The 5 Most Expensive Bottles of Wine Ever

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Largely due to an influx of new collectors from the East, the wine market has been on fire recently, with prices blasting skyward faster than a cork popped out of (an improperly opened) bottle of 1999 vintage Dom Pérignon. If the so-called “Red Obsession” (oh, the wonderful double entendre) has pushed the pricing of a great bottle of Bordeaux out of your price range, take heart: the wines on this list are so ludicrously expensive that they fall out of reach of even most of the newly wealthy, conspicuously consuming folks out there.

5 Awesome Shipwreck Wine

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The prices weren’t astounding, but the provenance of a few bottles of Dutch wine recently sold at auctioned was awesome. In 1735, a ship called the Vliegend Hert sank shortly after sailing from port, and sat on the seafloor undisturbed until 1982. That year, salvage operations brought up gold, silver and other treasures, including several bottles of wine that fetched more than $5000 each. Not a bad price for a vintage almost 300 years in the making.

4 A Priceless Antiquity

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The oldest bottle of wine known to historians likely dates from around the year 350 AD. It likely belonged to a wealthy Roman who had settled in a region of modern Germany. The clear glass bottle is sealed with wax, and holds a wine that, at more than one thousand six hundred and fifty years of age, is likely already putrid or else would be quickly ruined by exposure to air, but for its historical value, it is priceless.

3 The Most Expensive Bottle of Bubbly

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Technically, depending on how you look at things, the most expensive bottle of champagne ever cost well over a million bucks. But that was because some wildly rich guy thought it was a better idea to order a custom diamond-encrusted bottle of effervescent wine than, say, support an orphanage in Uganda. So we’re going with a different bottle for the priciest bubbly ever. That dubious honor goes to a massive bottle—more than 40 times the size of a regular champagne bottle—that sold for almost $200,000. Apparently, it took three men to carry it.

2 The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever Sold

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Why is the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold only in the number two spot on our list? That’s because this 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc was a six liter bottle, making it eight times larger than a standard 750 ml bottle. Thus while the more than $300,000 price tag for this massive bottle of wine is a massive amount of money, it works out to a mere $37,800 or so per bottle of regular size.

1 The Most Expensive Wine of All Time

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The most expensive (standard-sized) bottle of wine ever sold for almost the same amount as the median value of home in the U.S. At a Sotheby’s auction in 2010, three bottles of 1869 vintage Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for more than $232,690. Each. That’s a total purchase of more than $698,000 on some old red wine. Granted, it was probably great old red wine, but it’s still just a few thousand milliliters of booze that could be gone before dessert was served.

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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