INVESTING - 4 MIN READ
How To Sell Wine in 2020 (Detailed Guide with Steps)
Wondering how to sell wine bottles from your collection?
You might own a Domaine de-la Romanee Conti Grand Cru wine, a Louis Roederer Cristal champagne or any other valuable wine. You’d lose out on the attractive profits you could make if you don’t know when, where, and how to sell it.
Also, the process may get complicated if you try to navigate the research, valuation, and selling yourself.
So, what’s the best route that’ll guarantee you a hassle-free experience and save you significant time and effort?
At the end of this article, you’ll clearly understand when to sell your wines, who to sell to, and five different ways to sell them.
You’ll also discover what is hands-down the easiest way to sell wine!
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- Steps in the Wine Selling Process
- Why and When Should You Sell Your Wine Bottle?
- What’s the Value of Your Wine?
- Types of Wine Buyers
- Where to Sell Your Wine
- Sell Wines Easily through Vinovest
Steps in the Wine Selling Process
These are the steps you’d typically go through when you sell wine:
- Find the best time to sell your wine
- Find the right value of your bottles
- Find the best selling platform that attracts the right buyers
- Determine when to sell your wine (during peak market months, for instance.)
- Complete all the legal paperwork and formalities
- Ship the wine to buyers via a trustworthy wine sales company
Let’s go through this process in detail.
Why and When Should You Sell Your Wine Bottle?
You’d want to sell wine bottles in your wine collection for one of these reasons:
- You want to free up space in your wine cellar for new ones. You may have bought too many too soon.
- You need more money to buy new wines. In this case, you’d pick the wines nearing peak maturity to make the highest profits.
- The bottles in your cellar are nearing peak maturity, and you want to make money out of them.
- You might be losing interest in some of your wines over the years, and you want to buy newer ones (to drink). If your cellar is full of French wine, you may want to add newer ones from Napa Valley in the United States, Chile, or Argentina to the mix.
When Should You Sell Your Wines?
You should know when to sell and when not to sell.
Sell your wines when they’re nearing peak maturity, say a few years before it matures.
How can you be sure when it’s going to peak?
Rely on the winery estimate that’s written on the winery tasting notes or tech sheet. Also, read critics’ tasting reviews and their estimate of the drinking window of the bottle. Mature wines that are ready for the buyer to drink are more valuable.
Also, some wine prices shoot up due to seasonal popularity, like Champagne during the holiday season, and rose wines to entertain guests during spring and summer.
When not to sell your wine
Don’t sell your bottles when the market value is low. (A no-brainer!)
Also, avoid selling and shipping in summers and winters, as there is a higher chance of weather-related damage.
Now, what is your bottle of wine worth?
Why are some wines sold for less than 100 dollars, while some others fetch you half a million dollars?
Let’s move on to this crucial piece in the puzzle.
What’s the Value of Your Wine?
Several factors determine the value of a wine. The value of fine wine is always a combination of its inherent value and real value.
Its inherent value arises from the following factors (before it was bottled):
- History and reputation of the winery
- Classification of the winery (Premier Cru, Grand Cru)
- Vintage quality and weather conditions
- Scarcity or production quantity
- Winemaking techniques
- Critics tasting reviews and ratings
- Aging potential
- Whether it was bought en primeur (in the barrel)
Fine wine also has a real value that is built over time after it gets bottled.
- How many previous owners it has had
- Storage conditions (For example, in-bond storage or storage in a professional warehouse or cellar)
We could capture all these elements - the source, life cycle, and storage of wine - using one term, provenance.
Since provenance is paramount for serious wine collectors, a good wine with several of these factors in its favor will be a highly valuable bet.
That’s why investment-grade Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Napa Valley wines like DRC, Château Lafite, and Screaming Eagle command the skyrocketing prices that they do!
Now, you could appraise the wine on your own - that’ll take a lot of market research, effort, and time. Or get a professional wine appraisal done by a certified sommelier or a wine appraiser.
