Category Archives: Travel

It’s in the Bag!

Wine. Travel. Wine and travel. The two just seem to go together. Sometimes, the travel can be as simple as a picnic at a local park. Other times, it’s a trans-ocean, international dream trip. Depending on your journey, you may need different wine transport options. Fortunately, our friends at I Love Wine have compiled a list and review of a number of different Wine Travel Bags for your consideration. From a single-bottle picnic tote, complete with glassware and corkscrew, to a full-blown 12-bottle wine suitcase, they have you covered.

We’ve used bubble wrap wine sleeves when travelling, similar to No. 9 in the featured article below, and we’ve been very happy with the results. No breakage, no leaks, and no problems with packing – as long as you keep your suitcase under the weight limit! Remember, a bottle of wine weighs an average of about three pounds! Whether we’re bringing wine with us on our trip, or planning to buy some at our destination to bring home…or both…these sleeves are practical and affordable.

Now’s the time to start planning your 2019 getaways. Don’t forget to consider the wine! Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these bags, or something similar!

Cheers!

We love wine more than anything. Traveling comes in a close second, so traveling with wine is nearly perfect. It presents some challenges depending on how far you’re traveling and whether you need to keep the wine chilled in transit. Wine travel bags with insulated interiors solve part of the problem, but they vary in quality. Wine bags are also available in a variety of styles, so you need a carrier that reflects your taste as well as the formality of the event. Here we share ten of the best wine travel bags. Whether you’re carrying wine for a picnic on the beach, a train ride through Napa Valley, or a plane trip across the Atlantic, we have the perfect options for you.

1. OPUX Insulated 2-Bottle Wine Tote: $17

This insulated wine tote from OPUX is perfect for an afternoon picnic. The wine compartment is insulated to keep the bottles cool and has a divider to protect them from clinking together. It has convenient dual zippers, plus a front pocket for carrying other accessories. For a wine tote under $20, we’re impressed with its durability. It has a handle at the top, plus a detachable shoulder strap, offering a few transit options. We also love that it’s available in so many colors. For the price point, you can easily pick up a few of these to match the mood of the occasion. As a bonus, it comes with a free corkscrew.

2. Picnic at Ascot Deluxe Insulated Wine Tote: $24

This kit from Picnic at Ascot is an even more complete picnic kit. It includes two acrylic wine glasses, a wine opener, and a pair of napkins. With the goblets in place it holds just one bottle of wine. Remove the goblets and you can carry two bottles. The panel that holds your wine opener folds neatly between them so they won’t collide. The tote is made of sturdy canvas and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Although it’s and extremely durable carrier, we love that it comes with a lifetime guarantee from the company.

3. KOVOT 9-Piece Wine Travel Bag and Picnic Set: $25

KOVOT boasts one of the most complete picnic kits on the market, including accessories you might not have thought about. It includes an insulated compartment to hold two bottles of wine with a divider in between. The side pocket holds two acrylic wine glasses, cloth napkins, a corkscrew, and a bottle stopper. The surprise accessory is a pair of stakes so you can secure your wine glasses on uneven ground. At first blush, this might seem like overkill, but it’s perfect if you need to set your glass down on the beach. This picnic set would make a wonderful impression on a first date and also makes a marvelous gift for any wine lover.

4. Kato Insulated 2-Bottle Wine Carrier: $20

If you want a 2-bottle carrier that looks more like a regular tote, Kato makes this stylish wine bag. It keeps wine chilled for hours thanks to its internal padding and insulation, plus it has a flexible divider to protect the bottles in transit. We love the zippered side compartment for carrying your phone, keys, or wine accessories. Like some of the other kits, it also comes with a free corkscrew. Above all, we love the variety of colors and patterns available, making this one of the most versatile and stylish totes at this price point.

