The Economist has a brief history of the wine industry:
Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, used navy ships to smuggle his favourite wines from France. The most expensive one he bought was old burgundy, but that—as now—was available only in tiny quantities. So he relied largely on claret, buying four hogsheads of 24 dozen bottles of Margaux and one hogshead of Lafite every three months. In a single year his wine bill amounted to over £1,200 (£100,000 today).
By my calculation, that works out at about $28 per bottle — for wines which would cost you about $500 per bottle today. No wonder the English drank their claret in such great quantities!
(HT: Daniel Lippman)