one such bottle that we received in a mystery box from Plonk Wine Club. As we had misplaced the shipping information and the club no longer carries this one, by the time we opened it we really didn't have much to go on (we had to email the club to find out it is a mix of Arinto, Alvarinho, and Loureiro but that is all we've got).

So while the limited notes from the club were all we've got, we have to admit this one was quite the sipper all the same!

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Armenia Wine Company’s Red Blend Review – Areni and Haghtanak

Our first wine from Armenia comes from the Armenia Wine Company and was simply labeled “Dry Red Blend” (without even a vintage found on the bottle).

Thankfully, this one did label the grapes at least and we found out it was from two new-to-us grapes of Areni and Haghtanak. However, had the bottle been hidden from us we would've claimed this one was a young Pinot Noir or possibly even a Gamay as the flavor profiles were quite comparable.

For a basic red blend, well, we'll take that!

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Damiani Lemberger 2019 Review – Cherry, Cola, and More

If you are not familiar with the red grape Lemberger, you may know it by its German name- Blaufrankisch. This grape is grown primarily in central Europe and especially in and around Austria where we have had many glasses during our visits.

But Lemberger is becoming more and more popular outside of Europe, and the Finger Lakes in the United States is one such wine region growing this grape successfully.

We tried this one while at Damiani on Seneca Lake and knew we had to come home with a bottle.

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