I have a bottle of 1986 Bellingham Cabernet Sauvignon that’s been lying in my cupboard for a long time. Is it valuable? What would a wine like this be worth today?
Probably nothing. A Cabernet that’s been lying in the bottom of a cupboard for 25 years is likely to have turned to poor quality vinegar by now. Some old wines are sold for enormous prices at auctions, but these are usually wines that have been stored in perfect conditions. For it to age well, wine needs to be kept at a constant and cool temperature and disturbed as little as possible. The wine should preferably be kept in the dark. Your wine probably warmed up during summer and cooled down during winter. It might have been joggled slightly each time the cupboard was opened. Any serious wine buyer who is offered a 25-year-old wine will want to know exactly how it’s been treated from the time it left the winery. You’d be unlikely to find a buyer willing to take a chance on paying a high price.
However, not to be too pessimistic, there are often surprises in bottles of old wine. Maybe you should invite a wine-loving friend or two to share your old bottle one evening. It could be an exciting treat. We’d recommend, though, that you keep a reserve bottle of good wine handy in case yours has not survived.