Wine on eBay, part I: Australia, Austria, Belgium & Germany

16 May

A screen shot of the wine selection at eBay.fr

You would think that eBay, who proclaims itself as the “world’s leading e-commerce company,” would be THE place to buy and sell wine online.  Uh, not so much… unless you know where to look.

It is practically impossible to buy or sell wine on American eBay due to the draconian and anachronistic alcohol shipping laws of the United States.  I couldn’t find any wine for sale on the British or Canadian versions of eBay either, presumably out of similar licensing concerns.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no wine for sale on eBay.

On the contrary, eBay sites based in several other countries offer a wide selection of wine (and other alcoholic beverages) for sale.  What follows below is a listing and quick analysis of many of the eBay sites around the world that sell wine directly to consumers.  There are some great deals available on eBay, but be aware of two things:

  1. Shipping wine directly to consumers may be illegal in your part of the world and neither I nor this site can give any sort of advice about the legality of such wine shipments, so make sure you know the rules before you buy a bunch of Mouton Rothschild through eBay.fr; and
  2. Most of the eBay sites below aren’t available in English, so you may have trouble navigating them and/or understanding what they say on there, although Google Translate can usually lend a helping hand.

That said, what follows is Part I of my review of the eBay sites that sell wine, in which I discuss a bit about each national eBay site, how many wine auctions it offers, and give an example or two of what’s available there.  These posts are not intended to be an in-depth review, but rather an introduction to the wine offerings on eBay.  Remember, links to all of these eBay wine sites are on the right-hand side of the blog.

  • eBay.com.au: Let’s start with the wine offerings on Australian eBay, which show that even English-speaking countries can figure out a way to allow for the sale and shipping of alcohol via internet auctions.  There were 4,215 wine auctions on eBay.com.au on Sunday, and the vast majority are Australian wines unsurprisingly.  Many auctions  (2,332) are listed in the “Not Specified” category, but many of these should have been categorized, however, as the category includes some famous wines.  In particular, when I checked, several bottles of Penfolds Grange, probably the most collectible Australian wine, were available.  For example, a magnum of the beloved 1998 Grange was available for $1,595.15 USD as a “Buy It Now” purchase, which is a good price for a magnum.  There’s also lots of cheaper wine on auction, such as the Carlei Green Vineyards Bendigo Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, which had a high bid of 87 cents USD when I last checked.  One thing to check before you bid is whether the seller will ship the wine outside of Australia, as it appears that most sellers only ship within.
  • eBay.at: I saw a t-shirt in Vienna once that said, “there are no kangaroos in Austria,” and you shouldn’t confuse the Australian and Austrian eBay wine offerings either.  Austrian eBay had 9,080 active wine auctions on Sunday, with most of these involving French, Italian, and German wines.  I was a bit surprised that there are relatively few Austrian wines on offer (591), but there are some real Austrian gems available.  An auction ending on Sunday offered a bottle of the supposedly terrific 2008 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Kellerberg, which had a high bid of EUR 27.50 some 11 hours before the auction ended.  Even if the sale price ended up being twice as much, it would still be a bargain considering that the cheapest bottle of the ’08 Pichler in the US or UK  is $84.  The seller of this one bottle lot of Pichler Grüner only lists Austria and Germany as shipping destinations, so, as with Australian eBay, it is best to check with the seller to see if he/she will ship to you before bidding.
  • eBay.be: Belgian eBay is divided linguistically, as is Belgium itself, and though my links here are to the francophone eBay.be, the site is available throughout in Flemish as well.  There is an extensive “Vin & Gastronomie” section on Belgian eBay, though many of the 7,394 auction listing in that section on Sunday were not for wine.  Rather, there were lots of auctions for spirits, beer, wine accessories, cigars, and food items.  That said, Belgian eBay has quite a few offerings of fine French wine, mostly Bordeaux.  One potential steal that I found was a lot of five bottles of 1995 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux that had no bidders as of Sunday with an opening bid of EUR 250 and including free shipping within Belgium.  The ’95 Pavillon Rouge is just getting into its prime drinking window and you’d be lucky to find it for less than EUR 62 per bottle retail.  If you’re looking for lower end wine, there’s plenty of that too on Belgian eBay.  One interesting lot I found was 60 bottles of Cara Mia Italian Pinot Noir for a “Buy It Now” price of EUR 270 and also with free delivery in Belgium.  Cara Mia pinot is not highly regarded, but that’s a lot of wine at the low price of 6 euros per liter.
  • eBay.de: Unsurprisingly, German eBay has the widest selection of German wine available of the national eBay sites I looked at.  Of the 2,520 wine auctions on German eBay, over 50% (1,310) involve German wine.  As with other eBay wine auctions, there were many older and/or otherwise unusual wine available.  One example is the auction of an 1967 Kaseler Nies’chen that has a starting bid of just EUR 1.00.  To find riesling this old is both difficult and, typically, exceedingly expensive, so it may be worth risking a few euros to try such a wine, especially when the seller invites foreign bidders to ask about shipping costs.  German eBay does have a selection of wine from elsewhere, but its French offerings seem to skew to less expensive wine, though I did find a blockbuster lot of 96 French wines.  This lot is comprised of seven cases and two half-cases for EUR 690 and includes a range of French wine from the Rhone to Bordeaux to Loire to Languedoc.

Part II of the “Wine on eBay” will cover the national eBay sites of France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, and will appear later this week.

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One Response to “Wine on eBay, part I: Australia, Austria, Belgium & Germany”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Wine on eBay, part I: Australia, Austria, Belgium & Germany « Wine Auction Spy -- Topsy.com - May 16, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wine Auction Spy, Josh Friedman. Josh Friedman said: How to buy #wine on @eBay from @wineauctionspy; some great deals to be found there, http://bit.ly/bJCEAG #wineauctions […]

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