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Collecting Q&A: Where Can I Sell Wine I Dug Up?

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: October 11, 2007

Q: I have found a few bottles of wine under the pavement when digging out a courtyard. They were wrapped in newspaper dated 1938. Where may I offer these bottles to collectors or auctions?

A: What an intriguing story! However, wine that has been buried underground for nearly 70 years, without proper temperature and humidity controls, is a highly dicey consignment. To determine the wines' worth, if any, more information is needed. Are the labels still intact? If so, what do they reveal in terms of vintage, producer, wine region, etc.? If the labels have disintegrated, carefully cut the bottles' capsules and check the cork for information. What are the fill levels (the distance between where the cork ends and the wine begins)? The greater the spread between the two, the higher the risk. The Auction Calendar in the Collecting section of WineSpectator.com and Wine Spectator magazine contains contact information for commercial auction houses. Your bottles also may be worth money on the antique market.

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