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

Why are grapes harvested in bins instead of in a big truck bed?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large plastic bins are ubiquitous in wine …

Dec 5, 2022

What is “reverse osmosis” in relation to wine? How and why is it used?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science (and the motivation) behind the …

Nov 28, 2022

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on selecting wines for the Thanksgiving …

Nov 21, 2022

What is a “second wine”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the "second wine" concept and what it means in …

Nov 14, 2022

Is it bad if an old bottle of wine has sediment in it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that sediment happens—and how to deal with it.

Nov 7, 2022

Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there's a reason that sommeliers show …

Oct 31, 2022