An old map of Bordeaux

How Much Wine can I Bring Back from France?

Times have changed. Britain is no longer a part of the EU and covid has certainly thrown a spanner in the works. Gone are the days of popping to France to fill your boot with as much Champagne and Cognac as you can fit, ferrying back over and throwing a garden party. There was previously no limit on how much wine you could bring in from another EU state, which meant we could escape the heavy UK taxes on alcohol – as long as it was for personal consumption. However, after Brexit, regulations are changing and what was once a no-brainer voyage to Calais will now be a completely different journey.

Our departure from the EU is certainly something to get used to, but all is not lost! Yes, the world looks a little different now than it did before, but we are pleased to announce that there are still ways of enjoying your favourite French tipple. So the real question on everyone's lips is – just how much wine can I bring back from France? We know - there’s other pressing questions on the world list, but we are not ashamed to ask – can we still ‘booze cruise’ to the continent to source more affordable (and sometimes better quality) beverages?

Today there is no need to shoot the messenger because we come bearing good news! Though we can no longer bring in a wedding’s supply of wine all on our own (or a year’s worth of Burgundy- shame), we can still bring back wine from France as well as beer and spirits, just in a less extravagant way.

Here is your personal allowance for bringing back wine:

  • Still Wine : 18 Litres – or in wine speak 24 bottles
  • Sparkling Wine & Fortified Wine: 9 Litres or 12 bottles
  • Spirits: 4 Litres
  • Beer: 42 Litres

The ferries are up and running, though it remains in these uncertain times that there will likely be some extra costs and considerations due to Coronavirus restrictions, though it looks like we are coming to the end of two travel-less years. As long as you have six months validity on your passport you can enter France for up to 90 days without a visa. The temptation to head to the continent to find good-value and artisanal products is completely understandable. Just don’t forget you’ve got Honest Grapes here to source the best wine in France and deliver it to your door!

Ironically, purchasing alcohol in the UK and bringing into the EU is more affordable than ever. You no longer need to pay duty, so if you’re looking to import some Nyetimber or your favourite scrumpy, you’ll get a discount of about £2.50 for a bottle of wine and £11.50 on a bottle of spirit! Perhaps it is time to get that holiday home we’ve been thinking about...

However, if you have long been awaiting that opportunity to head to France for a whistle-stop wine shop, here are our top picks of what to buy while you’re there.

1. Grower Champagne

Also known as Artisan Champagne, these Champagnes are made and bottled by the same house that grew the grapes, whereas the more common names of large Champagne houses blend together grapes grown by sometimes hundreds of different grape growers.

Grower Champagne is a great way to explore the exceptional and varied terroir in the region. Some are rich and fruit-driven, while others are lined with chalky minerality. These bubbles are often more exciting and more intriguing. And why should you get these in France? Well, less than ten percent of imported Champagne is Grower Champagne. The best place to find it is straight from the horse's mouth (A.K.A. France).

If you find yourself in Calais and are in search of one of these delightful creatures, look for the letters RM on the bottle, which stands for “récoltant manipulant”, or those who make the wine with their own grapes. Of course, if in doubt – always just ask!

2. Great Value Burgundy

Here at Honest Grapes we love Burgundy, and it is always first on our list of must-haves whilst in France. Where else in the world can you get such seriously delicious Chardonnay and Pinot Noir? The truth of the matter though, is that Burgundy prices continue to sky-rocket and sometimes in order to discover those hidden gems you need to go straight to the source.

Burgundy is laden with impressive producers whose grapes are grown merely metres away from estates like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Knowing the geography of Burgundy will always aid you in discovering domaines like Honest Grapes favourite Domaine de Montille Les Malconsort (whose grapes are nearly directly next to some of the most expensive vines in the world), but driving through the region or enquiring in wine shops in Paris will always get you the great value buys you’re looking for.

3. Cognac

Lest we forget about Cognac! Purchasing some of this golden elixir in Calais will get you a huge discount in comparison to purchasing in the UK, and you will also have a much larger selection to choose from. The Cognac region is also a delight to visit if you have the time. Located in the southwest of France, north of Bordeaux and south of the Loire Valley, you’re bound to find some impressive brandies from local producers for a fraction of the price you’re used to seeing.

In answer to the question "how much wine can I bring back from France" , you can bring back:

  • Still Wine (Red Wine) : 18 Litres – or in wine speak 24 bottles
  • Sparkling Wine & Fortified Wine: 9 Litres or 12 bottles

We wish you the safest of travels!

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