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Bringing wine back from Israel through US Customs

If you are like me, when you are on vacation and walk into a wine shop, you have eyes larger than your luggage has space. You see Israel is clearly improving its export to other countries, especially America, but many of the best wines are sold behind the rock walls of Israel. Israel sadly, is easily consuming its best wines, and blessedly its worst as well. That leaves wines ranging from the middle to the upper echelon finding their way to the US shores, at a slow and sometimes infuriating pace. Still, we are happy and feel lucky to see them, no matter the timing, unless they are mevushal, but that is for another posting.

Sure enough, I could barely fit the wines I bought, throughout my travels around Israel, into my luggage. So I thought I would share a few points of concern, counterpoint, and solutions to the many issues that revolve around US customs and alcohol, of any sort.

The main topics are:

  1. How to pack the wine
  2. Country of origin duty (tax)
  3. Country of destination duty
  4. Country of destination customs laws
  5. State of country of destination’s import laws
  6. Pad your layover times if you have connecting flight in the US

What I thought I would do is go through the list of perceived and actual issues listed above, and describe what I do to be a legal law-abiding citizen of the United States, while also successfully bringing in wine that I adore (I hope).

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