What's a bottle of 1865 Burgundy worth?

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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

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