Think you splashed out on that bottle of red at dinner the other night? Chances are it was nothing compared to some of the wines mentioned below.
The prices for the finest of fine wines are mind-blowing, with certain bottles fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a mix of history, taste and tradition – and, in one case, a journey to outer space.
A lot of the world’s most absurdly expensive wine is not necessarily purchased with the intention of being consumed. On the one hand, imagine buying a bottle for the price of a small house, and then not even getting to taste it. On the other hand, if you bought a bottle at that price, why would you ever open it? You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.
Instead, fine wine is one of the ultimate collector’s items. It looks pretty, it smells nice and it famously gets better with age – at least up to a certain point. People, therefore, invest in 750ml of precious nectar under the assumption that if it lies down for a decade or two, dwelling in a cobweb-clad cellar, the value will soar.
Sure enough, it does. Just have a gander at the bottles below.
What is the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold?
A bottle of Romanée-Conti 1945 sold for $558,000 and is the most expensive bottle of 750ml wine ever sold at a public auction.
The record was set in 2018, at a Sotheby’s sale in New York. There were only 600 bottles of the 1945 vintage ever made, and only two that went to auction. The second sold just minutes later for $496,000. From the Burgundy region of France, the bottles were sold from the collection of Robert Drouhin, a prominent collector.
A private Asian collector made the world-record bid, obliterating pre-auction estimates of just $22,000-$32,000.
Though the Romanée-Conti is the most expensive known to be sold, a sale involving a bottle of Pétrus 2000 is said to have fetched $1 million in a private sale in 2021. But what made this bottle of Pétrus so special? It is younger than other high-end vintages, and most bottles of Pétrus 2000 sell for only a few thousand dollars.
What makes that particular million-dollar bottle so special was the 14 months it spent in…space. Yep, one bottle from iconic Bordeaux vineyard went into orbit and was stored on the International Space Station, as part of a study on food and agriculture.
It came back down to earth in January 2021, and by May had been packaged into a trunk designed by Les Ateliers Victor, in collaboration with the artist Cyril Kongo. Alongside glasses, a corkscrew and an ordinary bottle of terrestrial Pétrus 2000, Christie’s valued it at $1 million, but the final transaction price was never disclosed.
Given the art, the trunk, the second bottle and the strange outer-space element, it still seems fair to give the Romanée-Conti 1945 the real crown.
Another slight-cheat answer is a magnum of champagne that sold for $2.5 million in July 2022. The Avenue Foch champagne was only part of the appeal, however, as with the purchase of the bottle of fizz, came five NFTs.
The bubble of non-fungible tokens has rather burst since that sale took place, and I imagine an inflated price tag has only fallen since.
The bottle was designed by the artist Mig, who was behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. It’s impossible to say quite where the price of the collectible wine ends, and the price of the collectible tokens begins.