The most expensive quaff

Ernest Hemingway declared wine to be "the most civilized thing in the world". And the bottle sold at an auction recently would have to be, selling for $33,600.

07 Nov 2007

The 9-litre bottle, the equivalent of 12 wine bottles, was sold at auction in aid of restoring Renaissance art and architecture.

At an estimated 400 times its normal market value, coming in at almost $500 a glass, the Salamanazar bottle is described as a 'unique specimen', with a gold engraving in place of a label. It contains Ornellaia, a red wine produced in Livorno, Tuscany.

"It is not surprising that this kind of curious design from one of the finest Italian winemakers has attracted such high bidding," said a spokesman for auction house Christie's.

The buyer was an American, Michael Corlinns, who flew especially from Seattle for the sale and won the auction in 50 seconds, having bid $28,000, to which Christie's 20 percent commission was added.

As well as the giant bottle, Corlinns receives a six-day tour of the vineyard and Florence. The cash from the sale will go to renovate a set of 15th century decorative bronze doors by Renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti.

An October survey revealed that Italians spend, on average, 8 euros ($11.57) for a bottle of wine, or 10 euros for a special occasion.

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