The ways and channels you can sell wine
There are several different channels and wine sale concepts but the best one for you really depends on what you have to offer. We’d be happy to take a look and guide you in the right direction if you wish. Basically there are four main channels:
This is a straightforward deal, you offer a list to a store and they look through it and give you an offer on all of it or some of it (called cherry picking). These deals depend greatly on the size and quality of the wine stock you’re selling.
Everything is always subject to their inspection and sometimes these offers include a down payment with the balance to be paid at a later time and after potential reductions due to list discrepancies and/or provenance issues.
Sometimes a price is assigned to each line item and sometimes it’s just a single number for all the list. Don’t expect to get the market (wine-searcher.com) prices on the wine you sell as the store will likely want to sell it at price which are only slightly more. Obscure wines on your list will be priced very low. See list of some of the stores that buy this way.
Pros: you get what you negotiate and in many cases it can be pretty convenient since the buyers will likely “take care of everything”. In these cases you may also be able offload the entire stock (including the obscure wine)
Cons: you need to have a pretty good list for the store to bother with taking care of everything and taking the risk. People who don’t know the value of the wine they have sometimes accept lowball offers – that’s why it’s a good idea to shop the list around.
In the consignment and consignment-auction channels the store takes less risk on the wines you wish to sell since they will only pay you once they manage to sell the wine. These stores have the customers and the marketing abilities but you can bet that the customers are going to try and cherry pick the famous and well know stuff.
The going rate for “seller’s premium” is 15% which means that if you sold a bottle for $100 you’re going to get $85 and the store will get $15 commission plus a “buyer’s premium”.
The wine you consign can go on an email blast list, an online shopping cart or an auction. Many stores impose minimums on the per bottle and total lot worth as they do have to invest inspection work in the bottle to insure their own reputation. - List of wine consignment stores
Pros: could possibly get better rates than a straight purchase and also allow you to cherry pick (based on their criteria).
Cons: your wine might not sell quickly or at the prices you envisioned. Bottles that don’t meet the criteria cannot be off-loaded.
Major auction houses like Christie’s Sotheby’s are also active in the secondary wine market as it compliments their other types of lots. There are also wine specific auction houses that have grown in prominence in the past decades on the heels of the significant growth in demand for fine wine in China.
You can expect them to be very particular and discerning in what they accept to auction and they also tend to collect a hefty “seller’s premium”, however they may command higher hammer prices than the online stores. List of major wine auction houses
Pros: a chance to get good prices if the auction goes well. The reputation of the auction house can help a lot.
Cons: could have a big sellers premium (that’s the commission you pay the auction house for each successful sale). They’re likely to be very discerning in accepting lots.
Peer to Peer
Another more involved way to sell your wine is to sell it directly to another private individual. Posting on platforms like ebay (the US ebay website doesn’t allow wine sales) and Craig’s list. Another way is posting on wine forums like Wineberserkers (recommended to post on their “commerce corner" topic). This channel gives you more control but requires you to find customers and trust them. You can also expect that people who buy wine through these channels are likely pretty savvy.
Pros: you keep the control and perhaps can get better prices than the other channels
Cons: you need to find the buyers, negotiate, plan the logistics and then trust them with the payment.