How To Sell Wine in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

Do you want to know how to sell your wine? We’ve put together this guide to help you decide which is the best route when it comes to selling your collection; whether you’re looking for quick money, lots of money, or simply want it all taken care of for you.

How to Sell Wine: Financial Gain versus Speed Matrix

  1. Sell Wine For Cash
  2. Broker Your Wine
  3. Auction Your Wine (Bricks and Mortar)
  4. Auction Your Wine (Online)
  5. Sell Wine via Exchange Platform
  6. Sell Wine on eBay
  7. Sell Wine to Hospitality Sector
  8. Sell Wine Independently

How To Sell Wine For Cash with a Wine Merchant (e.g. JF Tobias)

A cash deal is when you sell your wine directly to the wine merchant. It is one of the quickest ways to make money from your wine. At JF Tobias, a cash offer will be inclusive of all fees, so there are absolutely no hidden costs. 

How it works:

  1. Get a quote and valuation for your wine

Usually, as is the case with JF Tobias, you are not obligated to sell your wine after receiving your quote. However, the value of your wine may vary from merchant to merchant. You will receive your cash offer, which is the amount of money paid to you if you agree to sell your wine to the merchant directly. After accepting this offer, the process will begin and be totally organised by the wine merchant themselves.

  1. Logistical Process

The wine merchant will then make arrangements for your wine to be collected, delivered or transferred to the storage facility. They will even arrange to have the relevant packaging sent to you if necessary. Once the wine has completed transit, it will be receipted in a warehouse, and subsequently condition reported. A condition report is a professional photograph of the wine detailing the quality and condition of it. This ensures that the buyer is receiving the same wine as detailed in the quote, among other condition checks. JF Tobias will pay you 5 days after confirmation of the wine being in good condition.

Pros

  • This is the quickest way to sell your wine if fast money is your primary driver. If you are looking to sell your wine quickly, this is probably the best route for you.
  • You can sit back and relax as this could be one of the easiest ways to sell your wine. All you need to do is release your wines with your current storage provider. After that point, everything is in the hands of the merchant.
  • This is one of the most secure ways of selling your wine. The wine does not officially belong to the merchant until the money has been paid into your account. In other words, with this type of sale, you are avoiding potential scams or exploitation.

Cons

  • The offer you receive will be slightly lower than the broking offer on your quote. So, if you’re looking to maximise return, a brokered route might better suit your needs.

At JF Tobias, we highly recommend selling your wine for cash for speedy returns.


How To Broker Wine with a Wine Merchant

A brokered offer is when a wine merchant sells your wine on your behalf to their extensive client base. Once a perfect condition report is received, the merchant will source a buyer for you. You will get more for your money with a brokered offer, as this involves less risk for the merchant.

How it works:

  1. Get a quote and valuation for your wine

As previously mentioned, you are under no obligation to sell your wine after you receive your quote with JF Tobias. Once you have submitted your wines to the merchant, you will then be sent your quote.

  1. Logistical process

The logistical process is exactly the same as when you sell your wine for cash with a wine merchant. See the above section to find out more.

  1. Payment

Payment is slightly different to a cash offer because the wine merchant sells your wine on your behalf. As a result, you will be paid once the sale of each wine is concluded. Some wines sell quicker than others, so the speed of payment will vary depending on what wines you sell.

Pros

  • This is the route to take if you want to make the most money when selling wine. At JF Tobias, the brokered route is our most competitive offer as you are charged the lowest amount of commission. You would receive 90% of the wines market value if you brokered your wine with JF Tobias.
  • There are no hidden costs. Some wine merchants, like JF Tobias, will even cover storage and logistical fees, too.

Cons

  • This process can take slightly longer than selling your wine for cash, because it takes time to secure a buyer. That being said, you will still receive payment for the wines even if it takes longer than expected. If you are in no rush to receive funds for your wine, and want more for your money, then the brokered route is for you.

At JF Tobias, we highly recommend brokering your wine for max return and minimal effort.


How to Sell Your Wine at a Bricks and Mortar Auction

If you want to sell your wine in-person, auction houses are a great place to start. Auctions tend to provide a thrilling experience that you may not otherwise have with a traditional sale.

How it works:

  1. Choose your auction house

There are a number of fantastic auction houses to choose from that have well-established audiences.

  1. Submit your wine

All auction houses will require you to send your wine to them for it to be valued and condition checked. This is to determine whether the wine meets the auctioneer’s standards. Check out our checklist to see what types of things they will be looking for.

3. In the hands of the auction house

Once the auction house has your wine, they will inspect it, value it, and add it to their auction catalogue. They will then market your wine to its audience to create an active and buzzing auction.

