We tested four wine travel bags made of various types of plastic or neoprene by running them through a series of abuse tests.
Published Sept. 1, 2015. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 17: Elegant Fall Dinner
You can tuck a bottle of wine between soft clothes in a suitcase and hope that it doesn’t break, or you can shield it in a wine travel bag that’s designed to protect bottles on the go. We tested four (priced from about $5.00 to $28.00) made of various types of plastic or neoprene by running them through a series of abuse tests. After loading each model with bottles that were skinny, squat, short, and tall, we dropped them from waist height, packed them in a suitcase and tossed them as an airplane baggage handler might, and rolled them down a flight of stairs. We even flew with them back and forth across the country.
Two of the bags were useless. Bottles stored in the two bags made from thin, lightly cushioned plastic—one lined with something akin to paper towels and the other with bubble wrap—broke in almost every test, and when they did, the glass shards slashed the plastic sides and wine spilled out. The thick cushioned neoprene material of another model looked promising, but its bottles broke, too, and since its sides were open, the wine spilled everywhere. Our winner, an inflatable bag made from thick, durable plastic (inspired by the dry bags that sailors use), was the best of the bunch. You blow it up like a beach ball (when loaded with a bottle, it’s about the size of a loaf of bread), and the air cushions the bottle. We had only one break in this bag—the fifth time we dropped it from waist height onto hard pavement—but even then the heavy-duty plastic kept all the wine contained. It was also the only bag that accommodated taller wine bottles or wider liquor bottles. We’ll be packing one in our luggage from now on.
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