History was made in the Cape Winelands when a rare bottle of Grand Constance 1821 reached a record-breaking R420 000 at the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction. Picture: Supplied
History was made in the Cape Winelands when a rare bottle of Grand Constance 1821 reached a record-breaking R420 000 at the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction. Picture: Supplied

Why would you want to own a bottle of wine worth nearly R500 000?

By David Biggs Time of article published Jun 15, 2021

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I am often amazed by the prices people are prepared to pay for items I consider totally value-less. I read recently about a historical bottle of wine that was sold on auction for nearly R500 000 (WATCH: Grand Constance 1821 wine bottle breaks wine auction record).

I am sure it is an item of vast historical interest, but I can’t understand why anybody would actually want to own it. You are unlikely to drink it, because it’s long past its sell-by date. And if you were to open it, all you’d be left with would be a very old empty bottle.

Half a million bucks seems a lot for an empty bottle. I suppose the owner would need to insure anything as valuable as that. What sort of annual premium would an insurer demand for such a rare item?

Those who know me will agree that I do not regard wine lightly. I treat it with considerable respect. I even serve on judging panels to assess the quality of wines.

But I consider wine as something to be consumed, not watched.

To me the idea of paying a vast price for a bottle of old wine is akin to paying a thousand rand for a lamb chop that was once served to Henry VIII. Of what use could it possibly be? Would you have a special display cabinet made for it and allow friends to enjoy an occasional glimpse?

An antique chair or table can at least still be used as a seat or a place to put your glass of (drinkable) wine, but an antique helping of food or drink can serve no purpose at all, as far as I can see.

Wine and food gives me great delight, but only while I consume it. Once my glass is empty or my plate is clean, it’s gone: just a pleasant memory.

I realise there are many who will disagree with me and point to rare artworks or exquisite jewellery as items of great value, but I believe that’s not the same.

You can leave your inherited diamonds or original Van Gogh painting to your daughter or son, to give them and their children lifetimes of pleasure, but will your descendants derive any pleasure out of years of watching an old bottle of wine get older?

I’ll get more pleasure from emptying a R50 bottle of Swartland Pinotage. And I get to keep the empty bottle just the same.

Last Laugh

The political candidate called on a resident and asked “Reverend, may I count on your vote in the upcoming election?”

“Before I answer that, tell me, do you partake of alcoholic beverages?”

“Before I answer you, is that a question or an invitation?”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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