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Most Expensive Wine in the World

Published by Nanni on Monday, October 01, 2012

Photo credit by Joe Shlabotnik

Is the most expensive wine in the world the best wine in the world? For affluent people who are also wine connoisseurs, price is often no object when searching for that perfect bottle of wine. No Three-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s for this crowd. For these people, a loaf of freshly baked bread, a wedge of delectable cheese and an aged, frequently expensive bottle of wine all combine to make a memorable and satisfying evening. But just how much are these wine drinkers really willing to spend for that perfect bottle of the grape?

The price of the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was for a rare bottle of Bordeaux in 1985. The wine, from Thomas Jefferson’s collection, came up for auction at Christie’s in London. The Chateau Lafite, bottled in 1787, sold for an incredible price of $160,000, making it the most expensive wine ever sold. Although the wine itself was rare, the price went up even higher because Thomas Jefferson’s initials were etched on the glass. Since even the best wines in the world eventually become vinegar, the bidder bought the wine for his collection only. Another bottle of wine from Jefferson’s cellar sold at auction for almost $57,000 in 1986. The Chateau d Yquem was a 1784 vintage.

A more recent wine, a 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, came in as the second most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. This particular wine was thought to be from one of the best vintages of the 20th century. Also sold at Christie’s in London, it drew a check of $114,614.

As with the 1787 Chateau Lafite, both the Chateau d Yquem and the Chateau Mouton Rothschild were purchased for collections. But in 2001, a 1978 Romanee-Conti, which was certainly drinkable, drew a whopping $24,000. More common prices for the 1978 vintage have ranged from $6,000 to $9,000 throughout the 2000s.

The cost of wine depends on several variables, with the most important factor being the weather at the time the grapes were grown. Plenty of sunshine produces excellent grapes for wine. The name of the wine can also affect the cost, with some wine lovers preferring only wines from a certain company. At one time, French wines dominated the market as the most expensive ones, but in recent years have faced stiff competition from Australia, Chili and the United States. Wines from the Napa Valley in California enjoy an excellent reputation among today’s wine lovers.

Wine connoisseurs look at four distinct elements when choosing a fine wine: color, clarity, smell and taste. A red wine isn’t just wine that is colored red; it can be ruby, garnet or maybe brick red. White wine is frequently not white. It may be golden, amber or perhaps pale yellow. Clarity refers the opacity of the wine. Younger red wines are more opaque than older red wines, which tend to be quite translucent. Smell is another important factor. Some wines smell fruity. Others may have a citrus or a woody scent. Finally, taste is usually the most critical element. Wine connoisseurs look for the attack phase first, or how they immediately experience the taste. The evolution phase refers to the actual taste of the wine once it has settled on the palate. The finish is the aftertaste after the wine is swallowed.

Wine lovers willing to pay exorbitant prices take into consideration all these elements. But for most people, the choice comes down to simply how the wine tastes and if it can be purchased for a reasonable amount.

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