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  • Writer's pictureThe Grand Crew

Can you Sell your Alcohol Online; an American Horror Story

Updated: Sep 19, 2018

wine auction at Sotheby's
wine action at Sotheby's

Before you read on, we'd like to cover our butts with a big fat disclaimer: we're not legal experts and we certainly don't pretend to be the all-knowing authority on the laws and regulations governing the sale and shipping of alcohol in every individual state.

You also understand that reading the article below in its full length could result in head explosions, extreme confusion, anger and an overwhelming need to wallow in self-pity about having entertained the mere thought of trying to sell your bottle(s) online...

In all seriousness now, if you're considering selling a few bottles of your liquor or wine to anyone other than your neighbor or your members of your immediate and locally situated family, you're likely to be wondering where to start! Type "how to sell my wine" in Google and you'll be flooded with offers to hand your bottles over to auction houses, brokers and consignment marketplaces but you probably won't find a great deal of advice or publicity for outlets where you can simply list your bottle(s) for sale...

While at Epic Cellars, we'd be all too happy to buy your collectible booze... we also understand that there are a few use cases where an individual would benefit from selling a bottle without going through a 3rd party.... Therefore we have compiled a list of a few of the most well known marketplaces out there to help you get started!

Marketplaces to avoid:

Can you sell Alcohol on Craigslist?

I take that bit back about avoiding Craigslist; selling on Craigslist is perfectly fine; it comes with significant perks, like a free ride in a cop car, quality time with a county judge... heck, you might even qualify for full boarding in a cool jail cell!

Think I am joking? There has been at least one reported instance of an individual getting arrested and fined copious amounts of cash for having posted a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle on Craigslist.

The other added perk of using Craigslist, provided you're brave enough to violate their terms and expose yourself to a potential lawsuit is that you will have to deal with the myriad of scammers who monitor just about every post that makes it on the list; be prepared for millionaires and princes who want to pay you YES YOU significantly more than the market value of your bottle(s) by way of a counterfeit money order, of course!

Can you sell Alcohol on Amazon?

Selling alcohol as an individual on Amazon is prohibited. period. Amazon posts an extensive lists of goods which you cannot sell as an individual.

You could register as a professional, you might say... in either case, besides the fact Amazon will charge you a nice monthly fee for the privilege to list stuff for sale, you're only allowed to sell wine and you're only allowed to do so if you are in possession of one of the following licenses:

- A domestic winery (ie: a licensed wine-maker)

- A California winery and importer

- A California importer and wholesaler with retail sales privileges

- A California wholesaler with retail sales privileges and ownership of the wine brand that you intend to sell on Amazon

Minor detail: you must also be in total compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations; good luck navigating the nebulous chasm of mind-numbing, eye-watering legalese... we'll provide a sharp pencil for you to stick in your eye too if you're into that sort of cruel and unusual self-punishment.

As far as we know, Amazon will not allow anyone, individual, professional or liquor license holder, to sell actual hard liquor on its platform.

Again, not an issue if you'd like to take a cool ride in a cop car. Be our guest.

Can you sell Alcohol on Ebay?

This is pretty much the same deal as Amazon; you can sell your wine as long as you are in possession of one of the above mentioned licenses and state regulatory compliance.

If you're inclined to believe eBay does perhaps allow for loopholes as to the sale of collectible liquor because it allows the sale of collectible items and by golly, your bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23y is certainly considered a collectible item, think again... eBay allows the sale of wine for approved sellers but does not allow the sale of collectibles containing alcohol. There. Done.

Can you sell your alcohol online? enter the "Gray Area" Marketplaces <cue the scary music>:

Before you jump out of the window, here is the silver lining; there are a few outlets which cater for individuals selling liquor and wine. However this does not dispense you of the need to check all applicable state laws and regulations pertaining to the sale of liquor by an individual.

