How to Sell Your Wine at Auction

By Halliday Promotion for MW Wines
You have a stack of wine and you’re wondering, should I sell some? Are my wines worth anything? How should I go about it? Never fear, because we have the answers he


We think wine is a great investment (of course we do!), but there are a couple of factors to consider. If you want to buy wine specifically to turn a profit, the bad news is you’re going to have to wait. Five years (or more) is a long time to be patient, especially when it’s so tempting to just drink it. There is a vibrant secondary market for aged wine, and if you have bought the right wine at the right price, you can do well financially. If you don’t end up selling it, well, you can always drink it.

Have a cellar that’s already overflowing with wines that you’re not possibly going to get through in this lifetime? It might be time to liquidate those liquid reserves. Nick Stamford, Managing Director of MW Wines, Australia’s largest independent wine auction house, gives us the lowdown on how to get started and what to expect.

Who can sell my wine?

Online auctions provide one of the best ways to find a buyer in Australia. There are thousands of people active in our wine auctions and access to that audience will give you a leg up. As well as that, expert insights from auctioneers will ensure you secure the best price possible.

What is my wine worth?

If you want to know the value of your wines, it’s worth consulting a professional. We provide realistic estimates in a short timeframe, and we do it free of charge. You can then decide which wines you’d like to sell – if any – with no out-of-pocket expense.

How many wines do I need to start selling?

The policy will change from place to place, but through us, you can sell a single bottle if you want to. The only thing to keep in mind is that you want the profit to be more than the cost of the freight/petrol used to drop it off.

What will influence the price received for my wine?

The kinds of wines that go nuts on auction are flagship labels from famous wineries and regions. Iconic Australian wines such as Penfolds Grange and Bin 707Henschke Hill of Grace and Mount EdelstoneRockford Basket Press and the like are consistently strong performers. Rare Burgundies from top producers like Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Armand Rousseau, Georges Roumier, Coche-Dury and Roulot also attract incredibly competitive bidding. Classified-growth Bordeaux has seen resurgence over the past 18 months – particularly first growths such as Latour and Lafite – after a bit of a flat spell. That said, one of the things we’ve learnt is that it only takes two committed bidders to push any wine to surprisingly high prices – sometimes you just never know.

Another factor that will influence the price received for your wine is the condition in which it’s been kept. The closer to perfect the bottle is, the better the result will be, so care for your wines appropriately and make sure they get to us in excellent condition. Check the fill level in the bottle – is it in the neck, somewhere in the shoulder, or below the shoulder? If it’s below the bottom of the shoulder, it’s unsaleable. Also, check the condition of the label, and whether the capsule remains intact and undamaged. If you are not sure, you can bring the wine into us to be assessed, or send us photos. There is also a Help Tour that provides some guidance on bottle attributes.

When should I sell my wine?

Before the wine is past it’s drinking peak, which will depend on the wine. The myth around any wine improving with age is false – some wines should be consumed within 18 months of bottling, while others, such as those from the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, are known for their fine wine designed for ageing. To find out, give MW Wines a call so we can provide you with the information you need, and then you can sell when you’re ready. Other than that, there’s no real ‘best time’ to sell. Our auctions run every four weeks, but wine can be consigned to us for sale at any time.

How quickly will I see the results of my wine investment?

The time it has taken to cellar your wines aside, with MW Wines you can realistically receive money in your account in less than four weeks from the time your bottles arrive for auction.

How do I submit my wines for auction?

You can drop them into us in Collingwood, Victoria, or otherwise, we can assist with freight or potentially pick them up from you.

Are there other costs involved in selling my wine?

As well as the cost of transporting your wine, there is the seller’s commission (subject to a minimum of $2.75 per lot). Our commission starts at 13.5 per cent but reduces where the estimated value of a particular consignment rises. The seller receives the hammer price achieved at auction, less the commission. We also take zero commission on Penfolds Grange, which is unique, so the seller gets the full hammer price.

What’s your best tip for first-time or even seasoned wine sellers?

The most reliable advice I can give is not to demand too high a reserve. We recommend 90 per cent of the auction price to encourage competitive bidding – once multiple people start bidding they become invested, and you’re likely to achieve what you’re looking for or more. Every auction we see examples where there are two or more bottles of the same wine, in the same condition, with one at a lower reserve, and the lower reserve almost always achieves a better result.

Key takeaways:

  • Flagship wines from famous producers and/or regions are your best bet if you’re planning to sell.
    • Keep track of the wines in your collection in a way that you can easily refer to and share.
    • Take care of your wines. To assess a bottle, check the fill level, label and capsule conditions.
    • You don’t need large quantities of wine to start selling. Auction a single bottle if you want!
    • The knowledge and connectivity that online auctions can provide will assist you in achieving a good return.
    • The turnaround time for online auctions is fast and you can enjoy the results relatively quickly.
    • Consider transport costs and seller’s commission when deciding if it’s worth auctioning your wine.
    • Set the reserve a little lower than your estimate to encourage competitive bidding.