What Is My Bottle of Wine Worth, and How Do I Sell It?
Adapted from Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher
Wine Notes/Wall Street Journal
This query and variations of it — “How can I sell this old bottle of wine and how much is it worth?” — is an often-asked question.
Thanks to Internet resources, it’s easy to get a general sense of how much wines are selling for these days. There are others, but Web sites like www.CellarTracker.com and www.Wine-Searcher.com are places to start.
More and more places now conduct wine auctions — not just Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but large wine stores such as Scarsdale, N.Y.-based Zachy’s and Web-based auction sites such as winebid.com. There’s even an eBay-like site called Cellarbid.com where you can sell your wine directly to an individual or have the site sell it on your behalf. (Be sure to check laws in your area. Many states prohibit such sales.)
All that said, though, with some rare exceptions, the possibility of finding someone willing to buy a single bottle of wine — not an entire lot, not a cellar, but a single bottle — isn’t great.
Why? Ben Nelson, vice president of consignments at Chicago-based Hart Davis Hart, a wine auctioneer and merchant, said that when his firm appraises a wine for sale, it bases the figure on a bottle in pristine condition that’s usually part of a larger collection that has been perfectly cellared.
“It is really storage conditions and provenance that are our biggest concerns because we want to be sure that we are selling the best example of this wine,” Mr. Nelson said.
His usual advice when someone wants to sell a single bottle of wine — again, with some rare exceptions — is this: Prepare a special meal, open the bottle and have fun.
Open That Bottle Night — held annually on the last Saturday of February — was created for such occasions.
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