I’m the type of person who likes to bring back some local flavors when I travel. I mean bottled wine, whether it’s wine from Italy or whiskey from Ireland.
It used to be that getting my cargo home safely meant casually wrapping the bottles in a T-shirt, stuffing them in checked luggage, and hoping for the best. But then I discovered the VinGardeValise Grande suitcase, which is designed for traveling safely and conveniently with a big stack of drinks.
I ordered one immediately before a trip to Ireland to test it.
This checked luggage is a must-have for those who like to take home wine or other spirits with them. We found it very easy to pack and lightweight (even with six bottles), and it kept our bottles safe during the transatlantic flight.
Featuring 12 foam inserts, the Grande suitcase is game-changing for wine and spirits connoisseurs. Shaped like a traditional 750ml wine bottle, they can accommodate any shape bottle. In our tests, three whiskeys, a bottle of wine, a bottle of gin, and a bottle of olive oil (all part of a balanced travel diet, of course) were easy but tight paste. The inserts—and the top foam panel that lays flat on top of the bottle, then secures with straps—are designed to keep your bottle safe and secure, and they did a great job during our travels.
Most impressively, during our seven-hour transatlantic flight (and the usual littering by the baggage handlers), not a single bottle of wine was left untouched. It’s a far cry from my old rolling and folding method of packing bottles, which ended up with all my finds bumping into each other on the bottom of the suitcase.
The exterior of the VinGardeValise also proved to be durable, although it was generally not as scratch-resistant as the Away bag my traveling companion brought. After towing it twice overseas and through two busy airports, it only showed some scuffs on the corner guards – but no scuffs on the face.
One of my biggest concerns is that with half the suitcase dedicated to wine bottles, I can’t fit much else. As a chronic overpacker (four nights? Of course I need 14 pairs of boxer briefs!), I’m sure I need another checked bag.
I remove six inserts from half of the bag so I can hold my clothes.Using all 12 inserts that come with the Grande bag means you only use the bag for bottles, which for me is a small amount extreme. I managed to restrain myself, but even with half the box dedicated to bottles, I still managed to pack enough clothes for two weeks of cold and rainy weather in Ireland—a Barbour jacket, a fleece jacket, six Heavy sweaters, five pairs of pants, a few shirts, and other miscellaneous items. However, I did have to stuff my extra pair of shoes into my carry-on.
it’s very easy to handle
Unpacked, the suitcase weighs 14 lbs. Compared to two of the best hard-shell checked bags we’ve tested, the Away Medium and the Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner, which weigh 9.9 pounds and 8.48 pounds, respectively, I worry that the bag could easily exceed the airline’s weight limit.
But even stuffed with six bottles and two weeks’ worth of clothes, the packed bag weighs just 45 pounds (20 kilograms), well below most airlines’ 50-pound limit. So my worries about paying extra were allayed. In comparison, my traveling companion’s The Away Large checked bag weighed 11.6 pounds empty, with more clothes and three pairs of shoes (and a few odds and ends), and ours weighed 50 pounds. travel. So while the larger Away is roomier and we could fit more clothes in it, it ended up being a bit of a hassle to lug around — and easier to overpack and add excess baggage fees to.
handle too short
That’s nitpicking, of course, but a big downside — especially for people with long legs — is that the telescoping handles are shorter than the handles of our favorite checked bags. It didn’t extend to the handles used on the Away Medium Bag or the Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner Bag, which was noticeable as we walked through the airport.
As I drag the bag behind me, I find myself kicking it with my heel more often than I’d like. So, I resorted to rolling VinGardeValise on my side to avoid doing this.
Obviously, not everyone wants to take home a few bottles from their destination. While we love almost everything about this bag, if you don’t agree with us, there’s a bag that’s just right for you. For general travel, we recommend the Away Medium or the Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner.
While the VinGardeValise is durable, relatively lightweight and holds everything you need, compared to the $345 Away Medium and the $180 Samsonite Freeform, you’re paying unnecessary extra if you’re not using it for wine .
VinGardeValise is primarily aimed at travelers who wish to take their wine and other bottles with them. Therefore, it is difficult to make like-for-like comparisons with other luggage.
What’s more, if you have another suitcase you love and want to keep, you can buy the VinGardeValise insert separately to turn it into a wine protection expert. We have to mention that we believe the overall sturdiness of the VinGardeValise (not just the insert, but also the heavy duty corner guards and solid shell) helps to provide full protection against the bottle moving or breaking.
Comparing the VinGardeValise as an everyday suitcase, we did find it had less surface wear than the Away bag, and felt more high-end and reliable than the Samsonite, which felt less expensive.
VinGardeValise is a smart choice for anyone who likes to bring back bottles from travel destinations. It keeps the bottle comfortable and protected throughout the travel experience, while also proving to be incredibly packable and lightweight.
If you’re not a wine or spirits connoisseur and just need a plain, tried and tested piece of checked luggage, we’ll guide you through the Away Medium or Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner.
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