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Sell My Wine: How to Sell Wine Legally

January 15, 2021
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Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

Are you a restaurant owner trying to sell wine inventory before it becomes dead stock, a private wine collector looking to sell part of your collection, or just interested in starting an eCommerce business?

You're not alone.

liquor inventory app

There has been exponential wine industry growth in the past two decades. Whether you're a collector looking to sell a vintage wine or a vintner looking to sell in bulk, the market is bigger than ever.

Read on to learn the best places to sell your wine, whether online or at an auction, and what you'll need.

How To Sell Wine Online

The laws and requirements for selling wine online vary greatly depending on who's doing the selling. Private sellers are restricted to selling small amounts through existing channels, but businesses have different rules. The most common sellers are vineyards that bottle their own wine and online retail businesses.

Here are some things they need to sell online:

  • Alcohol Dealer Registration. This is a form provided by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). It records a business's tax information, dealer class, and subclass for the federal government. Without this form, the business can be fined or closed, and the owner can face federal charges for tax evasion and more.
  • State retailer's license. Even if you only sell wine online, you still need an eCommerce business license from your state. To find the license needed for a retail business in your state, check the SBA website. They have information regarding the requirements and fees associated with business licenses and permits from all federal and state agencies.
  • Shipper's license(s). Though your retailer's license is for the state you operate out of, you need a shipper's license for every state you will ship to. This proves to each state that you are an approved and licensed alcohol seller.

Sell Wine from Home: How to Sell Wine Privately

If you're a private citizen looking to sell wine from home, you should start by researching the wine you're trying to sell. You should sell the wine as close to peak maturity as possible, as aged wine will lose value if you wait too long. You should also look into the current market value of your wine. Selling when the market is congested can lower your profit substantially.

Next, you can sell the wine using one of the online resources below.

Where to Sell Collectible Alcohol: Sell Vintage Wine Online

If you’re a business with vintage wine sitting in your storage or have collectible alcohol at home and you're looking to sell it at peak value, selling online might be a good idea.

Here are four ways to do that:

  • Online marketplace. Online wine marketplaces draw in more collectors than in-person auctions. This makes it even easier to sell niche wines and vintages. Some marketplaces also inspect the wine before it's sold to ensure its quality. Whether you’re a business or a private collector looking to sell wine, BlueCart eCommerce is a great choice. It’s an all-in-one online marketplace that handles store design, menus, payment processing, and more.
  • DIY sales. Selling online as a solo entity lets you have full control over the price and you can avoid fees charged by third parties. However, it comes with many difficulties. You will need to acquire both a retailer's license and a shipper's license. You also have to handle shipping and marketing, which can be overwhelming for people. Some high-end establishments may also want to add your wine to their wine list.
  • Wine brokers. If you only have a small selection of vintage wine to sell, using a broker might be the best choice. These brokers have an existing network of buyers and sellers, and they are well-versed in wine valuation. However, their cut will be higher than a marketplace. They also tend to offer refunds if bottles are broken or corked. Restaurants and bars that use a perpetual inventory system like BinWise Pro don't have to worry about this issue if issues arise after purchase. BinWise Pro can automatically send vendors a Corked Wine report to request a credit or a replacement. 
  • Social media. Facebook, Reddit, and a few other social media sites all have private wine communities. Many are even secret, or invitation-only. If you do get into one, you'll find many like-minded individuals who are more than willing to pay a premium. Transactions are heavily vetted and done between the parties, not the group. The rules and regulations are strict and failure to comply can get you banned from more than one group since there is community overlap.

How to Sell Wine at Auction

If you're looking to sell wine at an auction, you should research if a similar wine or collection has sold recently. This will give you insight into the current wine bottle price of your wine, and if there's enough interest. If you can't find a price history for your wine, you may still be able to sell it. Ultimately, that decision rests on the auction house.

Next, approach multiple respected auction houses to find the best value for your wine. They will provide you with an estimate based on your collection, vintage, and condition. Once you've chosen the auction house, they will take over from there. You can expect to pay a seller's fee of up to 18% when the sale is finalized.

How to Sell Rare Wine

Selling rare wine is best done by going through an auction house or broker. This is because rare wines should be evaluated and priced by professionals to ensure you make a profit. They also take most of the risk on themselves, so you'll be protected if something goes wrong.

Reach out to experienced companies first to get a rough valuation of your wine or collection. Factor in seller's fees as well, then pick whoever you feel will do the best job of making you money. Then sit back, and wait for them to do the hard work.

liquor inventory app

Selling, Wine Not?

Whether you're a large-scale seller selling a case of wine or just a collector with one rare bottle, there are more ways than ever to sell your wine. You can sell online or in person, privately or at an auction. They have varying legal requirements, costs, and difficulty. So, pick the path that will get you the most money and offers the least amount of risk.

If you do end up finding it too hard to part with your wine collection, why not drink it? You can pick up one of the best wine aerators or best wine decanters, grab a book to learn about wine, and relax with a great vintage. You can even watch a sommelier documentary if you're so inclined.