What to expect if you were to sell your collection?

I have thought about selling all of my wine a few times. I also think about what my wife would have to do if I were to no longer exist. Saying that, if I were to go forward with selling my wine, I do not know what to expect or know what is reasonable. For those of you who have done this or work on that side of the business, I am wondering the following.

If it matters what kind of wine or amount, this could work for the discussion:
60-100 cases total
25% Piedmont
20% Rhone
20% Burgundy
limited special bottles but desirable producers

Basic Questions:
If an auction house (Hdh, benchmark, kl, spectrum) were to buy my collection outright, what should I expect in return %-wise of its value?

What about a reseller like KL, benchmark, brentwood, what should you expect in cash if they were to purchase?

How long is would this type of process take?

Has anyone had luck selling 20-30 cases of wine at once on Commerce Corner?


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I’ve happily never been in that situation, but I think the general answers are (1) Commerce Corner is not the way to make a huge cellar liquidation like that, (2) a reputable auction house can, pretty easily and painlessly, come inspect and take all your collection and make payment (e.g. to your widow), and (3) what you’d get depends on the wines, but thanks to the healthy and growing wine resale business, you can generally get quite fair prices and find a home for most bottles, including non-collector and non-trophy bottles.

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Generally an auction house is going to auction the wine and not pay you in advance of the auction. There are place that do purchase collections but if you have true blue chip wines and do not need the cash immediately I’d bet waiting for the auction sale is better to maximize proceeds. Maybe 3 months post wine pickup to get $$. With a large consignment like this you should be able to have them handle pickup (i.e. no cost to you) at your place and probably some room on fees. It all depends on the total value of the wines. The market is strong but you’ll get less than what Cellartracker an other valuation may say. Maybe 80% net of fees etc.

Trying to sell that much wine privately here or elsewhere sounds like a logistical nightmare.


I sold ~20 cases of wine a few years ago on CC. I agree it is not the best place, but it worked for me. I know I did not get top dollar, and actually gave some really good deals, but I didn’t really care.

if it’s all/mostly cherries you can sell at auction for free and likely maximize returns. but selling privately to a high-end broker will net you likely the same prices but will also ensure you’ll sell everything (assuming there are a bunch of non-cherry wines).

I recently sold around 280 bottles on Winebid. They picked up my wine from two locations (home and offsite), took it to California, inspected the bottles, and then posted everything online. Given the proposed opening bids/reservations for the bottles (which I accepted), I was quoted a 1% insurance rate and 15% seller’s fee. (Transport and inspections costs were covered by those fees.) Most sold the first week, most of the rest sold the second week, and the last couple of bottles sold over the following couple of weeks. Everything sold. Payments began about one month after the first batch sold.

How much you can expect to net depends crucially on what you are selling. I was selling a few trophy wines/blue chips, but also a lot of stuff that I bought from mailing lists and Garagiste that I was unlikely to ever get around to drinking. Even ignoring storage costs, I lost about $1.8k relative to my purchase prices (around $6.60 per bottle). Ex post, I would have been better off not buying these particular bottles, but that’s life.

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I figure the less popular areas of Oregon, Washington, German, Rioja, and Champagne would lose money and maybe more than its worth. But I think that the Piedmont and Rhone I have would be desirable by those who collect or drink, which would hopefully average it out.

After paying taxes to Uncle Sam I would imagine that the loss would be even greater?

The sale would count as income?

No, any gain or loss would be netted again the basis. So if you sell at a loss there should be no tax to pay. I believe wine sales are classified as “collectibles” in terms of the exact capital gains rates.

I’ve sold wines at a loss many times. Usually these are low dollar items which I am just happy to get $20 or $30 as they are no longer worth that to me.

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Surely its capital gains

Paging Nathan Smyth.


To answer the question, guess it depends on how “high end” the wines are. Very recently I helped two locals trim their respective cellars of California players to the tune of Schrader, MacDonald, SQN, Harlan, Bond, etc.

Vintages spanned a couple of decades, so some well aged wines and some appreciated very nicely (1994 Harlan Magnum). We went through a West Coast reseller and basically got 80% of Wine-Searcher Pro low.

The final payout after third party inspection was around $125K and the broker took care of all shipping and packing.

Fastest is Benchmark or the like. But you’ll get wholesale prices at best.

Auctions might net you more or even a lot more if they are super collectable. But you won’t see your money for 8-10 weeks.

CC might be better but only for certain items.

Something to keep in mind on all of these is there are lots of wine that basically have no resale value.

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A lot of great information in this thread. Thanks to all who have contributed.

I have used as a “rule of thumb” that should I liquidate my cellar I could net between 60-66% of Wine-Searcher low. The above discussion seems consistent with my view understanding that the premium wines (i.e. Scarecrow) would net higher while other bottles would net lower.

Does anyone knowledgeable of the auction market have a “rule of thumb” of the best guess net to the seller based on CellarTracker estimated values?

Thanks in advance.

Note: yes I could hazard a guess if I had a current Wine-Searcher estimate on my cellar but it’s been a few years since I tabulated it based on W-S lows.

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If you lost money overall, even though it’s income, you shouldn’t have to pay tax on it since you didn’t ‘gain’ anything?

unless you have weird laws in America, its capital gains… You’ve bought an asset, you’re now selling an asset, your tax liability is calculated based on the capital appreciation of the asset…

the only exemption I can think of to that that would make it income is if you were trading wine professionally, like a stockbroker/day trader.

I would expect to be dead


I don’t have any rules of thumb related to CT prices, but you can email Winebid, etc. and ask them to give you a reservation price for each bottle. You can then decide what you want to sell. I ended up selling about a third of my collection.

Also, my net was around 90% of the estimated value of my cellar based on the initial set of reservation prices. (Some bottles sold above the reservation, and a few had price reductions before they sold, but most sold for the reservation.)


So you have to maintain the paper trail of all your wine purchases over the last decades to justify appreciation/depreciation of every single bottle?