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27. What you need to know about auctioning wine

By Craig MacPhee

Auctioning Wine

Image credit: Barossa.com

If you haven’t done it before, the idea of auctioning wine can seem a little daunting. However, it is actually a pretty simple and easy process and can be a great option if you find yourself with too much of a particular wine or your taste in wine has changed.

Of course, this does depend on a number of factors. The secondary market is quite strong for popular iconic wines and those often purchased with the purpose of cellaring, for example Penfolds 389, Rockford or wines with a global demand such as quality Burgundy and Bordeaux. Keep in mind that provenance (a record of its origin and authenticity) along with proof that it been cellared in ideal conditions and at 14°C +/- 1°C is highly desirable. For lesser wines you may struggle to get what you paid for them years ago.

So what’s the difference between various auction houses and exchanges? An auction has an end date so you are likely to get a quicker result. Exchanges list wines for sale and this tends to take much longer to transact. It is a function of price though so it will depend on your expectation regarding this. If you decide on an auction, insist on setting reserves for your wines to avoid them selling too cheaply. It might take several auctions so try and be patient.

Most of the following auction houses have online tools to give you approximate price ranges or will do a valuation for you.

Here are some of them:

  • Langtons – founded by Stewart Langton and now owned by Woolworths (National)
  • Graysonline – tends to sell lower end volume wines (National)
  • MW Wine Auctions (Victoria)
  • Wickman’s Fine Wine Auctions (SA)
  • Oddbins Wine Auctions (SA)
  • Sterling Wine Auctions (WA)

Some are better suited to certain wines / people so feel free to ask us for advice. Often we can help you achieve a better rate too. Typically it’s 10-15% of the sale price and some freight costs to get it to them depending on where you are.

Buying wine at auction can also be an attractive option but has some risks…. a topic for another time!

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