Guide to Wine Auctions

While the bulk of wine in Australia is purchased through traditional retail and on-line e-tailers, there is also a thriving secondary market running through several on-line auction houses.  People sell wines for any number of reasons (inheritances, divorce, unexpected tax bills, investment, changing palates), and this results in tens of thousands of bottles of wine being available for purchase each week.

There is a certain degree of risk in purchasing through auction.  There’s no guarantee that the wine has been stored well, and less scrupulous vendors may be selling top-end wine specifically because they know it has been ruined through poor storage.  And there have been some recent high-profile cases of straight out fraud (this is probably the most infamous  However, the trade-off is that it’s possible to pick up some amazing bargains, as very few wines hold their retail value on the secondary market.  It’s also a convenient way to purchase wines with some age on them, if you’re just starting a cellar and limited to buying new releases.

The list of auction houses below is not by any means exhaustive.  Rather, it’s a list of the few auction houses we frequent.  We’ll occasionally post individual items where we see a large lot of individual wines that look like great value, but the best way to find bargains is to browse through these catalogues from time to time, and to know what you’re looking for.  It’s also worth noting that some auction houses allow vendors to set reserves for each wine, which makes it much less likely that you’ll score a flat-out bargain.  It’s worth reading through the T&Cs on each site to see if this is the case.

Every auction house that we use charges a buyer’s premium (usually 10-15%, noted below), which is added to your bid per bottle.  You’ll usually also need to pay for freight, although local pick-up is often available.

Auction Houses

Langtons (

Annual Membership Fee:

Buyer’s Premium:

Freight:  $10 for first case, then $5/six-pack after that

Summary:  Langtons is one of the largest wine auction houses in Australia, conducting at least one auction per week, and often more.  It has recently been purchased by Woolworths, and as part of that transition has revamped its website.  In our opinion, the new website is much less user-friendly, and makes it extremely difficult to browse through whole catalogues to find those hidden gems.  As a result, we haven’t purchased from Langtons since the change in website.  However, it’s difficult to beat purely for the range of wines available on a weekly basis.

MW Wine Auctions (

Annual Membership Fee: $27.50

Buyer’s Premium:  15%

Freight:  Varies depending on location, approximately $16/case, local Melbourne pick-up available

Summary:  MW runs a monthly auction with thousands of lots, and a particularly good selection of European wines.  We would review the new catalogue each month and set a watch list, which we bid on as the auction comes to a close.

Wickmans Wine Auctions (

Annual Membership Fee:  Free

Buyer’s Premium:  11%

Freight:  $17/case, or $10/single bottle.  Local Adelaide pick-up available

Summary:  Wickmans runs a monthly auction with hundreds of lots, with a strong bias towards Australian reds wines.  We would review the new catalogue each month and set a watch list, which we bid on as the auction comes to a close.  Free membership makes this very attractive, they charge the lowest Buyers’ Premium of the houses listed here, and there are often bargains to be had.

Oddbins (

Annual Membership Fee:  $22

Buyer’s Premium:  15%

Freight:  $16/carton, local Adelaide pick-up available

Summary:  We don’t actively use Oddbins at this point in time (there’s only so much time you can spend browsing auction catalogues!)

Sterling Wine Auctions (

Annual Membership Fee:  Free

Buyer’s Premium:  15%

Freight:  $16.50/case

Summary:  We don’t actively use Sterling at this point in time (there’s only so much time you can spend browsing auction catalogues!)


Some of our favourite wine experiences have come from Auction

Photograph by wine(refined)
Nick Ireland, Adelaide, South Australia
22 November 2016
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