Pros

  • It’s easier to sell your wine at an auction house that has a huge audience. They are more likely to accept all types of wines, in a range of sizes and vintages.
  • Your wine is very likely to sell with an auction house with a big audience.
  • It’s a secure method of selling your wine; if the sale does not happen, you can usually have it listed in another auction, or simply returned back to you.
  • The auction house can market your wine, which could potentially increase your return.
  • The legal side is entirely covered; you won’t have to fight any battles about shipping regulations or insurance coverage. This will be organised by the auction house.

Cons

  • Auction houses implement a listing fee, seller’s commission rate and a buyer’s premium which will be taken away from the final sale price. The extra fees tend to add up.
  • Allowing an auction house to sell your wine is not a guaranteed sale. It can sometimes result in the wines being returned to you.
  • This is not the fastest way to sell your wine. It could take multiple auctions for your wine to be purchased by someone else.

At JF Tobias, we recommend you sell your wine at an auction house if you like the exciting auction atmosphere.


How To Sell Wine At An Online Auction House (e.g. JF Tobias)

Online wine auctions are almost exactly the same as bricks and mortar wine auctions. The perk is that you can access them via website or app. Selling your wine at an online auction, like the one hosted by JF Tobias, follows a similar procedure to selling your wine via a cash or brokered route.

How it works:

  1. Choose your auction house

As is the case with many auction houses, you will be charged seller’s and buyer’s commission. This will ultimately will have an impact on the amount of money you will receive once your wine is sold. You may want to choose one with particularly low commission rates. JF Tobias have one of the lowest auction commission rates, so selling your wine to them for auction may offer a greater reward.

  1. The logistical process

If you trade your wine with an established online auction house such as JF Tobias, you will be able to leave all logistical processes to them. The wine will be collected from wherever you store it and later photographed for condition purposes.

Pros

  • If you organise your wine sale through a respectable wine merchant for online auction, you are likely to have all the costs and processes covered. This means this is an easy route to take if you want something less involved.
  • Selling your wine at auction can give you the opportunity to achieve a higher price than you expected. Auction fever can take over and people bid higher than the market price.
  • You may find you get a better deal for your wine if you sell through an online auction. They often have a greater reach than bricks and mortar auctions.

Cons

  • Whilst you could achieve a sale that is above the market price for your wine, there is also potential for it to fall below your expectations. This may be down to a lack of activity in an auction.
  • There’s no guarantee that your wine will sell at the next auction. Sometimes they need to be put up for auction multiple times until they sell. This means that it can sometimes take a while to receive funds.

At JF Tobias, we highly recommend selling your wine through an online auction, especially if you have a particularly interesting collection!


How To Exchange Your Wine Through An Online Trading Platform

A wine exchange is a way for wine buyers and sellers to function in unison via an online marketplace. This functions as a way to trade wines with the option to participate in bartering. It also connects buyers and sellers from around the world, with sites such as Liv-Ex removing the need for a middleman. A wine exchange is also understood to be the most liquid form of buying and selling.

How it works:

  1. Make sure you qualify to exchange

Trading platforms such as Liv-Ex and Cavex often have barriers to trade with them, which is both good and bad. Good, because you know that those you are trading with or against are legitimate and respectable buyers and sellers. Bad, because it means there are a lot of caveats to taking part in fine wine exchanges. We’ll discuss some of these below.

2. Let the trade begin

Once you are able to trade, you can check prices and access a huge selection of wines. You then need to arrange for your wine to be collected or delivered.

Pros

  • Some trading platforms allow you to trade anonymously, which provides that extra security blanket for wine sellers.
  • The trading platforms offer security to buyers and sellers alike. This could be attributed to some of the restrictions there are when joining an exchange.
  • There might be more opportunity to sell your wine quickly, or perhaps for more money.

Cons

  • Trading platforms often have membership fees to trade, or charge commissions on wine sales. This will make the overall price of your wine feel smaller as it is taken from your final sale.
  • You have to meet a number of requirements. Those of you with private cellars may not qualify to take part in online exchanges at all. These restrictions include being an approved wine merchant or having your wine stored in a bonded warehouse.
  • Whilst wine merchants, such as JF Tobias, will cover fees and duties, online trading platforms have lots of hidden costs. You are also not insured, so this will be another payment to consider.
  • It’s not ideal for inexperienced sellers. This is because the platforms lack personalisation and it is unlikely you will have access to advice on wine trade. This will also require you to undertake a great deal of research.

At JF Tobias, we only recommend using trading platforms to sell wine if you are an experienced and certified wine merchant or broker.


How to Sell Wine on eBay

eBay is arguably one of the riskiest ways to sell wine. It is a very involved option, as you have to pay a number of fees and undertake more responsibilities.

How it works:

  1. Approval

If you want to sell alcohol on eBay, you will have to get approved. This requires being a registered business seller on the site.

