We've all heard stories of the dusty, cobwebbed bottle of wine, long forgotten, that turns out to be worth a fortune. Any truth to those tales?

The value of wine
Sorry to say, most bottles of wine that turn up after decades of storage aren't going to make anyone rich. Only a small percentage of wine is so-called "investment-grade," meaning that it will appreciate significantly in value over time. Also, too often the environment in which the wine has been stored is poor. Fine wine ages long and well in a cool, dark, relatively humid place. Prolonged storage at room temperature or higher will prematurely age the wine, eventually spoiling it. The value of an old wine depends a great deal on its "provenance," which means its ownership history and storage condi

To learn what your bottle is worth, take it to a fine wine retailer and ask for an opinion. A good wine merchant should be able to give you an approximate value and suggest how to dispose of it. You can also plug the wine's name and vintage into an Internet search engine and see if any values come up. tions.

Wine auction houses are another avenue. Butterfields of San Francisco and The Chicago Wine Company run fine wine auctions and post prices on their web sites. You can contact them about the value of the wines you may be interested in selling. Other auction houses include Sotheby's and Christie's.

Be aware that it's not easy for an individual without a liquor license to sell one or two bottles of wine. Most auction houses have minimum consignment requirements. If the liquor laws in your state permit, a retailer may be able to take your bottles on consignment.

Feeling generous? The easiest way to realize some value from a bottle or two of old wine is to donate them to a charity auction for a tax deduction. That way you benefit, and so does a worthy cause.

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Comments on "Vintage wine: What's it worth?"

abby January 12, 2014 | 5:21 PM

hi im trying to find out how old a bottle of wine i have is its imported from italy its martini and rossi asti spumante that is what the label says it says bottle number is 605926 and the serie is 15ma420 any help would be wonderful thank you

kelly munt January 09, 2011 | 12:05 PM

hi my grandad has ha a bottle of wine for years and was wondering how much its worth now i said i would find out as he just lost my nan anyway the wine is piat le piat de boujolais controlee mis en bouteille par piat pere & fils negociants eleveurs a macon s &l depuis 1849 cep d`or 1979 beaujolais maconnais thank you for any help you can give.

jim December 27, 2010 | 12:09 PM

I have a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1967. I would like to know what it's worth.

David Pass April 27, 2010 | 7:29 AM

I have a Jeroboam bottle of 1989 BV Georges de Latour just wondering what it might be worth Thanks

mike spano August 22, 2009 | 10:07 PM

I have a botttle of 1966 Chianti Superiore from italy with a serial number on it. is it worth anything?

Cal Poppen May 05, 2009 | 9:09 PM

I have a bottle of Sebastiani Proprietors Reserve 1979 Barbera. I would like to know if it has any value! Thanks for your time Cal

diane folkerts December 17, 2008 | 9:58 AM

could you please tell me the value of the following wines... Weber Zller Schwarze Katz 1998 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (Germany) wine and also Reserve St Martin, Syrah Rose 2003 (France)wine. thanks for your help.

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