February 24 2011
If you happen to be a member of both Alcoholics and Gamblers Anonymous, my advice would be to look away now. But if you’re not and you happen to like the odd flutter and a decent bottle at a knock-down price, then keep reading.
Earlier this week, I came across a brand new website called Unique Wine Auctions which is all that and more. Not least because it is offering the chance to win 25 lots of seriously good wine including bottles of 97 Haut-Brion (RRP £250), 88 Latour (£380) and 2004 La Tache (£900) for as little as two or three quid a pop. Too good to be true? Pas de tout, mon brave.
What this site does is turn the traditional auction model on its head so that the winning bid is “the lowest unique bid”, which could theoretically be as little as 1p. However, you do also have to factor in an additional fee to enter or “price per bid” of up to £5 per lot.
In other words, if my bid for the aforementioned 97 Haut Brion (with a price per bid of £2) is the only one at 8p, then it will cost me a grand total of £2.08 to get my hands on this great Graves premier cru which will then be delivered FOC. It sounds complicated at first. But once you get to grips with the concept, it’s actually very simple – and a lot of fun for oenophiles.
The man behind it is Andrew Cullimore, who owns a wine-trading company on the Isle of Man. “I wanted to do something a bit different and having seen people selling property for the lowest unique bid, I thought, why not do this with fine wine?”
According to Cullimore, it is not entirely a game of chance, “because once you have bid online, you receive an automated response telling you if the bid is ‘unique but not the lowest’, ‘not unique’, or currently ‘the lowest unique bid’. So you get an idea of how well located your bid or bids are in relation to each lot. And the more bids you make, the more information you will receive and the greater your chances of winning.”
So all you have to do is sign up for free and start bidding. But please, whatever you do, do not bid on the 97 Haut-Brion for 8p because both of us would end up losing.