What Makes a Wine Expensive?

Wine is often known for being one of the pricier beverage options available, and with some bottles on the list of most expensive wine in the world reaching into the million-pound price tags, you may be wondering what makes some wine so expensive. In this article, we take a look at some of the factors which can affect the price tag of your wine, and why some bottles have such high prices. 

Cost of Production

From vineyard to retailer, your wine has to embark on quite the journey before it can reach your glass. With each step of this production process, additional costs are added to the price of the wine. Alongside the price of the actual wine, costs of transport, distribution and packaging will also play a part in the overall cost of the bottle. Each bottle will also be heavily taxed, both with VAT and duty charges for imported wine. To get a higher quality of wine, a higher price will typically need to be paid, as this will see more money going towards the actual wine, rather than solely to these other factors.


Another factor that makes wine expensive is prestige. Whether its wine from a traditional French Chateaux that has been producing wine for hundreds of years, or from an exclusive winery in California, there are a number of very prestigious names in the wine world that fans of this drink will happily pay big money for. For French wine, having Bordeaux or Burgundy on the label is likely to see a higher price tag accompanying it, as these regions have become renowned for their luxurious wines. 

Likewise, the names of certain brands, such as Rutherford and Screaming Eagle – some of California’s best – are enough to create a higher price point. In fact, several of these wineries have become so prestigious that there are waiting lists of several years, involving thousands of people, all attempting to buy a bottle or two.



Wine can be a highly collectable item, and various factors can lead to certain bottles receiving a very high price at auction. Firstly, the scarcity of the bottle is crucial to the price of the wine. Rare or limited edition bottles will typically be of a higher price, simply as there is more demand and less stock available of them. This is particularly the case with such prestigious wines as those mentioned above, as wines that are only available through a waitlist may be sold on at auction quickly, and for a far higher price, by a lucky wine collector who got their hands on a bottle early! Age also plays a part in this, as the older a bottle of wine is, the less available it will be.

Another key factor for collectability is the novelty of a bottle. A great example of this is shipwrecked wine, which, when discovered in a drinkable condition, often fetches high prices at auction. Likewise, a bottle of Lafite Rothschild 1787 sold for £105,000 in 1985, as the buyer believed the bottle to have once been owned by Founding Father (and wine enthusiast) Thomas Jefferson. The same can be said for trends in wine, with cult sellers or specific types of wine that are in fashion seeing higher demand.



Another way in which wine gains staggeringly high prices is at charity auctions. Many of the top priced bottles of wine in the world are as high as they are due to the fact that they were sold at auction to benefit charity. In fact, one of the most expensive wines in the world has gained that title due to its auction price; the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet was sold for $500,000 at a charity auction in Nappa Valley in 2000.

Regardless of the price of your wine collection, ensure that it is kept safely and in the best conditions by storing each bottle in a Liebherr wine cabinet.

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