  1. Listing your wine

Perhaps the easiest part of the process is listing your wine on the app or website. You will have to provide as much information as you can about it. So, we suggest looking at our checklist of things to know about your wine before you sell it. The more information you can provide about your wine, the better the bids will be.

  1. The waiting game

All you have to do now is wait for the bids to flood in. In this time, you may receive questions from people who are interested, or private offers. We recommend researching the market price of the wine so as to avoid selling your wine below its value.

  1. Sold!

Once the wine is sold, the process begins to get a lot more involved. You will have to await payment, package your wine, pay for the postage, and send it. If the wines are expensive, you may want to look into insuring it, or looking into using an experienced wine courier.

Pros

  • You have total control over the final sale of your wine. You can decline an offer if it does not meet your expectations (though this could negatively impact your eBay seller score). There is no contractual obligation to sell your wine until you have received the money from the buyer.
  • You can sell your wine from the comfort of your home at the touch of a button. It is potentially the easiest way to set up a potential deal. This is also more convenient for wine buyers, and connects you with people from all over the world.

Cons

  • You have to do all the donkey work. Photographing, listing and delivering (and potentially insuring) are all down to you. This leaves little room for error, as a slip up will have to be fixed by you. For example, if the courier breaks a £100 bottle of wine in transit, and you didn’t insure it, then you will have to refund the buyer will be £100 out of pocket.
  • There are a lot of costs that would initially seem small, but add up over the course of the process. This will include packaging costs, postage fees and insurance fees. Not to mention the listing and selling fees that eBay invoices to you at the end of the month, where they claim 10% for themselves.
  • It’s not easy to become a verified alcohol seller on eBay. In this case, it’s better to sell with someone who knows more about the business side of wine.

At JF Tobias, we do not recommend you sell your wine on eBay.


How To Sell Wine to the Hospitality Sector

Hotels and restaurants are always eager to acquire wines to sell to their customers. Though, as we will see, this will require a more involved approach.

How it works:

  1. Research

In order to know who will buy from you, you must look for a hotel or restaurant that sells similar wine. This way, you’ll know that they will actually be interested. This will narrow down your options a great deal. Once you have shortlisted your potential customers, you should work out who the most appropriate person to approach will be. This is likely to be a sommelier, but could also be the chef or manager. You should then research the market value of your wine so you know what your starting offer will be. 

  1. Your Pitch

The more informed you are, the better your sell price will be. Present your offer to them with knowledge of their wine lists and menus (for wine pairing purposes). If you can provide provenance, even better. 

Pros

  • You can negotiate your deal face to face with the buyer, and demonstrate the passion you have for your wines.
  • If you are selling with a well-known establishment, then the transaction should be pretty secure.

Cons

  • The process can be very time-consuming. Firstly, it requires a great deal of research. Secondly, it’s likely you’ll need to meet with the relevant parties multiple times.
  • You are up against industry experts. A sommelier and chef will not only have industry specific knowledge, but will also know which wines sell at their establishment.

At JF Tobias, we do not recommend you sell to the hospitality sector unless you already have a great relationship with hotel or restaurant chains, and a great understanding of wine.


How to Sell Wine Independently

How it works:

  1. Research

As I’m sure you’ve come to realise, research is at the heart of all wine sales. However, this is especially the case if you’re selling independently. You will need to know as much about your wines as possible to know exactly which buyers to target.

  1. Red tape

There are a number of regulations in any country when you endeavour on your wine selling journey. You will need to acquire a number of licenses before selling can begin, so this is something you will need to organise yourself.

  1. Finalising the sale

If you already have your licenses and buyers in mind, you can begin negotiations at your own pace and convenience.

Pros

  • Selling on your own means there are very low administrative fees. You won’t have to pay anyone’s commission or pay a listing fee. Of course, there are other costs you will have to pay, and we’ll get to those shortly.
  • You have total control over your sale from the price you sell your wine at, to the couriers and customers you sell to.

Cons

  • You have to be a licensed seller. If you are shipping domestically within the UK, you will most likely also need a premises license.
  • You have to take the time to research the market prices and locate your buyer. This could be more time-consuming than you think if you don’t know where to start.
  • If you are a newcomer to selling wine, there will be many buyers who are skeptical about buying from you.

At JF Tobias, we do not recommend you sell your wine independently unless you have the relevant licenses and an established client base.

I want to sell my wine through JF Tobias. What are the next steps?

If you’ve come the conclusion that it is time to sell your wine, it’s clear that there are a number of routes you can take. At JF Tobias, we provide an expert service through which you can sell your wine. To get started, we recommend getting a free wine valuation using our wine valuation tool to find out how much you could get by selling your wine collection through JF Tobias.

Alternatively, if you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to contact us to speak to one of our experts.

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Alex Cross