How much money would you spend on a bottle of wine? Most would probably keep that figure in the double-digits, perhaps inching into the low triple-digits.
For a select few, wine budgets are much, much larger. Purchased at auction, through specialty stores, or even paid out by insurance companies, these five bottles (plus one honorable mention) are some of the most expensive wines ever sold.
Château Cheval Blanc 1947: $304,375
The record for most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold goes to an imperial-sized bottle (equivalent to 6 liters) of 1947 Cheval Blanc. Despite being a very hot vintage, it is considered by many to be the finest wine of the century. This famed Saint-Émilion wine was purchased in 2010 by a private collector at a Christie’s auction in Geneva for 192,00 British pounds.
Price per glass: $7609
Heidsieck 1907: $275,000
A really old bottle of Champagne? Cool. A really old bottle of Champagne salvaged from a shipwreck? Super cool. In 1998, about 2000 bottles of 1907 Heidsieck were found aboard a Swedish ship wrecked off the coast of Finland. The ship had initially been destined for the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia when it was sunk by a German submarine in 1916, during World War I. Despite the fact that thousands of bottles were recovered, some sold for as much as $275,000.
Price per glass: $55,000
Château Lafite 1869: $230,000
The Château Lafite 1869 ranks as the most expensive standard bottle of wine ever sold, but, perhaps more remarkably, the sale was for a triplet. A single collector purchased three bottles of the 1869 Lafite, a first-growth Bordeaux, for a total of $690,000, or $230,000 each. Perhaps he overpaid; the wines were initially speculated to go for $60,000 each.
Price per glass: $46,000
Château Margaux 1787: $225,000
This famed bottle was technically never sold. The price paid, in fact, was a 1989 insurance payout to a wine merchant who brought the bottle to the Four Seasons in New York, only to have it dropped by a server. It was one of the famed Thomas Jefferson bottles, which were signed with the initials Th.J but never actually authenticated as part of Jefferson’s personal collection.
Price per glass: $45,000
Château d’Yquem 1811: $117,000
While this is not the fifth-most expensive wine sale (that honor goes to a bottle of Château Lafite 1787), it holds the distinction as the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold. One of only 10 bottles of this vintage offered by the iconic Sauternes producer, it was purchased by restaurateur Christian Vanneque from the Antique Wine Company in 2011. His intention? To display it behind bulletproof glass in his Indonesian wine bar, presumably to keep another rare d’Yquem company: Vanneque had previously purchased a bottle of the 1787 vintage for $100,000. The 1811 won’t be there for much longer, however, because Vanneque reputedly plans to open the bottle this year to celebrate his 50th year as a sommelier.
Price per 2 oz. glass: $9,360
Honorable mention: Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992: $500,000
The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was, ironically, a fairly young wine: the 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon from cult California producer Screaming Eagle. The reason it doesn’t top our list is that this imperial-sized bottle was not traditionally bought and sold; it was a charitable buy at the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction. You can actually purchase a standard-sized bottle of this wine for yourself for a mere $4,000 to $7,200, a fraction of what the bidder paid.
Price per glass: $12,500