WineHug provides safe passage for air traveler with wine bottle

By on December 13, 2014
WineHug offers protection for bottles and comes in a variety of sizes and colors. (Photo courtesy of

WineHug offers protection for bottles and comes in a variety of sizes and colors. (Photo courtesy of

RICHLAND, Wash. — A recent assignment took me to Sicily, but before leaving the USA, the woman to whom I’m related by marriage made a simple request.

“Bring back a bottle of Italian olive oil,” she ordered.

So I packed my WineHug Sport, a self-inflating protective travel pouch. It’s one of the few wine-related items I’ve reached into my pocket for in the past few years.

Before leaving Sicily, I purchased a bottle of Diodoros, extra-virgin olive oil made from historic groves at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

That was followed by a pleasant complication — a gifted jar of lemon marmalade.

Security made it impossible to bring either into the cabin of the aircraft because of the liquid restrictions, so the vessels needed to be packed in my checked luggage.

Had I brought a different type of bottle protection, there might have been the temptation to leave the jar of preserves behind. Fortunately, the WineHug proved flexible and wide enough to accommodate both the jar and the bottle.

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I’ve used a variety of travel bags, including neoprene and those that involve adhesives, but the WineHug is easy to use — and re-use. Its self-inflating action, similar to the Seattle-made Therm-a-Rest camping mattress embraced by backpackers, provides precise protection. And there’s no need to put your lips on a blow tube.

An additional feature is the Velcro center strap that forms a handle, allowing it to be used as a tote.

WineHugSport retails for $19.95

WineHug's self-inflating design provides protection for bottles in checked luggage. (Photo courtesy of

WineHug’s self-inflating design provides protection for bottles in checked luggage. (Photo courtesy of

BlueSkyLab produces three versions, the WineHug Sport ($19.95), the WineHug Smart ($24.95) and the WineHug Twin ($29.95). They come in a suede-like black fabric as well as the rip-stop nylon in either black or orange.

One downside to using the WineHug over less-expensive, clear plastic alternatives would be the worst-case scenario. If the bottle breaks, there’s no extra layer of protection.

WineHug received its first Wine Enthusiast customer review in 2009, followed by in 2010. A year later, the folks at endorsed the WineHug.

BlueSkyLab, based in Quincy, Mass., can customize the WineHug. That would make it ideal for a business emblazon the WineHug with its company logo for gifts to clients, customers or employees. They’d also be something to sell in winery tasting rooms or present as a wedding gift.

I made it home with my prized bottle of Diodoros, which I picked up during the first leg of that business trip to Europe. That meant it survived baggage handlers in Palermo, Rome, Brindisi, Venice, Amsterdam, Seattle and Spokane.

Mourad Chaouch, WineHug co-founder, told, “The Italians are reputed to be the worst (baggage handlers). I can vouch for that.”

The next time I travel to Sicily, I’ll pack the WineHug Twin to accommodate a bottle of CVA Canicatti Aquilae Nero d’Avola and a bottle of olive oil.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

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