5. Vina 3-Bottle Insulated Wine Carrier: $18

The Vina is our favorite 3-bottle wine tote. The bottles are held in place by dividers and the insulation does well in keeping chilled bottles cool until you get to your destination. One thing we especially love is how easy this carrier is to clean. The high-quality polyester is just a wipe down from looking perfect again, making it the ideal carrier for picnics, festivals, and other outdoor events. It has a convenient side pocket for storing the free corkscrew and any other items you need handy.

6. Kato 4-Bottle Insulated Wine Tote: $22

We love the styling of this 4-bottle carrier from Kato, with its leather accents and stainless steel hardware. The tote is made of canvas and comes in gray or a cute navy and white striped pattern. It doesn’t have side pockets, but we love that the divider inside is removable, which gives some storage flexibility. For such a stylish bag, we love the affordability. The quality of insulation is also impressive, keeping chilled wines cold for hours.

7. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Weekend Wine Carrier: $69

For higher-capacity totes, sturdy construction becomes critical. If the carrier isn’t built to handle the weight of the bottles, it will wear out quickly. Worse, it might break while you’re carrying it. For transporting up to 6-bottles, our favorite is this canvas wine carrier from Wine Enthusiast. It has a padded divider which leaves space to carry up to six Bordeaux bottles, plus a side pocket for accessories. The insulation and padding are both excellent and the exterior construction is just as impressive. The forest green canvas is durable and we love the chocolate brown trim. There’s also a monogrammable leather hang tag in case you’d like to personalize it.

8. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Leather Wine Bag: $300

For a 6-bottle tote that doesn’t look like a standard wine carrier, Wine Enthusiast offers this gorgeous leather weekend bag. It’s much more expensive than a simple canvas carrier, but you won’t find a classier wine travel bag. It’s 100% handcrafted and the attention to detail is apparent in all aspects of the bag, both inside and out. It holds up to six bottles upright, separated with padded dividers, and has an outer pocket for small accessories. It’s the perfect bag to accompany you on that train trip through wine country you’ve always dreamt of.

9. Wine Wings Wine Bottle Protector Sleeve: $20 for 4

Planning a longer journey? If you’re traveling by plane, Wine Wings are an inexpensive way to safely pack your wine. These bags completely seal the wine bottle inside with Ziplocks and velcro to keep any leaks contained. The bags are also padded internally with bubble-wrap and have a stronger exterior to prevent piercing by other items in your bag. They’re durable and reusable, so investing in these means your only worry will be keeping your suitcase under the weight limit.

10. VinGardeValise 12-Bottle Wine Travel Suitcase: $209

Finally planning that wine vacation through Europe and plan to bring a lot of bottles home? VinGardeValise makes suitcases specifically designed to keep your wine safe during its journey. This suitcase holds 12 bottles and weighs between 43 and 49 lbs when filled to capacity. This keeps it safely under the checked bag weight limit for most airlines, though be sure to doublecheck when you buy your tickets. The suitcase meets TSA, FAA, and airline luggage standards and is a sturdy piece of luggage, as well. It has double channel zippers, a reinforced internal frame, and wheels that spin 360 degrees for easy mobility. We also love that it has a TSA-compliant lock to keep the wine even more secure.

 

Québec City, Week 1

Chateau Frontenac

Our first week in Ville de Québec has drawn to a close. Fortunately, we still have a few more weeks to enjoy this enchanting city! There is so much to see and do here, and it is very interesting learning about North American history from both a Canadian and a French perspective. The food has been outstanding! We’ve saved money by hitting the Super Marché for groceries and dining in for many meals, but we’ve enjoyed a number of fine restaurant meals, as well. I’ve been surprised by the culinary diversity. Beyond the expected French cuisine, there are several Irish pubs, Italian Ristorantes, Chinese, Greek, and even a few Mexican cantinas. Our first full day here, we stopped for lunch at one of the Irish pubs, were I had an Irish-Canadian fusion of a pulled-pork sandwich over poutine, all smothered with a whiskey gravy. It was decadently delicious! Another day I had the best French onion soup I’ve ever tasted – savory and light; not over-salted like so many I’ve had in the U.S. Perhaps the topper of the week, however, was last night’s Duck Confit Burger! Yum! Tender chunks of duck, with shredded pickled beets, topped with a soft poppy seed bun, with an enormous side of fries. It’s all I’d hoped it would be!

