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Asia remains top market for Sotheby’s wine and spirits auctions

Buyers in Asia were responsible for the majority of wine and spirits sales hosted by Sotheby’s in 2023, according to the auction house’s market report.

Asia remains top market for Sotheby's wine and spirits auctions
View of the downtown of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Sotheby’s is toasting a fourth year of consecutive auction growth, having doubled pre-pandemic levels in 2023 with a 17% increase of lots offered year-on-year. 

According to its market report for 2023, buyers in Asia led the trend, responsible for the highest share of sales for wines, and over half of spirits sales completed by the auction house throughout the year.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Mainland China and Taiwan were among the individual markets in Asia which remain key for Sotheby’s wine and spirits auctions.

For the first time in over 10 years, US buyers were the strongest bidders in wine auctions, with a record number of buyers in the Americas overall, including a sharp increase coming from Mexico and Brazil. However, Asia remained the leading market, still accounting for 42% of market share for wine. Breaking down wine buyers by region, US$22 million worth of sales came from Hong Kong, $9m from Mainland China, $8m from Taiwan, $6m from Singapore and $8m from the rest of Asia.

The year 2023 marked Sotheby’s 50th anniversary in Hong Kong. And last year the region saw the sale of the first tranche of the world’s most valuable wine collection ever to come to market — The Epicurean’s Atlas: The Encyclopaedic Cellar, achieving US$16.8m, among the highest totals ever achieved for a single wine sale.

In tandem with the half-centenary milestone, auctions were inaugurated in new parts of Asia – in Shanghai and Singapore – establishing Sotheby’s as the first major international wine and spirits auction house to host across all of these Asian sale centres.

The inaugural online wine auction 千红万绯 | 葡萄 酒网上专场 Thousand Shades of Red was held in Shanghai in September, in conjunction with the opening of new premises in Shanghai, designed to be a leading hub for collectors in Mainland China.


The US remained the individual country spending the most on spirits, but 2023 saw bidders in Asia leading the Spirits market, taking 55% of market share in the category. Hong Kong was responsible for US$6m worth of sales, Singapore for $5m, Mainland China for $3m, Taiwan for $1m, and the rest of Asia for $3m in sales. Comparatively, the US was responsible for 33% of sales, and Europe for the remaining 12%.

Whisky and spirits auctions were established by Sotheby’s in Singapore for the first time.

The most valuable Japanese whisky collection – Kodawari – was sold for $2.3m in 2023, a key milestone for the category.

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