Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Jul 13, 2009 01:21 PM

In need of advice about selling a wine collection

So, I'm not much of a wine drinker, but I inherited a nice little collection of some pretty expensive wines. I don't have the space for it unfortunately, so I need to sell it off. The thing is, I'm pretty sure most of it isn't in great condition. But I was told that, if the bottles are good enough, I should still be able to get something for it, and I know for a fact I have at least a few very expensive bottles here.

But I don't have a clue how to go about doing this. Can anyone give me some advice on this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 1) Have an inventory ready.

    2) Call Zachy's, Sotheby's, Christie's,, etc etc.

    Beware they might decline if present and/or past storage conditions are not up to snuff.

    If all of the above fail, you might want to get in touch with a retailer in your area. But then the trick is: alcohol consignment is illegal almost everywhere. Which doesn't mean it's not done, but ... it's tricky.

    1. Because of the economy this is a really bad time to sell the wine. Several major auctions were canceled earlier this year because of a lack of interest. I don't know what you've got, but if you've got some majorly expensive bottles, it might behoove you to pay to store those for a few years until the economy picks up again.
      New York, unfortunately, is more expensive than other areas. But I think you could figure about $20-$24 a year per case to store wine, which isn't too bad. Storing a case for a couple of years could add thousands to its value, if it's really expensive wine.

      6 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        Does it matter if it's already been hurt by improper storage? Could it reverse some of the negative effects?

        1. re: LostDiner

          In a word, NO. Once the wines have been stored improperly, any damage has been done. How much? Very hard, to impossible without drinking, to say. Will anything get better? Highly unlikely. Will it get worse? Probably not, if the wines are cellared properly.

          If the list is not that extensive, you might post here, to elicit comments on the general value. Still, people would be commenting on the wines having been stored properly. If the list IS extensive, grab some representative bottles, and watch for the comments.

          As all others have stated, the storage of all wines for resale is gravely important. Some auction houses will not touch a cellar, unless the temps can be verified.

          Good luck, and start thinking about learning about wines, and drinking them often...


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            «Will it get worse? Probably not, if the wines are cellared properly.»

            I wish I weren't speaking from personal experience, but I am. And in my experience, damaged wines get worse with age, even if cellared properly. A cooked wine can be drinkable, even enjoyable in the first few months after overheating. But as it ages, the damage becomes increasingly apparent. The stewed fruit aromas and flavours become more pronounced. And not only do the components -- the acid and tannins, for example -- fail to meld into a harmonious whole, they seem to become more rebarbative with time. In other words, the wine becomes more and more disjointed.

            My advice to people who have cooked wines is to drink them asap.

            1. re: carswell

              Hmmm. My advice to people who have cooked wines is to dump them asap.

              C'est la vie . . .

              1. re: carswell

                That is interesting, though you had to suffer through this.

                When I has suspected that I had a damaged bottle, I was usually quick to open it/hem and check. A few times, I had a "control" bottles to compare, and usually the "damage" could be discerned in an A-B tasting, but it was always slight, at the most. Because of the extreme AZ heat, this is always a major concern of mine. Most of my wine clubs, and the like, will hold ALL shipments from about April, until Oct. Still, a few end up on my doorstep in July, with distended capsules and an 1/8" of cork sticking up. Only one has leaked, but still, these get opened right away, and sampled. Luckily, any heat damage has been very slight, and all have been drinkable, and enjoyable. What would have 5 years in the cellar brought? I do not know.

                Thank you for sharing, as I was only speculating on my limited experience with damaged bottles. It is nice to know of reports from the field.

                Thank you,


            2. re: LostDiner

              Bill's right that once that wine has been damaged, it stays damaged. For example, "cooking" (allowing the wine's temperature to go much over 80ºF) causes chemical changes that can't be reversed.

              Though there often are telltale signs (seepage, stains on labels or cases, cork that's stained all the way up the side, capsule that doesn't turn because it's "glued" in place by oozed wine, etc.), ultimately the only way to know for sure whether a wine is damaged is to uncork and drink it. If you're not experienced enough to tell, open a few bottles for someone who is.

              If the wines are damaged, they're worthless, at least from an honest reseller's standpoint.

          2. I'd also post your inquiry on some of the winecentric boards like Wine Spectator,, and Mike Squire's board on erobertparker. Be up front about condition etc. There are a lot of folks there who might be able to help you.

            1. Can you give us a sampling of some of the labels in the collection? A few of the high value wines as well as some typical ones? Might give the readers a better idea of the type of collection in question. Seems premature to suggest calling an auctioneer.

              For sure you should work up an inventory of the collection. With that you can talk to local wine retailers to get some ideas on how to market the collection. The best way to develop the inventory may be to use one one of the many hosted web apps that people use to manage their collections. Most of those provide estimation tools. Some can help you seel them too. I have almost no experience using these tools, but VinCellar ( and come to mind.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BernalKC

                I plan to do so, but I'm out of town for a while. I know that the most frequent bottles that appear in the collection are Chateau Margeauxs from the 1980s. There are a whole bunch. I believe there is also one of those from the 60s, in there as well. Off the top of my head I don't really remember many of the others.

                1. re: LostDiner

                  It's a shame they weren't stored properly. 8(

                  1. re: LostDiner


                    I would like to ask you a few questions about your collection if it is still available.
                    Please email me:

                    Many thanks,


                2. Look up all the prices and add it up, then cut it in half and sell it, if you think the wine has been in hot conditions, sell is for less than half with a disclaimer, a collector will buy it with the chance some of it might be unharmed. A local winestore may call a couple of their top buyers for you or put it on your local