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Market Trends: The Rise of Buying Wine Online at Auction

Buying Wine Online | Jerome Bressy Rasteau, Gourt de Martens 2000

Jerome Bressy Rasteau, Gourt de Martens 2000, to be sold in the May 3, 2012 Fine Wines Auction (Lot 161, Est. $300-500)

The internet has changed commerce on all levels. From eBay to Amazon to etsy, the online marketplace is becoming the shopping mall of the 21st century. Little surprise, then, that fine wines have made the transition to online venues.

Many brick-and-mortar auction houses use internet sales models as an additional channel for their businesses. Skinner was an innovator and one of the first, offering internet sales as an adjunct to live sales starting in the late 1990s. Our upcoming May Fine Wines auction in Boston features 379 lots on Thursday, May 3, and stays true to this tradition. But, in a new twist of the internet theme, Skinner is happy to announce that over 500 additional lots will be available in an online, timed auction, starting at midnight on May 4th for ten days.

For several years, collectors have been able to offer wines on consignment online through websites like WineBid.com and WineCommune.com. These companies are exclusively built around an online business model for wine auctions, and offer wine for sale in fixed-length auctions. Wines in these auctions run the gamut from $10 bottles to investment-grade Bordeaux. With thousands of lots on offer at any given time, there is certainly something for everyone… if you can find it. Without the benefit of a physical catalogue, you have to know what you’re looking for or spend hours browsing the online inventory.

Buying Wine Online | Napa Valley California Wine

Dominus Napanook 1997, Napa, 12 bottles, featured in the May 4-13, 2012 Fine Wines - Online auction (Lot 879, Est. $150-250)

The Skinner approach makes the most of the benefits of both the live, saleroom auction and the online-only approach. With the May 3rd live auction event, there will be all the hallmark drama of a competitive auction: a lavishly illustrated catalogue, and a unique event to attend and enjoy. Starting at midnight on the May 4th, the online sale will begin and you can continue to participate while enjoying the convenience and privacy of bidding from home with a carefully curated wine catalogue by your side.

Unlike those online-only wine auctions, Skinner provides a beautifully illustrated, print catalogue detailing all lots offered in both auctions, allowing you the opportunity to research wines prior to the auction’s actual start. A digital version of the same catalogue is available to view online.

How did we determine which wines to place in which sale? We carefully examined, analyzed, and catalogued each consignment to determine the best sales venue for each wine. We considered auction history, bidder tendencies, current market valuations, trends, and other factors when determining which wines would achieve the best results online or on the block.

I have sold and bought wine in both types of auctions, and understand the merits of each. I doubt the market will ever settle on just one type of auction; as with most things in life and especially with wine, balance is the key. One thing is certain: when your lot is up, whether you’re at home in front of a computer or in the salesroom with a paddle in hand, your heart will be racing.

If you’re interested in learning more about buying or consigning fine wines at auction, contact us at 508-970-3296, or finewines@skinnerinc.com.

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