How can I give this wine to someone who can appreciate it properly?
August 10, 2010 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I have a bottle of wine that's too valuable to drink. How can I sell it?

I have come into possession of a magnum (150cl) bottle of 1994 Mouton Rothschild wine. It is pricey stuff, and I can't drink it. A friend of mine brought it to a guy who does wine sales at Sotheby's, who said it was worth around $400 and online databases suggest that's a reasonable estimate. I would be pleased to part with the bottle for even a fraction of that amount, but I can't figure out the best way to exchange this bottle for cash. Any advice?

I've spent some time with Google and these sellers seem like the most likely candidates: JJ Buckley,, and Zachey's auctions. But I'm not clear on whether using these sites is legal for New York City residents like myself who lack a liquor license. Are these the sorts of legal issues that are OK to overlook, or will the heavy hand of the law descend upon me if I attempt to transfer ownership of this single bottle? If the legal issues are surmountable, which seller should I go to to get the best price?
posted by reren to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
yes those sites are legal. Hell, Zachy's is based in NY.
And that is exactly the sort of wine that get scooped up at a fair price oat places like that.
posted by JPD at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2010

You should probably be prepared to answer questions about the provenance.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2010

Response by poster: iknowizbirfmark: I don't know the provenance of the bottle, unfortunately. It was left for me by a guy whose apartment I sublet. Does that scotch my chances of making a sale?

JPD: The reason that I worry about the legality of selling wine online is disclaimers like this one from the WineCommune site. I'm not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in person. Is it OK for me to sell wine (potentially to someone out-of-state) online?
posted by reren at 7:58 AM on August 10, 2010

I believe the way they deal with the law is by functioning as consignment stores.
posted by JPD at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2010

I would call Zachy's since they're in your state, and ask them. Also ask them if there are any ways you can tell if it's a fake. I understand that most fakers concentrate on much older and more rare vintages, but it's still a possibility.
posted by komara at 8:24 AM on August 10, 2010

not really germane to the discussion - but while most of the high profile fakes have been crazy things like 1847 Latour and what not - there is a trememdous amount of fake first growth bordeaux out there. Anything brandnamey is getting faked more and more.

Hence the focus on provenance
posted by JPD at 8:35 AM on August 10, 2010

It was left for me by a guy whose apartment I sublet. Does that scotch my chances of making a sale?

It would, to the dudes I know who buy wine like this.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:42 AM on August 10, 2010

You can sell it, but as iknowizbirfmark says, provenance is key. Both that the wine is what you say it is (i.e. not faked) and that it has been stored correctly.

You're unlikely to be able to prove either from what you say. You might be able to sell it, but anyone with a brain will only buy it at a substantial discount to account for the fact that it could be duff.

In summary: unless you really need the cash, drink it. You'll may well never buy one of these yourself and you'll be lucky to get close to market value for it.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:48 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I agree with muffinman. I'd throw a very exclusive party for some friends, have it catered and pop that sucker!
posted by TheBones at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2010

I too agree with MuffinMan, and I hope you'll report back if you do drink it!
posted by languagehat at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2010

one mag of 94 mouton isn't enough for a traditional auction listing. You can go through online auctions like winebid, winecommune and AckerOnline. However, every auction house will ask you for the provenace (history of storage) of the bottle and you will be remissed to offer that information.

How is the ullage and general condition of the bottle? The label? I'd expect to net 250-300 dollar after auction fees for a mag of pristine 94 Mouton (not a very strong vintage in BDX, esp in auction markets).

PM me if you would like more details.
posted by Hurst at 9:42 AM on August 10, 2010

Response by poster: I spoke with a guy at Zalchy's. He was surprisingly unconcerned about my lack of knowledge of the bottle's history and quoted me a value of $400 to $500 based on past sales. However, they don't consign single bottles worth less than $10,000 (!). His suggestion was to approach a local wine shop and have them consign it for me. Any thoughts on this? It strikes me as a little odd, but maybe it could work. If anyone knows of a shop in Manhattan who does consignment, I'd be glad to hear about it.
posted by reren at 10:31 AM on August 10, 2010

Yes, just go find a local wine shop. You'll know you're in the right place when you find a shop that has wall-to-ceiling racks of wine in the $15 to $100 range, but also has a locked glass case with lots of one-off bottles in the $100 to $1000 range. Any wine shop that meets that description should be willing to work something out: either consignment or out-right buying it. If you're in doubt, call around and tell them what you got.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2010

I'd love to taste a $400 bottle of wine (how far in advance should I brush my teeth? ). Maybe other Mefites near you would pay $20 for a taste? Have a no-host party?
posted by at at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2010

Response by poster: at: I'm still calling around to see if anyone might buy the bottle, but if that doesn't work out I'll hold a meet-up (not sure where) and you can come taste it. $20 not required.
posted by reren at 11:40 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Drink it!

I've always felt that the ideal of a gift is something nice that the person wouldn't buy for themselves -- "have a treat on me!" Forget the dollar amount some bloke puts on it, enjoy it!
posted by phliar at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2010

I'm with the "drink it" crowd. A couple of good sirloin steaks, home made fries & petit pois would go nicely with it.
posted by cbrody at 4:13 PM on August 10, 2010

Also, bear in mind that if it hasn't been perfectly stored, it may not be all that great after sixteen years—good wine can go bad fast if it gets too hot. It will be a disappointment if you open it with friends and it turns out to be under par or even undrinkable; it will be a huge hassle if you've sold it for a couple hundred bucks and the buyer discovers that.
posted by languagehat at 5:11 PM on August 10, 2010

Wine is for drinking, not for sitting in a cellar. Why bother with it if you'll never enjoy it?

Unless you could use the extra cash, in which case, make some cash off of a sucker (read: "connoisseur")
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:24 PM on August 10, 2010

Drink that wine! And buy a backup bottle or two, just in case the wine ends up being bad.
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:16 AM on August 11, 2010

I would be pleased to part with the bottle for even a fraction of that amount

So, um, how small a fraction?

/NYC wino
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:03 PM on August 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies. To those who urged me to open the bottle for myself, as I said in my initial post, I can't drink it, or not more than a small glass. And anyway I would be much happier spending say $75 on a nice garment or a couple of fancy meals than having this huge bottle taking up precious space in my shoebox apartment. Regardless, thanks again everyone for the input. I've become temporarily distracted from this project but I'll update on the disposition of the bottle once I work it out.
posted by reren at 6:52 AM on August 19, 2010

> To those who urged me to open the bottle for myself, as I said in my initial post, I can't drink it, or not more than a small glass.

That's not at all clear from your original post. You wrote:
It is pricey stuff, and I can't drink it.
Which I took to mean "I can't afford to drink something so expensive—I need the money." I'm probably not the only one.
posted by languagehat at 8:57 AM on August 19, 2010

Two things: one, I agree with languagehat. Two, MeMail cunninglinguist already and sell him the bottle.
posted by komara at 10:19 AM on August 19, 2010

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