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Jan 19, 2008 08:02 AM

Selling Wine in Online Auctions: any experiences?

I buy most of my wine vineyard-direct and I'm afraid my addiction has gotten out of hand. My cellar now contains wine I can't possibly drink in this lifetime and I'd like to thin out my holdings. Does anyone have any personal experience selling individual bottles or small lots through any online auction sites? I have about 50 bottles of California and Washington State wines, many highly-rated, purchased from small producers. I'd like not to take a financial drubbing on them (most are in the $25-50 price range).

If you've sold wine online, share your experiences, particularly with specific site's commissions, prices realized, reliability of getting paid, method of shipment, etc.

thanks in advance!

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  1. I suggest that you try to familiarize yourself with alcohol shipping laws, etc., before doing this. I think you might also find that UPS, etc., may not ship your wine unless you declare it as something else.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ibstatguy

      Both FedEx and UPS permit alcohol shipments. The shipment must be marked as containing alcohol and there is an additional fee for "adult signature only" option.

      Thousands of wine collectors are selling their wines through online auctions.
      We're not talking about eBay, which does not permit sale of alcohol on its site.

      1. re: famdoc

        Ebay does permit sale of wine, albeit with quite a few restrictions. But it doesn't sound like it's worth the trouble to you of becoming a pre-approved seller.

        I don't have any experience buying or selling wines through online auctions. However, a familiar acquaintance here in NY does acquire and move inventory for various auction houses. From my chats with him, with few exceptions, most of the wines he's involved with are trophy Old World wines: Sassicaia, JL Chave Hermitage, d'Yquem, etc. Every once in awhile, a New World wine will pop up, but these again are more collectors' items on the order of Clarendon Astralis, the Napa cult cabernets. Granted, this may be a reflection of his niche in the field, but I don't think this is the exception to the rule. I believe Zin had mentioned in another thread that there is not much of a secondary market for the wines you're looking to sell. Maybe he can chime in.

        Given the price range and the inventory size of your wines, I think it might be a good idea to consider consignment of these wines to a local wine merchant.

        1. re: mengathon

          For some reason a post I thought I had made isn't here anymore, but in my limited experience w/ online sales I'd say the same thing - the online market appears to be generally most robust for collectors' items - bdx, cult CA cab, super-highly allocated CA pinot (Kosta Browne, Sea Smoke), but not nearly as strong for highly-rated small-production wines like you describe (unless, as noted above, very limited allocations available to mailing list customers only, etc.)

          As for consigning through a local wine merchant, this may also present legal difficulties depending on where you are, as if you're in a three-tier state I believe a retailer can only (legally) sell wine that it has acquired through a distributor. To put a more fine point on it, perhaps your local wine merchant can help "broker" a sale between yourself and another private wine-lover of legal drinking age who may be interested in your wine.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            Thanks, frodnesor. You're probably right; I'll hold on to them and hope I'll get to enjoy all of them in my lifetime.
            However, some of the bottles I'd like to sell are highly allocated CA those cases, which site would you use?

   is filled with offers for such wines with no bids. Seems as if supply far outstrips demand there.

            1. re: famdoc

              I have very little experience but had tried once with similar results.

              1. re: famdoc

                Famdoc, if you decide to sell through a local retailer, I'd give Acker, Merrall & Condit a call. They're located on the UWS of Manhattan and they sell many collectible wines, including some California ones, via their store and periodic auctions. I've never sold anything through them, but I've bought a few wines that were previously held in private cellars.


          2. re: famdoc

            In order to ship via Fed-Ex or UPS, you have to register with them and provide them with a license from your state's Alcohol Bureau. So, unless you have a license, it's basically not legal for you to sell or ship -- though tons of people do it.