I was reading a post on the Wall Street Journal today about a recent Sotheby’s wine auction in Hong Kong. The story discussed some of the amazing prices vintage wines direct from the wine maker are getting. To me it’s amazing that even in this economy vintage wines can command such amazing prices.
What does a $29,000 glass of wine taste like?
An Asian buyer is about to find out–at least, if they decide to pop the cork.
Three bottles of Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild 1869 were just sold at a Hong Kong auction by Sotheby’s. The hammer price of $232,692 a bottle set a record for the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at auction. It may well be the most expensive bottle ever sold, though there are no records of private sales.
“Wine history was made today,” said Serena Sutcliffe, head of Sotheby’s International Wine Department.
So some lucky buyer bought a bottle of wine for over $230,000 dollars – the most ever paid on record for a bottle of wine. Personally I’m not a big wine drinker so I can’t really understand the attraction of a wine this old. Is it purely historical value of the bottle, or does the wine actually taste good after all that time? Would you even want to open a bottle that expensive? Or would you hold onto it for investment purposes – to resell down the road?
Top first-growth wines, of course, have had a huge run lately because of demand from Asia–primarily newly wealthy Chinese buyers. The Sotheby’s auction raked in a total of $8.4 million–more than triple the initial estimate. All 284 lots were sold. The wine came directly from Domaines Baron de Rothschild, giving them “perfect provenance,” in wine speak.
A total of seven bottles hit more than HK$1 million, or $128,205 each.
By way of comparison, billionaire William Koch paid $500,000 for the four bottles of Bordeaux (vintages 1784 and 1787) that many now believe to have been counterfeit.
At $232,692 a bottle, the Lafite 1869 works out to about $29,000 a glass, or more than $2,000 a sip.
Worth it? We may never know. The buyer is unlikely to ever drink them. More likely they were purchased as investments or well-lit and highly protected centerpieces to a wine cellar.
But if they do decide to take a sip, let us hope they post a review.
My, my, my. $2,000 a sip. No thank you. I guess the article does make clear that the buyers of such vintage wines usually don’t open them, but hold onto them for investment purposes, and to have as a highly coveted centerpiece of a wine collection.
Do Most Millionaires Own Expensive Wines?
Reading this story reminds me of Thomas J. Stanley’s recent book called “Stop Acting Rich: And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire“. In the book he devotes an entire chapter to those who aspire to be wealthy – and how for many of them – talking about wine, owning wine, having a wine collection and a wine cellar are cues to themselves, and they believe others, that they are successful. They think if they can talk about and understand wine, and display their importance through social cues like owning and talking about fine wines, that others will think that they’re successful and refined as well.
Because having a big wine collection is thought of as an indicator of wealth by many, it is often included in marketing to wealthy individuals. For example, many custom homes include a wine cellar as part of the home.
Funny thing though – only a small percentage of millionaires actually own expensive bottles of wine. Thomas Stanley’s survey of millionaires found that only 7.3% of the millionaires surveyed own a bottle of wine that retails for more than $100. But nearly 4 in 10 have wine of the $10 or less variety. In other words, while some of them may drink wine or have some wine on hand, only a minority own anything that might be considered “fine wine” or “vintage wine”.
So if you really want to be wealthy, my suggestion is to steer clear of silly status symbols like this expensive bottle of wine, and work on doing other things that millionaires do that lead to success.
What do you think about this expensive bottle of wine? If you had the money would you ever consider buying an expensive bottle of wine like this? Would you drink it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
Last Edited: 2nd November 2010