John Wilson: Is that bottle of wine worth €100?

How to Drink Better: Supply and demand dictates what wine makers can achieve for their product

Q. Can a bottle of wine ever be worth a thousand euros?

A. Is expensive wine worth the money? This is definitely a frequently asked question, one I am asked regularly. The quick answer is no.

There are some genuine reasons why a particular wine can be more expensive. The vineyards may be planted on the steep slopes of a mountain, which means everything must be done by hand. The vines may be very old and only produce a tiny yield. The producer may have discarded all but the very finest grapes and may have lavished expensive treatments like oak ageing on the wine.

It may be packaged in a heavy bottle (going out of fashion with climate change) and a branded wooden box, but other than the cost of buying vineyard land, there is a finite amount you can spend producing a bottle of wine. The rest is spent on marketing or retained as profit. On a sliding scale, I believe most wine drinkers would notice a difference between a €10 bottle of wine and one at €100, but anything above that might not be so easy.

We live in a world filled with luxury goods, where the strength of a brand is determined by how much over the cost of production we are prepared to pay for it. It is the same with wine. You are usually buying a wine that is produced in limited quantities or comes from a legendary vintage. According to the average price of a bottle of La Romanée-Conti from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, with average annual production of 5,400 bottles, is €67,500 per bottle — excluding taxes. I have tasted the wine on a few occasions and can assure you that while it is very nice; it is not 500 times better than a decent premier cru Vosne-Romanée made from vineyards a few hundred metres away.


The price of an expensive bottle of wine is simply a matter of demand being greater than supply. Wine lovers, collectors, investors and very wealthy people want to own one of those bottles and are happy to pay the premium. However, unlike a watch or work of art, once a bottle of wine is consumed it is worth nothing.