A not so dumb question about liquor laws

I have a problem and I can’t seem to find a good answer anywhere:

I love grappa. Good stuff, and thoroughly unappreciated. There is one kind in particular that I have a liking for and would like to buy a few bottles of: Grappa di Montiano produced by Falesco (in Lazio I believe).

So here’s the problem: I have never been able to find this grappa in Colorado. Doing web searches I see it has been sold in Germany and Japan, but no mention of this brand of grappa on any US sites. I contacted the owner of my local liquor store to see if he could get it with no success; his grappa/Italian wine dealer did not import it (though he does import Falesco wines). So I decided to ask the smartest people I know of: Dopers.

I would like to personally import a case of this for my own personal consumption. I don’t want to sell it. Hell, I don’t even really want to share it. Can I legally import it for my own use? Hell what about wine? If I wanted to buy a bottle of wine from France or Australia, could I buy that? If not, are there any organizations that will import it for me with (I would imagine) a substantial markup? Where can I find an organization like this since my local liquor store’s Italian wine dealer wanted nothing to do with such a small order.

I found this site, but it didn’t answer these questions to my satisfaction. I also found this thread which reinforced my opinion that some the smartest people on the planet post to this site.

Thanks for any help…

Assuming that by import it yourself, you mean travel to Italy and bring it back with you then you can do this. US customs allows up to 1 liter of alcoholic beverages to be imported duty free. The remaining liquor is subject to duty and federal IRS tax. Shouldn’t be a problem. I have done this while returning from the Virgin Islands myself.


On the other hand, if you just went that you wanted it shipped to you from Europe, that may be possible too except that even Google has a hard to finding any reference to this stuff. Here are the search results.


Only one of the five references is in English. Are you sure that is the right name or they even still make this stuff?

I am sure that this stuff is available and actually have someone in Italy that can either buy it for me and ship it or put me in touch with the producer (they live only a couple of miles away). Every time we visit each other we always do a swap, we give them things that are hard to buy in Italy (including socks and underwear believe it or not!) and they give us grappa, amarone (Yum!), salt packed capers, pesto, etc… Traveling to Italy from the states (or vice-versa) is expensive and we don’t do it as often as we would like. It would be much easier just to buy a case of the grappa and have it shipped over. This way our luggage could be freed up for more delicacies (more amarone! Yeah baby!).

Can she legally ship me a case of this stuff?

This isn’t directly helpful, but if it is legal, it can’t be sent via the US Postal Service as they cannot legally ship alcohol. My husband is a letter carrier for the USPS, and I know that after a package in their back room area was found to be leaking wine, they had to also report it to the postal inspectors. She would have to ship it via another carrier - I think UPS ships alcohol, for instance.

Thanks Ferret Herder (wouldn’t want this job BTW), I was thinking about Fedex. If I sent it normal post, the Italian Postal Service would probably drink it. They typically open all packages and if the stuff is good enough it gets lost (I’m not kidding!). Sending stuff to Italy via normal post really bites. You put the value of the goods on the form for the insurance value, and the Italian customs agents will charge the recipient this amount to release the package from customs. No offense to anyone, but I think that Italy is the most corrupt country in the EU by far. I’d say the world, but I’ve heard stories that Russia and the old eastern bloc counties are worse.

Sorry kids, but according to the ATF you’re violating import laws by not having an alcohol import license, as well as not paying taxes on the liquor. IDK what the penalties would be for something as small as a single case of grappa, but it seems frowned upon none the less.

Waaah. I was beginning to suspect this was the case, but now I am sad. According to the above Colorado sit in my OP, I can only import liquor to sell to a wholeseller, not to consume (this seems stupid to me).

So does anybody know of a custom liquor importer that will take orders as small as a case? Does such a thing exist?


Anyway, I could get get a importers license. Any wholesellers out there want to buy some grappa? You could sell it back to me…

Would this be legal?

Did you read your link?

Bolding mine. If you’re not planning on reselling it, those laws don’t apply to you. A friend of mine had a buddy who went to Spain for a month a few years ago, and his buddy found out that it was legal for him to ship back a bottle a day for personal use, so every day, he went to the post office and had a bottle shipped back to the States. The laws may have changed since then, or might be different for Spanish wines than they are for Italian wines, I don’t know.

Or you can just to a big liqour srote in Denver and get some other brand of grappa. :smack:

It’s grappa, for Og’s sake! The stuff is available freaking everywhere in California, and it all tastes the same. It’s not like it’s made from the choicest ingredients.

Have you checked with the Argo in Denver? In my experience they are very good about importing what you want, If they possibly can.

hopefully this will go to their online site.(and kiddies no shopping unless you are 21:))

Another thing you need to check on is if it’s legal in your state to have alcoholic beverages shipped to you. Here in TN, it’s illegal, but that’s not true of other states.

Here’s Colorado’s status on alcohol shipments, summarized:

Status: Reciprocal (initial on-site sale required, with permit); 2 cases per month.

Summary: Reciprocal status provided for orders made in person at the licensed premises of the alcoholic beverage licensee. An individual may bring in, or receive by direct shipment, up to two cases of wine per month for private use and consumption from states affording Colorado the same reciprocal privilege.

You can find a little more info here.

Given that, I think locating some grappa in CA or NY, either the brand you are looking for or otherwise, and have it shipped to a facility with an ABL.

Is this new or has it always been the case? I shipped some homebrew from Illinois to Montana in '94. When I mailed it at the post office, I told the cashier what it was and she said to make sure it was packed well. Turned out it wasn’t and a few bottles broke in Billings. The USPS cleaned it up, called me on the phone to tell me what happened, and then delivered the remaining bottles.

Thanks psycat, this is exactly the kind of information I need… Thank you also Tuckerfan and wolfman.

Regarding Argonaut, I do shop there occasionally (they are only 10 minutes away), but my regular liquor store’s (which actually carries more grappa) distributor refusal to import it stopped me dead in my tracks. I suppose trying to special order it through Argonaut, or even Applewood, could save me some labor and heartache.

Bzzzzzzt… Wrong answer. Does Bud taste like Guiness? What about a crappy white zinfindel next to a good Renwood Zin, do they taste the same? Or for a more acurate analogy, does an 18 year old Macallan single malt taste the same as Jack Daniels?

BTW, I have tried many US grappas and they all stink, maybe this is what you are refering to.

That’s Applejack–my personal favorite. I was going to recommend you give them a call and ask. I’ve ordered special items from them in the past.

As far as I know, it’s been the case for a long time, and is actually federal law. Here’s the relevant postal regulation. Scroll down to “422.1 Nonmailable Matter, 422.11 Intoxicating Liquors.”

I can’t say that I know why they didn’t hassle you, unless you just got lucky and encountered people who didn’t feel like giving you grief over a little homebrew. (I’m a homebrewer myself, and as far as I can tell, it’s OK to ship via UPS.) After the terrorism and anthrax incidents, they’re probably much more strict in enforcement overall.


I knew that… Great store, a little out of my way though worth the trip most of the time.

Thank you Ferret Herder for finding that code. I think you are right on about them just being nice.