What's a bottle of 1865 Burgundy worth?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

My father bought a bottle of 1865 Bouchard et Fils Beaune at auction in the early 1980s. There doesn’t seem to be much buyer interest due to its lack of provenance, and I presume it’s undrinkable. What can I do with this bottle?

—Andrew, Chicago

Dear Andrew,

Wow, what a piece of history. I’m not surprised that wine merchants and auction houses aren’t interested in it, however. As you’ve discovered, it’s difficult to generate sales interest in older wines without detailed records indicating where the wine has been since the time it was made, how many owners it’s had and how it has been stored (collectively referred to as its “provenance”). Additionally, merchants and auction houses are typically more interested in large collections as opposed to single bottles.

That’s not to say no one out there is interested in your bottle; you could try selling it in a private online wine auction. Outside of selling it, you can either keep the bottle in the family as a personal heirloom, or find a reason to open the bottle and celebrate your father. Chances are good that the wine is long past its peak, but it’s still safe to taste, and it could be a fun memory to taste a wine that was made more than 150 years ago.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny cellars storage Collecting Auctions Aging Wine

More In Dr. Vinny

What does "père et fils" indicate on a wine label?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains a few of the French terms you might see on a …

Jul 5, 2022

Once chilled, must a wine stay chilled? Is it ruined if it warms up again?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny debunks the myth that wine shouldn't be chilled and then …

Jun 27, 2022

Does Pinot Noir come in both red and white versions? Are they the same grape?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how red wines get their color. (Hint: It's not …

Jun 22, 2022

If you're supposed to hold a wineglass by the stem, why are stemless glasses so popular?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of stemless …

Jun 13, 2022

How much do our taste buds influence our perception of wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains how taste sensitivity impacts our …

Jun 6, 2022

What's the shelf life of a box of wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains why box wines aren't meant to …

May 31, 2022