For many, the thought of paying $50 for a bottle of wine is akin to lighting banknotes on fire. Wine is, after all, just fruit juice. How could the fermented liquid of the humble grape possibly justify such a price tag?
One might just as easily argue that $50 for various shades of paint brushed onto canvas is also a ludicrous expense. The big difference here is that few people — even those who could never afford a Vermeer let alone a Kinkade — would argue that artwork is overvalued. It is, after all, the utmost example of creative expression.
But to the avid wine connoisseur, there is little difference between an original Dali or Degas and a Lafite or Margaux. The latter two names are not artists in the accepted definition of the word, but their creations are meant to last for decades and perhaps inspire future generations. They just happen to be bottles of wine.
In truth, art and wine share much in common. Those who make each say it’s their life’s pursuit. And, those who buy each say it’s their life’s pursuit. And both customer bases are willing to shell out gobs of money to get their hands on it.
But how much, exactly? Well, art wins the price tag game here, but rare vintage wine is not far behind — think hundreds of thousands of dollars for single bottles. And just like fine art, the fine wine world is full of swindlers.
Before we unveil some of the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold, let’s take a quick lesson in wine volume measurements (it will come in handy). A single bottle of wine contains 750 ml of liquid, or 25.4 ounces. The industry standard for a single glass of wine is 5 ounces, so a bottle contains roughly 5 glasses.
There are many different sizes of wine bottles, and some have really cool names. You’ll find a few in the pages to come. So, shall we crack open some bottles?