So, who would buy your wines?
Types of Wine Buyers
This is important to know because you should know how to sell to each of them.
The type of wine buyers you should target are:
- Wine retailers
- Hotel and restaurant groups
- Cult and rare wine enthusiasts
- Private equity funds
- Blue-chip investors
- Buyers focused on some region, grape varietal, or winery
- Alternative asset managers
Be aware that it’s not easy to find the right buyer for your wine collection. Even more challenging is to find buyers for a single bottle or two from your cellar.
That’s because wine buyers usually prefer cases of bottles in pristine condition as part of a bigger collection that’s been perfectly stored.
That was the who, why, and when of wine selling.
Where to Sell Your Wine
Choose your wine-selling platform depending on how much you want to earn and what kind of buyers it attracts.
You have five different options.
1. In-person and online auction
A reputed in-person auction house like Sotheby’s New York, Christie’s, Zachys or Hart Davis Hart and online auction sites like winebid.com would have an existing audience of blue-chip investors looking for rare wines and spirits.
The auction house would first determine that your wines are fit for wine sale at auction.
Experts in the auction house would then value your wine, catalog it, and market it to prospective buyers worldwide.
How to Sell Your Wine at an Auction
To sell your wine through an in-person auction like Sotheby's or online auction, make sure you’ve checked off all these items:
- Find out if similar wines have been sold by any auction house or wine exchanges recently. Research its market price trends using sites like Liv-Ex and Wine-Searcher. Ensure you’ll get worthwhile returns if you sell it now at Sotheby’s or any other auction house.
- Determine how much you want to sell (one bottle, or a case, or a collection itself)
- Be clear of how the wine was stored in your cellar and its storage history before reaching you.
Remember that you’ll have to pay a steep seller’s commission rate to the auction house in most cases. This is calculated as a fixed percentage of the hammer price of the bottle at auction. Be ready to shell out an additional auction performance commission fee as well.
2. Online Wine Marketplaces
Online wine marketplaces like K&L Wines & Spirits San Francisco and eBay help you sell direct-to-consumer to any buyer anywhere in the world.
Online sales are more convenient for buyers than an in-person auction. Buyers love the convenience of being able to buy wine online, compare prices easily, and have the bottles inspected by an expert cellar team.
As a seller, you get charged a flat fee that includes shipping to buyers.
The downside is that it won’t suit buyers who want to see the bottle of wine before buying it.
Make sure the online marketplace you choose takes utmost care about bottle quality and safety and offers refunds to buyers in case of damage.
3. Sell to Hotels and Restaurant Groups
Selling to a hotel chain or restaurant group is another excellent option.
These pointers will help you navigate it better.
Top tips for selling wine to a restaurant
Once you understand the different types of restaurants you should target, prepare yourself with these useful tips before approaching any of them.
- Know whom to approach in the hotel or restaurant (sommelier, chef or beverage manager)
- Prepare your price points in advance, including your best price per bottle.
- Determine where your wines fit in their alcohol or liquor and wine list. This will help you frame goals for your meeting.
- Know their food and liquor or wine menu and wine list so that you can suggest food pairings with your wines.
- Be well-informed about the different wines you own. Be armed with tech sheets and tasting notes, and other documents.
- Offer incentives like wine tasting.
- Find out their wine and liquor or alcohol buying process. Figure out how to get a tasting appointment with their sommelier team.
4. Sell wine to an alcohol or liquor store
When you target a beer or wine shop, or liquor or alcoholic beverage store (such as Brewery Creek Liquor Store in Vancouver), approach them with solid knowledge about your wines.
Be prepared with the pricing details. Also, understand where your product fits into the alcohol portfolio of the wine merchant.
Figure out if these wine stores sell mainstream wines, any specific liquor brands, or a varied alcohol selection. If they sell Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines and don’t have a great Pinot Noir collection, then offer those from your collection.
Ensure that the alcohol or wine store has staff to rearrange store displays and actively promote the alcoholic beverages to buyers.
