The real cost of shipping wine

What you should know about shipping wine

The cost of shipping wine is significant. This page breaks down all the associated costs that add up to big delivery fees and how smart wine shoppers can avoid them altogether.

FYI: I find great wine deals so you don’t have to. To keep me on the hunt, I earn a commission when you buy wine based on my recommendations.

How much does it cost to ship wine?

Many factors come into play when figuring out how much it costs to ship wine, but on average it costs $60-80 (or $5-7 per bottle) to ship a case of wine from coast to coast in the United States. Many online wine stores subsidize the cost of shipping, charging customers anywhere from nothing to $25 to ship a case of wine. Wineries frequently pass the whole cost of shipping onto customers, whereas retailers often discount the cost of shipping for case purchases.

The actual shipping costs increase depending on whether the destination is a business or a home, how heavy the actual bottles are, how big the box is, and what kind of discounted rates the company has negotiated with the shippers.

Why does it cost so much to ship wine?

There are many reasons why it costs a lot to ship wine. Here are a bunch that are determined by the shipper: small shipments of wine are heavy for their size and large shipments of wine are bulky; adult signatures are required and incur an additional fee of $4-6 per delivery; residential delivery results in more delivery attempts, so the shippers charge more for it; rural delivery involves more driving per package delivered so it costs more; gasoline keeps getting more expensive; premium retailers and wineries sometimes offer climate-controlled shipping which also costs more.

There are additional costs associated with shipping for the company selling you the wine:

  1. Purchasing shipping materials like boxes and protection for the wine bottles.
  2. Packing the bottles into the boxes and preparing them for shipping is a labor cost.
  3. Paying a delivery service to manage deliveries for them (though often these services get such great shipping rates this ends up being a wash for the customer).

More reasons shipping costs vary

How far the wine has to travel has a lot to do with actual shipping costs. Most of the wine produced in the U.S. ships from the west coast, mostly California. And much of the wine imported from Europe is warehoused on the east coast, in places like New Jersey. Some wine clubs choose warehouses in the midwest to keep costs roughly equal as wine gets shipped to each coast.

Shipping wine to a home or business impacts the cost, too. FedEx (and most other carriers) charge more to send packages to residential addresses as opposed to business addresses. When you deliver to an office during business hours, you drop off the package, get a signature, and you’re done. When you deliver to a residence, a wine shipment which requires an adult signature and can’t be left at the door. If no one is home, you have to take the time to leave a notice and attempt redeliver the package. That gets expensive and increasingly, wine stores and wine clubs are passing that additional cost on to the consumer.

Shipment size has a big impact on the cost, too. It doesn't cost twice as much to ship 4 bottles, than 2 bottles, so ordering larger shipments keeps the per bottle shipping cost down.

Additional shipping costs include the Adult Signature Fee Required, a Fuel Surcharge, and a COVID Surcharge (still in use). These shipping charges assume a lighter weight bottle. Heavy bottles cost almost twice as much to ship.

Here are some sample prices of wine shippers and wine shipping rates (as of Jan 25, 2023) to help understand the actual costs of shipping wine (as found on WineShippingBoxes.com and a wine retailer I spoke to):

Box size Cost per box (in bulk, inc. bottle protectors) Cross-country shipping to a residence Minimum cost of ground shipping
2 bottles $2.62 $25.68 $28.30
4 bottles $4.70 $34.20 $38.90
6 bottles $5.15 $45.26 $50.41
12 bottles $7.90 $64.50 $72.40

Want more information about getting wine delivered where you live? Check out my Wine Delivery Guide. It includes information on how interstate wine shipping works in each state and ways to make wine delivery more convenient, like using same-day wine delivery services.

Can I get free shipping on wine?

Yes! Smart shoppers know how to save on wine shipping costs, often avoiding them altogether: try a , get unlimited free shipping with the Stewardship Program at Wine.com (you pre-pay a flat amount like Amazon Prime), or shop this list of wine stores and wine clubs I know about that offer free shipping all the time.

Wine clubs with Always Free Shipping

Wine clubs with some Free Shipping

Wine stores with free shipping deals

Wine stores with nearly free shipping deals

How much does a case of wine weigh?

A case of wine weighs 40 to 60 pounds. Each bottle of wine weights 3 to 5 pounds and there are twelve bottles in a case. The packing materials and box also contribute to the weight — possibly pushing the total weight over 60 lbs.

While the wine inside a bottle always weighs roughly the same amount, the weight of the actual bottles can vary greatly. When a winery chooses their wine bottles, one thing to consider is the weight of those bottles. Premium wineries often choose heavy bottles because it creates a more impressive experience (theoretically). The unfortunate side effect of that is it costs more to ship those heavier bottles. Wineries are now choosing lighter bottles in an effort to improve sustainability.

Can I ship wine myself?

Simply put, no. You cannot ship wine to a friend or to another state via FedEx, UPS, or the USPS. You can only send wine via a licensed third-party, like a winery, a wine store, or a wine of the month club. There are services in wine country licensed to ship wine on behalf of wineries, and they do it for a hefty premium.

  1. It is not legal to ship wine if you are not a licensed retailer or distributor.
  2. It is not legal to ship wine directly to consumers in many states.
  3. It is not legal to ship wine via the USPS.
  4. It is not legal to ship wine into the country without an importer's license.

How to ship wine you bought

If you have already purchased wine and you want to ship it, you are out of luck. Any means you have available to you would be illegal. Unless you can sweet-talk a local wine store or a wine delivery service like the ones in wine country mentioned above.

If you have not already purchased wine to send, hooray! You can buy wine from any licensed retailer and have it shipped. Some local wine stores will ship wine for you, but the easiest way to send wine is to order online, whether through a wine store like Wine.com or a wine of the month club.

Jessyca Frederick

Guide by: Jessyca Frederick

Inspired by frequent questions from friends and family about different wines and wine practices, I write Useful Wine Guides so that people I don’t know might benefit from my knowledge and desire to share information, too.