We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
We have done reviews of products previously which claim to help protect your wine while traveling. Now it’s time for the ultimate travel product, a wine suitcase. VinGardeValise has been getting rave reviews for their wine suitcase that holds up to 12 bottles of wine. The product we reviewed is the VinGardeValise Petite which holds up to 8 bottles of wine. The suitcases are very similar with the primary difference being the size. Both the VinGardeValise Grande 04 and VinGardeValise Petite suitcases fit under the 50 pound airline limit when full.
As mentioned, the Petite suitcase holds up to eight 750ml bottles of wine and costs $199.99. The first thing you notice about the wine suitcase is it looks like a regular suitcase. I have seen photos of another popular case which is actually a bag that covers a case of wine, but on the outside of the bag it is labeled Wine. I sure hope I am the first one that sees that case coming down the baggage claim carousel!
The Petite wine suitcase has a polycarbonate shell case with a luggage strap on the outside to keep it closed above and beyond the large and strong zippers. There are double grip handles on the top of the suitcase when standing upright and on the side when the suitcase is on its side. The handles are hard and being double, I’m glad the suitcase is a spinner with a carrying handle, because I do not think it would be too comfortable carrying the suitcase for any length of time.
Opening the suitcase presents two zippered pockets where different items can be stored along with a special pocket for a Trakdot luggage tracker. I had not heard of one before but it is a device that you can put inside your suitcase and it will report to your phone exactly where your suitcase is. This is perfect, especially for a wine suitcase, but I would love to know whenever I arrive at my destination airport that my suitcase made it too.
Unzipping the two sides of the suitcase reveals a large foam piece with two straps securing the wine even more. After removing the foam piece, there are two foam insert cocoons on a side which hold a maximum of four bottles. If you are not carrying that many bottles, you can remove a foam insert to make room for clothes or anything else.
I do not know if it is by design or a mistake in the Petite I received, but one bottom side of the two foam inserts against the outside of the suitcase had a large foam piece like the top and the other side did not. I would assume there should be a piece on each side. The modular design of the foam will let you carry two to eight bottles of wine. Update: We were told the design of the suitcase is that way because no foam piece is needed on both sides due to the carrying handle.
Each cocoon foam pocket can be slightly adjusted to hold almost any size bottle you need to carry from large Syrah bottles to Burgundy shaped bottles. The first few times you insert the bottles, you may have to work a little to get the bottles in tightly, but it should loosen up after a few uses. The good thing is you want to make sure the wine is securely snug anyway to avoid breakage, so struggling a little bit to get the bottles in is not an issue.
If you have a taller bottle, there is a foam plug that can be removed from each pocket to allow the taller bottle to be seated. VinGardeValise recommends to put the foam plug in the punt of the bottle so it is not lost, but not every tall bottle I used had a large enough punt to hold the foam plug. It is a good thing there are inside pockets in the suitcase to hold the extra plugs, or along the side of some pockets is a thumb hole to help remove the bottle and the foam plug could squeeze in there too.
In each cocoon there is one pocket that has two foam pieces that would be located at the top of the bottle at the base of the neck. These can be removed if needed to again make the bottle fit better and could be moved to another pocket for those that may need more support.
We had one tall bottle the size of a Riesling bottle, and unfortunately it would not fit in the cocoon’s pocket no matter how hard we tried. When we compared the bottle’s length with the top of the cocoon, there is about a ¼ inch of space on each end which explains why it would not fit. Perhaps the 12 bottle VinGardeValise would be able to handle this taller bottle, but not the Petite. Don’t take too many trips to Germany or the Finger Lakes. Update: The VinGardeValise Grande 04 12 bottle suitcase does handle taller bottles.
After packing up the suitcase with wine bottles, we had one more test. We have reviewed other products by tossing them on the floor to ensure the bottle did not break. VinGardeValise has a video of owner Barry Wax tossing the wine suitcase down flights of stairs with no damage.
I REALLY wanted to do the same thing, but could not easily find a flight of stairs near where we lived. Instead we settled for our sloping sidewalk. We rolled the suitcase down the sidewalk and let it fall over the curb into the road. We did this a few times until the suitcase fell on its flat side. The outside case received some scratches, and I’m sure we did enough damage that would have been normal (maybe?) in airline handling, so we carefully opened up the suitcase. Other than some bubbles in the wine after being shaken up, there was no damage to any bottle. You can find our video here on the website.
Reading through the VinGardeValise website, there are inserts you can replace in the large VinGardeValise Grande 04 to hold bottles like magnums or wine glasses, but it does not appear there are any replacements yet for the Petite.
Would I recommend the VinGardeValise Petite? If I was traveling to wine regions where I would expect to bring back wine, absolutely! Since the Petite has to be checked as baggage because of the wine anyway, I would probably spend the extra money to purchase the larger VinGardeValise Grande 04 just to be able to carry more wine and to allow more room for non-wine space. But if you prefer a smaller suitcase to handle, the VinGardeValise Petite will certainly do the job nicely!