After a bit of a rocky start in the wine department, we enjoyed a Québécois wine that I found at the local farmer’s market, as well as some amazing ice wines and ciders. I also braved a sample of a locally produced tomato wine. Yes, tomato wine. In addition, between restaurants and the SAQ store down the street, we’ve taken advantage of the huge selection of fine French wines. Not unlike many states in the U.S., wine and liquor sales in Québec are regulated by the government liquor board. Although they do sell wine in grocery stores, frankly it’s not anything you want to drink. For the good stuff, you must head to the local SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) store. Nevertheless, they do have a wide selection, and with the favorable U.S. exchange rate, the prices are pretty reasonable. I reviewed the Québec red wine in my earlier post, Destination: Québec City. Here’s what else we drank during Québec City, Week 1:

Willm Alsace Réserve Pinot Gris 2015

Willm PG

Rich, golden color in the glass. There are aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, ripe apricot and peach, and a hint of elderflower on the finish. Light and tasty, with mild acidity making it a great evening sipper.

Paired well with dinner of Roasted Chicken Thighs and Gold Potatoes.

4.0 Stars (88-91 points)

SAQ Store, $17.80 CAD (approx. $13.93 USD)

Château Eugénie Chateau Eugenie Tradition Cahors 2012

Chateau Eugenie

Dry and medium bodied. Raspberry and red currant, with fresh acidity. Finish is red fruit with a hint of licorice spice. Great with my Croque Monsieur and my wife’s Burger la Parisian.

4.5 Stars (92-94 points)

Chez Jules, $20 CAD for a 375 ml carafe (approx. $15.58 USD)

Albert Bichot Chablis 2014

Chablis

Light straw color. Initial aromas of green apple and pineapple. Very well balanced, with medium mouthfeel and bright acidity. No one flavor dominates, but is a blend of pineapple, white grapefruit, lemon, and pear. These flavors linger with a zesty and invigorating finish.

A nice complement to a ground turkey casserole and green salad.

4.0 Stars (88-91 points)

SAQ Store, $22.50 CAD (approx.. $17.60 USD)

Note: This was actually my first Chablis. We are not big Chardonnay fans, but we have recently been enjoying unoaked Chardonnay, in the Chablis style. We are now big fans of Chablis!

Vignoble Le Nordet Vendanges Oubliées En Rosé 2012

Rose Ice Wine

Ice Wine from a Québec producer. Delightful! Rich dessert wine with ample sweetness, and light raspberry and strawberry notes. Beautiful pink color, and pleasant mouthfeel.

4.0 Stars (88-91 points)

Marché Du Vieux-Port Farmer’s Market, $29 CAD for a 200 ml bottle (approx. $22.60 USD)

Domaine de la Bergerie Yves Guégniard La Cerisaie 2014 (Anjou)

La Cerisaie

Deep purple color. Black currant and blackberry, with woody notes. Quite dry, with good acidity for food pairing. Smoky-berry finish. A very nice accompaniment to my duck confit burger.

3.5 Stars (85-87 points)

Chez Victor, $9.75 CAD per glass (approx. $7.60 USD)

And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Tomato Wine!

Omerto Vin Apéritif de Tomate

Tomato Wine

Tomato wine. Yup. Wine made from tomatoes. Very much like sake in that it is bone dry and has a neutral flavor, with just a hint of sweetness and vegetal notes. 16% ABV. This was drier Sec style. They also make a Demi-Sec, as well as one aged in acacia barrels and one in cherry and chestnut barrels. I only tasted the Sec. Interesting to try, but not something I’d drink often.

3.0 Stars (82-84 points)

Marché Du Vieux-Port Farmer’s Market, $24 CAD (approx. $18.71 USD)

There’s more to come in the next few weeks! Stay tuned!

