If you’re into reasonable quality wine and if you’ve ever considered whether to have a go at buying wine in an alternative fashion as opposed to the everyday wine shop or off licence then do not hesitate, if the opportunity arises, to definitely consider participating in a wine auction.

They are great fun but it is also very easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. If you can attend the sale in person then attending a live auction is the way to go, however, if you’re interested in bidding and cannot attend then you can always place a commission bid by means of fax or email and this allows an employee of the auction house to bid to a certain level, fixed by yourself, on your behalf. Great wine auction houses such as Christies, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and J.Straker Chadwick all regularly hold wine auctions.

– Arrange for a hard copy or emailed version of the wine auction catalogue prior to the sale so that you know what’s on offer and if anything suits your budget.
– Do some research on anything that takes your fancy to make sure it’s worthy of your interest.
– Do check out retail lists to make sure of the current market value (there is no point paying over the odds for something that you can buy cheaper elsewhere).
– The reason for attending an auction is to either bid for something that is rare and not a regularly seen item or to buy something more common but a little cheaper than you could do elsewhere. Do remember the figures you’ve researched when bidding.
– Do remember that most auction houses charge a small percentage of buyers’ commission or premium on top of the final winning bid.
– Do remember that if you successfully bid for a lot and there are similar lots to follow, you usually have the right to purchase the other lots at the same price that you’ve just acquired the first one. The auctioneer will ask you if you wish to purchase either all or some of ‘the parcel’, which you can either agree to or decline as you wish.
– Do fix a target amount that you’re prepared to pay in your mind.

– Don’t bid for anything you can’t afford or pay for – very embarrassing!
– Don’t get carried away in a bidding war if it means going over your limit set in your mind as you’ll probably find you could have bought the wine cheaper elsewhere.
– Don’t feel that you have to buy something (anything) just to warrant attending if you haven’t managed to get any of your targets. The targets will inevitably come round again at another time.

I’ve been to many live wine auctions over the years and I’ll admit that the first few I attended I didn’t bid or buy anything simply because I was a little overawed by everything and a little afraid of making an idiot of myself! If you look and listen then you will learn how things develop over the course of an auction and you will see that the auctioneers are normally very experienced in their field, they will realise that they’ve never seen you before and they will be lenient and help you along. They are there to help, not just to take your money!

Overall, give it a go, have fun and you may even get yourself a bargain!

(Picture from www.reuters.com)