For all serious, curious, or budding wine aficionados a wine auction can be the best place to gather great wines either by the bottle or in bulk. But, just because this may be the best place to get wine doesn't mean that you can simply walk in, find what you want, and walk out. There is some basic information that you should be aware of before attempting an auction excursion.
- What to expect. There are typically three kinds of auctions that a person can attend, each with its own unique behaviors. In the country auction you can expect to have a rambunctious and slightly rowdy time where the bids are entered vocally and in a rapid fire manner. You have to pay attention or you will quickly become lost. In the auction house things happen at a slightly more sedate pace. Also known as silent auctions, the only person who is allowed to speak during the proceedings is the auctioneer and bids are placed by raising your hand or a numbered placard. The final auction style is the sealed bid auction, where you do exactly what it sounds like. You make your bid in a sealed envelope and have no idea what your competitors are bidding, in the hopes that you will have the winning bid.
- House rules. Prior to attending an auction you need to make sure you understand the house rules and that you will be able to abide by them. Some of these rules include purchasing rules, how much of the purchase price you need to have available, the commission given to the house, and any costs for attending the auction at all.
- Quality wine. When looking over the wine that you will be bidding on, you need to know the basics of determining quality wine. The wine should have been stored in a temperature controlled manner; if it has not then take a look at the color of the wine and the cork itself. If the cork is loose, or smells musty then that is a sign of bad wine. For white wines, look for a yellowish-green color as a sign of discoloration and that the wine may no longer be any good. Red wines are supposed to be exactly that—red. If they have a purplish-brown tinge then it is no good.
- Vintage wine. At wine auctions you will hear a lot about vintage wine. Simply put, vintage wine is a higher quality wine that is able to be stored for longer periods of time. Most wines are designed to be consumed within a relatively short period after manufacturing, typically within a week or so after purchase. While it is possible to drink vintage wines immediately after purchase, they are formulated to be able sit for years at a time and improve in taste over that time period.