How can I determine the value of my wine collection, and then sell it?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’ve been buying wine for 20 years. The wines have been stored properly (I hope), but it’s mostly a random assortment of bottles. What is the best way to sort it out to make sense of it all and determine value? And once a value is determined, how do I go about selling my wine?

—Jeffrey H., Woodbridge, Conn.

Dear Jeffrey,

Let me be straight with you. Random bottles with uncertain storage histories are not going to have a big market or a high resale value. Not every bottle is collectible, and just because a bottle is rare, unusual or old doesn't necessarily mean it's valuable.

I’d start with Wine Spectator’s Auction Price Database, which tracks the most collectible wines. If you think you have a gem, you can look for a buyer by contacting wine merchants, the producer of the wine or an auction house. Auction houses will want documentation of how the wine was stored, and they prefer to deal with larger collections rather than individual bottles, which generally aren't worth their time.

Through the magic of the Internet, you might also find some person-to-person wine-auction sites. It might be difficult to sell your first couple of bottles until you get some feedback as a reputable seller. And be careful, as some liquor laws stipulate that individuals can’t sell wines without the proper permit.

—Dr. Vinny

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