You may have to connect with them or visit a few times before you can close a deal. Show that you’re passionate and serious about selling your wines.
5. DIY selling
Selling wine on your own will give you control of the bottle price, with very low wine sales fees in most cases.
How to Sell Wine on Your Own
You’ll have to research the prices, find the right buyers in the wine business, and get a wine seller license all by yourself. Also, buyers will always be wary of buying expensive wines from an unknown seller.
You also have to address these legal formalities before your buyer can buy the wine bottles:
- Get a liquor license from your state or country to sell wine.
- Get approval from your country or state to ship wines to the buyer’s location.
- Ensure that the buyer’s country allows wine shipments.
- Get a reliable shipping company with professional shipping contacts.
- Pack the wine according to the winery or winemaker standards.
Once you do all this, send the wine to your buyer.
So, go the DIY route only if you already have a buyer in mind, and will be able to complete all the legal formalities.
Among these, selling through an auction house or online marketplace is a safe bet.
Why Should You Sell via an Auction House or Online Marketplace?
When you sell through an auction house or online marketplace, you don’t have to worry about being denied a shipping license or any such legal hassles.
An online wine auction and marketplace, or an offline wine auction usually follows the following steps:
A. The buyer wins the bid on a specific wine.
B. The auction house takes a sellers’ commission and gives the rest to the wine owner.
C. They unpack the wine from storage and scrutinize it. Their trained eyes can easily spot fake wines and fraudulent bottles.
E. In the next step, the auction house would pack it safely and ship it to other regions. Shipping will be included in the fees.
F. Your buyer would receive the wine along with storage and purchase receipts.
G. The buyer can request a refund if the wine bottle is damaged.
But, what if you could have an expert wine investment company like Vinovest build your wine collection, store it, and sell your wine bottles at the best possible prices on your behalf?
Nothing beats that, right!
So, how does that work?
Sell Wines Easily through Vinovest
Vinovest is a wine investment firm that buys, authenticates, and stores your wine bottles for you. It also lets you sell and deliver wines to any buyer anywhere in the world.
How does it work?
It’s incredibly easy - just follow these four steps:
- Sign up on the Vinovest website.
- Fill up a questionnaire to assess your risk appetite and investment preferences.
- Add funds to your account.
- Track your portfolio online and watch it grow over the years.
Why should you sell wine through Vinovest?
There are several benefits of selling wine through Vinovest.
Easy buying and selling of wines
Vinovest’s Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based online platform lets you buy and sell the world’s best wines, easily. It uses proprietary financial models and historical data to create a balanced portfolio of high performing wines.
Provenance and authenticity
You don’t have to worry about wine market fraud and fake wine bottles anymore. The experts at Vinovest authenticate your bottles and trace their provenance for you.
If you want to have your wines stored, Vinovest will store them in bonded warehouses. Your bottles will be safe under optimal conditions of light, humidity, vibration, and temperature.
Low total costs
You need to add funds to your account and pay a 2.85% annual fee (2.5% for a portfolio above $50,000). This covers buying wines, authentication, storage, a full insurance policy at market value, portfolio management, and selling. Enjoy significant tax advantages because bonded warehouses don’t charge VAT and excise duty.
Easy delivery of wines
Vinovest will safely deliver your consignment to your buyer.
Access to a deep network
You get invitations to exclusive vineyard visits, tasting room, wine club and wine bar visits, and tasting with Master Sommeliers - none of which may ever be advertised on social media. This is an excellent chance for a wine drinker, wine lover, or investor to build an extensive wine industry network.
Plenty of crucial aspects need to be taken care of if you want to sell your wines - from finding the right buyers to knowing where to sell your wines.
What you need is a trusted wine investment company like Vinovest taking care of the entire process of managing your wine collection, including selling your wines.
You can simply relax at home, sipping a glass of Prosecco while waiting for the returns from the sale of your Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon red wine!
So, how about signing up now and creating your wine portfolio right now?