This is one of the most vibrant and active wine-lover community out there. Besides the fact that they cater for every imaginable discussion centered around wine, they also provide a great forum for listing your wine. It's simple and straightforward; you can access their listings by going to their commerce corner and listing what you're looking to sell.

The catch in this wonderful free market of booze-selling bliss, is that in contrast to Amazon and eBay offering well oiled measures to protect both the buyer and the seller, while handling arbitration and disputes, you're essentially responsible for managing the entire sales process, with little protection from scammers, con-artists, and other creative and evil little minds who will find ways to have you part with your bottle without getting paid for it.

Also be prepared to deal with whiners who want a badger you for a refund post sale because they changed their mind, or would have you believe you've sold them a fake bottle, etc...

LiquorList is similar to Wine Berserkers insofar that it's free and simple: you create a list of the booze you're interested in selling and voila! you're ready to tap into a huge database of organically acquired, international liquor aficionados. This means your listing has the potential to attract buyers from oversees. Beware what you wish for, though... There are just a couple of minor catches and concerns to which we should draw your attention:

Like with all other sites offering a platform for individuals to sell their wine without a being in possession of a wine producer or liquor license, the big disclaimer clearly warns them to do so at their own risk. Don't expect LiquorList to bail your butt out if you don't know what you're doing!

Like Wine-Berserkers, no protection can be offered from scammers and post sale headaches; you get the picture.

Not to sound like a broken record but WineSpectator is basically the same deal as Wine-Berserkers and LiquorList. You sell your wine in a forum and hope to find an honest and local (or "in-state" buyer) as your safest option.

Safe Marketplaces

Now that we have checked off plausible options, and all applicable caveats, consider the options below to be your safest bet insofar that the sale of your bottle(s) is handled through a 3rd party, which is adequately licensed.

Vinfolio doubles up as a self service wine-listing platform and a full-service broker. This means you can safely list your bottle on Vinfolio's platform.

1. Self Service Listing: you list your wine yourself, send it to Vinfolio for consignment and wait for it to sell, at which time you'll pay a whopping 15% fee for that service (or get a voucher so... you guessed it... you can buy some of their wine). You still have to field questions from potential buyers and deal with the fickle hagglers along the way...

2. Full Service Collection Sales: this is essentially the same as selling to a broker. Vinfolio appraises your wine, lets you know what you'll get for your bottle(s) and they will take care of selling it... the revenue will likely be less than what you would get by using their self service option but it provides the convenience of dumping your bottle(s) and walking away with a check.

Affectionately nicknamed BBB, Bottle Blue Book is a great option, though geared exclusively to cater for sellers and buyers of Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, Scotch and Japanese whisky.

Bottle Blue Book allows you to search for the bottle(s) you're looking to sell and will offer a convenient option to sell your bottle at a pre-approved price, displayed right there and then. Behind the curtains, BBB has secured preferred (read higher) offer rates through partnerships with one or several approved brokering partners interested in acquiring your bottle(s) and makes the introduction for you.

Since the seller sees the priced offer before pulling the trigger, this makes for an attractive option for sellers who just want to sell quickly and efficiently.

As far as the negatives of using BBB's priced offers, there aren't really any per se; you're dealing with a broker so while you may not be able to sell your bottle(s) close to its potential retail price on the secondary market, you also won't have to deal with the headaches of trying to sell anything yourself!

Are you still with us?

In a nutshell, if you're not going to be selling your bottle(s) through an auction house or a licensed broker such as Epic Cellars, be sure to check your state laws before you post that bottle!

Don't on Craigslist, Amazon or eBay

If you're going to sell on WineBerserkers, LiquorList or Wine Spectator, do so at your own risk

If you're not going to be selling through a licensed 3rd party, be sure to favor local buyers, as it is flat-out illegal for individuals to ship alcohol anywhere without the assistance of a licensed 3rd party!

Of course, if you're looking for a simple, easy and hassle-free way of selling your wine, we are here to help! Don't be the next horror story on your local news :-)



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