Term for the auction of products or goods of all kinds to the highest bidder. Auctions have always been common as a special kind of wine trade. Even in ancient Rome, special wines such as the famous Falerner were auctioned off. In the Middle Ages, it became common for buyers to travel to the producers in order to cover their needs locally. Until the 17th century, wines were mainly auctioned in barrels until bottling became more common. Especially the Bordeaux wine trade with the main buyer England was leading. In Germany it became common in the 18th century to auction certain wines.
London has always been and still is the centre of the worldwide auction trade for wines and spirits. The biggest and most important auction houses today are Christie's in London (1759) and Sotheby's in New York (1744). Both were founded in London, the headquarters of Sotheby's is now New York. Smaller houses in England are Bonhams, Bigwood and Straker-Chadwick. A wine trading house specializing in old wines is Antique Wine Company (London). In France, the auction house Artcurial with its headquarters in Paris is also specialized in old wines. In the USA, the most important auction houses besides Sotheby's are Butterfield & Butterfield (San Francisco), Chicago Wine Company and Zachys (New York). Over time, a market has developed not only for collectors and enthusiasts, but also for wealthy investors for the purpose of capital investment.