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How the digital era is changing the auctions of whisky and wine

Beyond the fact that we live in the boom of the digital era and the ease it offers at the click of a button, the boost in online sales due to Covid-19 has only benefited alcohol auctions.

Before Covid we had 21 live and seven online auctions planned for 2020. Now we have 15 live and 25 online auctions.” Jamie Ritchie, global head of wine at Sotheby’s, told the Financial Times.

Another consequence of the increased number of online sales aided by a more personalized digital marketing strategy is the involvement of a new audience in these wine and spirits auctions. Between 20 and 50 percent of Sotheby’s alcohol auction customers in the first half of this year are new. At Christie’s, same case: “35 percent were new buyers at Christhie’s,” said chief wine officer Noah May. “What would have taken three years took three months.”

On the other hand, digitalization attracts not only new customers, but also younger ones. At the March spirits sale, 54 percent of the bidders were under 40.

Another factor observed with the increasing online auctions is that customers feel more confident bidding for bottles they have never seen (physically). Bonhams‘ Marc Sands explains, “Now people feel comfortable bidding on expensive items they may never have seen live, physically.”


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