Where to This Time? #MWWC25

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

After following the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge for a few months, I have decided it’s finally time to put myself out there submit an entry. Last month’s winner, Loie of Cheap Wine Curious, (a blog after my own heart!) selected the topic for #MWWC25: Travel. So let’s get this show on the road!

Travel

Ah, the allure of travel. Jetting off to exotic lands; experiencing new and exciting cultures; visiting famous sites and landmarks. TSA lines. Lost luggage. Jet lag. Yes, travel is an adventure! Yet travel can mean more than international destinations, as enticing and fun as those are. We can jump in the car, and travel to nearby locales to explore what our own backyards have to offer. If you are fortunate enough to live near a wine region, day trips can be very rewarding, and time well spent. Besides being easier and less expensive, local excursions eliminate the stress and bother of figuring out how to transport all that newly purchased wine home!

I have the good fortune to live in Northern California, near Sacramento, where I am practically surrounded by some of the most famous wine regions in the world. In 30 to 90 minutes, I can travel by car to the Sierra Foothills, Clarksburg, Lodi, Napa, or Sonoma.

If it weren’t for my pesky day job, I’d spend a lot more time exploring the hundreds of fantastic wineries that are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. And living so close to such popular destinations means that I get to meet wine-loving friends, who I’d only otherwise know via social media, when they travel to the area! (If any of my fellow bloggers are planning trips to the area, and are interested in meeting, let me know!)

Of course, California isn’t the only place in the U.S. where great wine is made. In the various blogs and articles I read, I’ve been seeing a lot of information about the wines coming out of Virginia, New York, Texas, and other areas. If there are no wineries near where you live, let your fingers do the walking…to Google or your favorite search engine…and find wine events nearby. Festivals, tastings, and classes are all fun ways to incorporate a little local travel into your wine journey.

Still, many wine lovers dream of sojourns to their favorite wine regions. I long to travel to the great wine regions of Europe: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Tuscany, Piedmont, Rioja, and so many more. I dream of walking the vineyards, seeing the beautiful châteaux and estates, and tasting the world famous wines. Travel allows us to experience other cultures and meet amazing people. It brings perspective to this small world of ours.

The topic for this month’s MWWC is especially timely, if a little premature for me. In just a couple of weeks, my wife and I will travel to Quebec City, Canada for an extended stay. Although not among the more famous wine destinations, there are several wineries in the area, worthy of a day trip or two. As it happens, I enjoy seeking out lesser known wine regions, so this will be a great opportunity to do just that. We’ll immerse ourselves in this French provincial city for several weeks; sightseeing, shopping, and of course enjoying local wine and food.

Route Des Vins

More than 400 years old, Quebec City is the oldest walled city in North America, and the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. With its Old World charm, and French history and language, Quebec City is sometimes referred to as the Paris of North America.

While I’m struggling to learn a little French, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in a new culture, experiencing history come alive, and of course sampling some amazing French cuisine and wine. I’ve already scoped out the website of the major wine shop in town, and as expected, they have an incredible selection of French wine. And would you believe there is a Bistro near the condo we’re renting that serves a duck confit burger?! Ç’est magnifique!

So although I may have had more fodder for a blog post about travel after our trip, preparing and writing this post has been a great opportunity to think ahead to all the amazing things we’re planning to do and see. I plan to blog while we’re in Canada, including reviews of the new wines I anticipate trying; French, Canadian and others. Watch this space during June if you would like to follow along on my journey. (Yes, I’ll be sure to post a picture of that duck confit burger!)

Salt and PepperTravel adds spice to life, whether it is a quick, Chinese-Five-Spice-Powdersalt-and-pepper day trip, or an exotic five-spice adventure to a distant land. Travel enables us to get out, see the sights, meet new people, and generally and literally broaden our horizons. Near or far; relaxing or intense; whether by train, plane, automobile, or bicycle, get out there and experience what the world has to offer! Where will you go today?

Santé!

Takeoff