What does it mean if a case of wine is "banded"?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I saw a wine auction where a case of wine was touted as being "banded." What does that mean? Is it important?

—Bob, New York

Dear Bob,

Some wines are sold in wood cases secured by a strap or band around the box. If a wine lot at auction is listed as “banded,” that indicates the box hasn’t been opened. In the auction world, that can certainly add to a wine’s value.

Paul Walker, a director of sales for WineBid, told me the most famous of the “banded cases” are the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wood boxes, which are bound by a metal band.

“There are quite a few Bordeaux producers who also use plastic or other material around their packaging for the wines," he says, "and domestic producers as well: One of my favorites is Next of Kyn [from Sine Qua Non's Manfred Krankl], which uses a giant rubber band, which helps fasten together the large box containing a magnum and three 750ml bottles.”

Even though a banded case can fetch a little bit more money at auction, documented pristine provenance is usually the most important factor (beyond authentication of the wine's identity) when it comes to assessing a wine's value at auction.

—Dr. Vinny

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