Wine is no stranger to extreme prices, but few wines come close to the prices of these 10 most expensive wines in the world. Whether due to their rarity, age, quality, or all three, these wines are priced out of reach for most wine drinkers and into the stratosphere of multimillionaires and billionaires.
Here’s a look at ten of the most ridiculously expensive bottles of wine ever sold at auction (and one that wasn’t).
Clos du Mesnil 1990
It was bottled in 2008 and originally sold for $24,000 per bottle. Later it was sold to a Japanese buyer who paid $160,000 per bottle. This is an expensive wine and ranks as one of most expensive wines in recent years. It is a vintage wine that has not been replicated since then as it was made using special grapes that have since been killed by fungus. It is therefore rare but also out of production at present.
It is made using grapes from a French vineyard in Burgundy. It is also one of top wines and is one of world’s most expensive wines. However, it was produced in only five barrels. It has been put into auction by Christie’s where it has been sold for $168,000 per bottle, making it most expensive wine ever sold at auction. The price reflects its rarity but also because a lot of effort went into making it as some grapes were specially selected to make it.
While Chateau Margaux is widely considered to be one of Bordeaux’s most prestigious vineyards, Romanée-Conti may well be on a whole other level. This single estate produces both red and white wines that rank among some of Bordeaux’s finest. 1996 was a very good year for these grapes, giving us an amazing vintage; and one bottle in particular has become legend.
The Romanée-Conti 1996 sold at auction in 2011 for $156,000 per bottle – making it easily one of the most expensive wines in history! While there are many older vintages available (including ones dating back to 1878), none have been produced since 2003 and demand has been steadily growing over time.
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992
This wine, from Napa Valley’s Oakville district, sold for $500 per bottle in 1992—and for nearly $4,000 per bottle today. It was called the most expensive Californian red wine ever by Guinness World Records in 2007. That same year, a case of it sold at auction for more than $23,000. There are only 12 bottles left in existence.
Now, I’m not one to brag or name drop about my wine knowledge, but I was lucky enough to see a bottle of what is supposedly one of the most expensive wines in existence. Once sold for $160,000 (US), only six bottles exist in total with four belonging to one family. It was likely bottled around 1787 and it gets its price tag from both an amazing history and decadent blend that comes from owning vineyards in Northern France at that time.
This bottle comes from Chateau Lafite, which is in Pauillac, France. If you’re unfamiliar with Northern France, you’re not alone—many wine connoisseurs struggle to identify exactly where it is on a map. Originally founded in 1691 by Bernard de Carnesecq, Lafite has gone through many changes over its 300 year history and has been owned by several different people (including Napoléon Bonaparte) since it was first established.
Gatti Amarone della Valpolicella
During a tasting of Amarone wines in 1774, Austrian Prince Karl Wilhelm Ludwig von Schwarzenberg said he found a wine so perfect that it must have been made by angels. Indeed, good Amarone is beyond most mortals. However, Gatti’s Amarone della Valpolicella (named for its Italian DOCG region) is not only attainable but also affordable at $599 per bottle.
Yes, you read that right—this rare red garners more than 30 times more per glass than vintage Krug Champagne. With fruit flavors, an earthy tone and balanced acidity and tannins, it’s no wonder connoisseurs claim it could very well be Italy’s best Amarone. It’s worth every penny! This limited-edition wine hails from Veneto, Italy.
Penfolds Ampoule 1966
A single-malt Australian wine, Penfolds Ampoule 1966 was packaged in a bullet-shaped vessel made of platinum and encased in glass. It is one of only twelve produced. Cost? $168,400 (2006). The label reads: This is an ampoule containing wine from selected fine vintage years since 1844, when Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold first established Penfolds vineyard at Magill Estate near Adelaide, South Australia.
It was sold by Corney & Barrow London to English wine collector Richard de Grunne for GBP£157,250 or $233,187 (USD exchange rate). This makes it not only one of most expensive wines ever sold but also one of most expensive liquids ever sold.
Australia was first used to plant vines in 1606 by a British explorer, Captain James Cook. Other notable wine-producing regions in Australia include Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.
Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira 1815
Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira was first laid down in 1787 and was originally made to be a gift to George Washington. It was eventually sold at auction on December 11, 1985 by Christie’s at their London wine auction. This wine is classified as vintage port which is a sweet Portuguese red wine that spends time aging in barrels until it has reached its optimal flavor and acidity level. This bottle of vintage port is said to have been gifted to Washington in 1793 when Jefferson served as America’s minister to France. It is believed that after Washington died in 1799, John Adams became the owner of these three bottles which were later passed down from generation to generation until being sold for $8 million dollars.
Madeira wine is said to have originated in 1801 from a man named William Methven. Although Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira was sold off in 1985, it was still made using Methven’s techniques that he had developed in his cellars.
Château Margaux 1787
At a price of $225,000 per bottle, Château Margaux 1787 is considered one of the most expensive wines in history. For comparison’s sake, a skilled full-time worker making minimum wage earns about $15,080 per year. Your five-year investment of energy and education into your career could help you afford to drink it only once in your lifetime. Of course, most people prefer to get rich slowly by enjoying more affordable but delicious wines like Bordeaux and Rioja year after year. And when it comes to these types of wines—and many others—you can buy some pretty good bottles for less than $20!
This Bordeaux wine was bottled in 2012 after spending 138 years maturing in oak casks. Each bottle contains an estimated 2.5 liters of wine, and they are sealed with a wax seal bearing a signature of each winemaker that worked on it throughout its lifetime. Since its release, it has been sold to at least five private collectors and traded as currency by some international investors during business deals.
Château d’Yquem 1784
This Bordeaux, produced by one of France’s oldest and most prestigious wine producers, is considered a favorite in a range of ranking systems, including that of Robert Parker. Thanks to its exceptional storage conditions—it spent much of its life inside two porphyry vats known as baths at Chateau d’Yquem—this bottle offers complex aromas and an excellent balance between sweetness and acidity. Only 1,846 bottles were made available for sale in 2006 with price tags starting at $865 per bottle. A portion of profits from sales are donated to charity.
Having its own vineyard and producing wine in a biodynamic way, Chateau d’Yquem is one of France’s most prestigious wine producers. This winery can trace its history back to 1411, when it was purchased by Catholic monks. Since 1784, every vintage produced has been marked with an individual label made from a special copper-based alloy. Only six bottles were sold in 1855 for $102 each at Christies.