Monday, November 14, 2005

Bidder Beware: Succeeding at Wine Auctions.

Auctions offer excellent opportunities for the wine enthusiast to acquire rare wines and special buys. Wine auctions can be very entertaining and rewarding, but they provide challenges for even skilled bidders. In their zeal to win their prized wines, many bidders will not only sacrifice pride but also a great deal of money in order to accomplish their objective. Here are some of the basics regarding auction etiquette and rules to help you on your way to becoming an adept bidder.

Take advantage of all auction previews. This is your time to inspect the condition of the wine lots to be auctioned and also to ask the wine auctioneer any questions you might have. The auction catalog is a great resource for the posted auction house rules, specific information about each of the auction items, and the item’s anticipated bid value.

In the auction house the final word and authority for each transaction is the auctioneer. Do not make these common mistakes!
• Never interrupt the auctioneer or his clerk during the auction.
• Don’t involve yourself in collusion (violation of the Sherman Act) or conspiring to fix bid prices.
• Don’t waive to other bidders because hand signals are often interpreted as a bid by the auctioneer.
• Although tempting at times, vengefully running the bid up on a competing bidder will only make you an
unwilling target of other wrathful bidders.
These actions can result in public rebuke, or, worse, your expulsion from the auction. It is the auctioneer’s duty to act impartially to keep the pace of the auction fast and smooth.

How should I bid you might ask? The most common method is for the bidder to hold his paddle or card up. Perhaps you’ve noticed some bidders gesturing with their hands, winking, yelling, etc. Depending upon the venue, most these methods are usually acceptable. Determine your bidding method based on the auctioneer, his speed, style, the venue, the number of auction items, and the size of the bidding crowd, all of which vary with each auction.

If the auctioneer does not catch your bid, don’t worry; his Ring Man surely will, and then will report your bid with a very loud “Yep”. Rest assured, if you are a good bidder the auctioneer will notice you and even assist you in any way he can to keep you returning.

Tom DiNardo is a licensed auctioneer, certified appraiser, writer, and avid wine collector. You may reach Tom through his web site . © 2005 Tom DiNardo – All Rights Reserved.