Selling Wine Online: Cellars & Networks

An analysis of secondary market sales channels for selling wine online in Australia for private individuals or business charged with the disposal of assets. Finding where to sell your wine can be a tricky proposition. There are a number of options (online and otherwise) and each have their positives and negatives. When it comes time for you to sell your wine online , you want to ensure you get the best price in the right time frame. If you have rare and valuable wines to sell then you need to ensure you entrust it to the right place, one that will give you a true but realistic valuation (nobody likes their time wasted) and who will have a ready congregation of eager wine enthusiasts and wine lovers willing to make an offer on it.

How do I sell my wine online?

Choose from various private, retail and auction options below for one that best suits you and your wine. Send a list of your wine to be valued. You will then normally be sent an offer and a list of reserves. Most places will suggest reserves within 10% of each other, anything too high or low should be queried. If you choose to accept, they will either arrange to pick up your wine or you can drop it off to them. Once it is sold you will get paid, minus any commission that was agreed on. 

Where can I sell my wine?

There are a number of channels open to you for selling wines online. It is important to understand how the buyers perceive these sales channels as well.

Private. The best option if you want to see your prized collection go a good home and you have the time to offer after sales support (so to speak). Beware of how you announce your intentions as most social media sites have very strict rules about selling or promoting alcohol on them, and you may also attract the attention of the authorities and the tax man.

Retail. Some corner bottle shops may take your wine on consignment and sell it in their shop. Just keep in mind that their specialty and market is to sell current release wine and your bottle may languish on the shelf for some time before it sells and can cost you as much as 40% commission. Also enquire where they will display your wine, you don’t want it sitting on a warm shelf for months on end.

EBay and other self-service auctions. Because you are selling direct to the consumer you require a liquor licence or you will find your listing removed and/or it will be reported to the authorities.

Wine storage facilities. Some wine storage facilities offer to sell your wine while you store it with them. The prices that are suggested are usually significantly higher than secondary market prices which can make it hard to find a buyer in the short term and often leaves your wine sitting in a managed facility for far longer than you may be comfortable with while you continue to pay storage, insurance and handling fees.

Wine Auctions are your best option if you have good quality wine of any quantity to sell. In Australia, there are only a few traditional, wine-only, auction houses, such as Wickman’s, whose only business is to sell wine through auction. General auctioneers may not completely understand the worth of your wine and typically draw only from a pool of buyers who are looking for inexpensive, current release wines.

How is wine valued on the secondary market?

The true market price is determined by the buyer and not the seller, unless the item in question is rare and desired by multiple buyers. Because retailers specialise in recent release wines rather than aged and uncommon wines, the retail prices for secondary market wines are highly exaggerated and rarely based on any realistic volume of recent sales.

What is the value of my wine?

Most wines typically fall in value by as much as 40% as soon as you pay for it. The amount it falls depends on the marketing hype surrounding the wine, how good the wine actually is and how well that quality is known amongst the wine drinking community. A winery can only guess what the wine is worth when it is first released and it is usually a marketing decision that sets the final price you pay in the bottle shop or cellar door. Then over time, as the wine circulates and is opened, the wines reputation is solidified through wine shows, tasting panels, wine reviewers and, more and more importantly, through social media chatter. The subsequent price being demanded for the wine then becomes a matter to settle on the open market via traditional auctions. Good vintages, in the least tend to hold their initial release price even as the current release price rises with annual inflation. Very good vintages tend to bubble up to the current release price as it changes over time and exceptional vintages sometimes tend to exceed even the current release price.

Do I need a liquor licence to sell wine?

Only if you intend to sell the wine through eBay or another type of online self service facility, otherwise you can sell it through an auction house or retailer who will act on your behalf as your agent.

Are reverse auctions good for selling wine?

Reverse auctions favour the buyer rather than the seller and have traditionally been used to move distressed or excess stock at the cheapest possible price with sellers, not buyers, competing against each other.

What wines are worth more than cellar door price?

There are only a handful of Australian wines that you can buy at the cellar door that rise in price immediately or very soon after release, worth more on the auction market. However, because these wines are generally strictly controlled on release, it is impossible to actively collect them in any sufficient quantity that could classify the purchase as an investment:

What is provenance and how does it affect the price I get at auction?

Many buyers are wary of buying secondary market wine as they don’t know where it has been. Since adverse storage conditions can affect the quality of the wine, buyers like to know the history of where is has been purchased and stored. The greater the level of buyer comfort about how well you have looked after your wine, then the higher a buyer will value your wine against wines of unknown origin. Wickman’s offer a guaranteed provenance system for qualifying sellers.

When should I sell my wine?

Whilst there has not been any conclusive evidence put forward that good quality wine sells better online at any particular time of year, logic suggests that selling prior to Christmas and other festivals or occasions may yield slightly better volume returns. Also, significant birthday vintages may cause prices to temporarily rocket up in price.

Trade vendors – How to sell wines online through auctions

Many wineries have a stigma about their older vintages appearing for sale on the auction market. Actually it is an excellent way to promote a brand and maintain a reputation over the years. When a wine is out of circulation for many years and it is not talked about through the wine drinking community then its value falls at auction which in turn can reflect on current release price. The larger companies understand this as a viable marketing strategy for their brand and ensure that past vintages are always available (in minute quantities) for circulation through the wine community via auctions.