If you’re keen on good quality wine and considered buying wine in an alternative way instead of a wine merchant or off licence, you might want to consider participating in a wine auction.

It can be great fun, but it’s also 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, suppose you’re interested in bidding and cannot attend. In that case, you can always place a commission bid using 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 Christie’sSotheby’sBonhams and J.Straker Chadwick regularly hold wine auctions.

What to do at a Wine Auction


  • – 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.


What not to do at a Wine Auction


  • – Don’t bid for anything you can’t afford or pay for.
  • – 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.


If you’re attending a wine auction for the first time, you can be overawed by it all. It’s a high pressured atmosphere and people are bidding for items and can spending a lot of money, very quickly. If you look and listen, you will learn how things develop throughout an auction, and you will see that the auctioneers are very experienced in their field; they will realise that they’ve never seen you before. They will be lenient and help you along. They are there to help, not just to take your money!