I read recently that a buyer paid R11 500 for a single bottle of 1929 French wine. Is any wine worth that amount, and when is the buyer likely to drink such an expensive wine?
No. No wine is actually worth that amount, but you could equally well say that no painting is actually worth a million dollars, although prices far higher than that are paid for artworks. Firstly, the wine to which you refer was sold at the Nederburg Auction in aid of charity, so it was, in fact not a true reflection of value, but a very generous donation to two worthy causes. The buyer will probably never drink the wine. Like an old work of art, it’s a collector’s item, to be admired and wondered about. Would it still be drinkable? What would a Chateau d’Armens taste like after 80 years? Once it’s opened, of course, there’s no mystery left. And no wine. Just an empty bottle worth nothing. So it will probably be given a place of honour in the buyer’s cellar and just sit there, providing food for thought for generations. Of course, you need to be quite wealthy to afford mysteries like that.