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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have two bottles of wine in the original gift package that I received as a Christmas present. They are from Marshall Field’s, a store that has gone out of business, but is still very important to the people of Chicago. Do you think the bottles might be worth anything? I was saving them for a special occasion, but I think the time has come to do something with them. The red is a Cabernet, and the white is a Pinot Grigio.

Mary Jeanne B., Chicago, Ill.

Dear Mary Jeanne,

That sounds like a lovely gift, and I’m sure that it has some sentimental value to you, or to fans or former employees of the department store. But while I’ve previously been probably a little too polite with this sort of frequently asked question, let me be a little bit more blunt and to the point and hopefully helpful: Your wine has no significant monetary value.

The sort of wines that are collectible and have a high resale value are rare in a specific way: They were expensive to begin with, come from highly-regarded producers in supreme vintages, and have reputations for aging well. Critical acclaim doesn’t hurt. Think: first-growth Bordeaux, the rarest of Burgundies, cult New World wines, that sort of thing.

Even if your wines have all of those factors, wine auction houses tend to deal in larger lots, and buyers will want some documentation of how the wine was stored to make sure it still has a shot at being drinkable. (Even under the best of conditions, a typical Pinot Grigio is likely to be past its prime after more than a decade.) You can look into person-to-person wine-auction sites, but don’t be surprised if nobody wants your wine. How about something more enjoyable? Find a friend who enjoys wine, open up that Cabernet (have a backup bottle on hand in case it didn't age well) and reminisce about the good times you had at Marshall Field's.

—Dr. Vinny

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