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Wine auctions are a good place to find wines that can't be purchased locally. You may want to add to your collection, or find a good investment wine.

If you're new to wine auctions you may simply want to sit back and take a look around.

As with all auctions, wine auctions can be confusing territory for the novice bidder. Before you begin, do your homework. Find out what the price of the wine you want should be.

The best way to get started is by simply attending a wine auction without any intention of making a bid. Read the catalogue that describes what's on auction that afternoon or evening (afternoons are more casual affairs while night auctions are a bit more formal.)

Especially pay attention to the condition reports of each lot. Wines stored in temperature-controlled cellars are often more reliable. (In natural cellars, temperature and humidity levels can swing widely.) You'll also want to look for the reserve bid, or the minimum price that the seller is willing to accept.

Meanwhile, bidder beware -- and watch out for unreasonable bargains which are usually red flags about the quaity of wine on offer. Also anticipate the hidden costs at any auction -- insurance and shipping fees that may add up to several hundred dollars to your purchase. Again, the more prepared you are going in the better your chances of "bidding low and winning big" at a wine auction.

Finally, don't overlook online wine auctions which serve as culinary Ebays for avid wine enthusiasts.

More questions? In addition to this basic overview, there are lots more expert tips and advice at sites like the Wine Spectactor's Cellars 101: How to Buy Wine at Auction with advice from a longtime auction expert.

Wine auctions are serious marketplaces, so act responsibly as a bidder and you may find a whole new world of wine opened up to you.

Good luck!

More about wine auctions around the Web:

Wine Auctioneers Worldwide
- Check out a top directory of the world's wine auctions arranged in a list or browseable by country, including star rated reviews and contact details.

Acker Wine Exchange - Founded in 1820, Acker Merrall & Condit claims the title of America's Oldest and Finest Wine Shop. The online auctions serve both novice and experienced wine drinkers and collectors. The retail shop in New York City sponsors a series of workshops throughout the year and a wine club subscription is available.

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