Changing how we enjoy wine or just another fancy toy?


Can you imagine being able to enjoy a glass of wine from any bottle in your cellar, without pulling the cork, or starting that bottle on a path to oxidation and deterioration?

Over the years, we wine lovers have all been inundated with pitch after pitch from companies trying to sell us wine preservation systems.  Some use pumps, some use gas and one even encases your entire bottle in a wine coffin, along with tubes reaching into your bottle like something out of Frankenstein’s lab.  In the end, no one seems to have been able to pull it off without a hitch.  Suction doesn’t last, inert gas isn’t perfect in an open bottle and not everyone can afford an Enomatic tasting machine.  After all the hype and sales pitches, I’ve resorted to decanting into a half bottle, corking it and keeping that half bottle in the fridge; but still, half the wines don’t last past 24 hours without degradation—until now, because we now have Coravin.

Coravin is a remarkable new technology that seems so simple, yet was only thought of in the last 14 years by a medical technology researcher.  The process is easy, and the results are astounding.  A small needle is inserted into the cork of any bottle; the bottle is then pressurized with inert gas, allowing the wine to pour freely, and as the needle is removed, the cork reseals itself with the argon gas left in place of any added oxygen…simple, right?  Honestly, it is, and to watch the process and enjoy a wine that was first tasted two or more weeks beforehand truly seals the deal.

My quality test was at the Coravin launch party, where I had the opportunity to taste three bottles of the same wine (a bottle I’ve tasted before at trade tastings, 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano), but these three bottles all came from different tables at the event, and each had been tapped by the Coravin and tasted within a two week period.   Each had different amounts of wine left in the bottle, and each tasted nearly identical.  What’s more, I’d be hard pressed to say that they tasted any different than the pop-n-poured bottle I had at a trade tasting earlier in the year.

The possibilities are endless.  Imagine not having to open a young bottle of wine to test for maturity; instead you can simply try one glass (Coravin’s creator attested to tasting the same wine over ten years).  Imagine having a tasting at your home and the leftover wine being completely safe and able to be stored away until you feel like enjoying it again.  Or imagine being able to have ten wines up and ready to taste at any time in your kitchen—you choose what the lineup will be each night.

I will say that I was skeptical until I saw it in action.  To hold this item in my hand and pour a glass and to taste all of these bottles that have been tapped over the course of weeks, and have them taste so fresh, is amazing.   I left this tasting with one thought in mind—I must buy one.

However, grounded in reality, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things.  For one thing, each argon gas capsule (coravin proprietary product) is capable of twelve to fourteen servings.  The unit ($299 from Coravin direct) comes with three capsules, and replacements are around $10 each.  Second, although Coravin stands strongly behind their product and states that mature corks are completely safe with Coravin—I can’t help but think of some of the difficult corks I’ve pulled out of 30+ year old bottles (in the end, I will be buying a unit and will end up testing this out myself).  Lastly, although not a single bottle at this tasting showed signs of seepage, an imperfect cork will seep.  Coravin works under the principle that a wine’s cork has created a good seal—you can’t hold them accountable for an inferior cork.

That said, I do intend to buy this product.  I left the tasting—giddy.  I must admit that Coravin is the next evolution in wine preservation; it’s not just hype.  Get ready for a paradigm shift.  

As for the 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano – The nose showed an elegant intensity as a mix of rich raspberry, cranberry, rose, potpourri, exotic spice and minerals seduced the senses.  On the palate, I found dark red fruits, exotic spice, earth and tar, yet somehow there was weightlessness to this wine’s massive presence.  A balanced structure began to show toward the close and lasted through the finish.  This wine was feminine, yet massive in its layers of fruit and structure.  It should be even better in ten year’s time. (94 points)

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  • Snooth User: sigh j
    486401 17

    Very interesting article but I was quite confused by the phrase"allowing the wine to pour freely". The phrase seem to follow pressurization of the bottle with the cork in place.

    Aug 13, 2013 at 1:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Ed59
    1303866 20

    It Works!! The Founder visited me in March 2013. He inserted the Coravin into my bottle of 1982 Cos D'Estournal and we drank half of it that night, a wonderful wine. Last week I removed the cork and drank the rest of that bottle, it had not changed at all, still wonderful. He left me his bottle of 1997 Phelps Napa cab that he drank half of in 2010. I removed that cork and finished the bottle last week, fresh as a daisy!

    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:03 PM

  • More and more wines are going to screw tops, which is a better solution than a cork. Screw tops render this device useless, though.

    Aug 13, 2013 at 6:39 PM

  • Snooth User: SGD
    610727 21

    My thoughts precisely. Screw caps are now the predominant seal, so the issue persists

    Aug 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

  • Snooth User: foodchow
    1324482 26

    but with a screw cap, whatever air entered the bottle after it's initial pour is still there. My understanding is that this process removed the air and replaces it with gas.

    Also the screw cap hasn't been around long enough to trust with expensive wines although it is fine with everyday wines.

    Aug 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 198,229

    Sigh j, you read that right. I know it's hard to visualize but this really does insert into the cork and extract the wine, while leaving the cork intact, to reseal itself after the needle is removed.

    John & SGD, I must agree with FoodChow here. The quality of corks continue to increase now that the industry is starting to take screw-caps seriously. The percentage of corked bottles has plummeted and I know for a fact that many of us (including me) don't want our wines in the long-term cellar to be sealed with anything other than a cork.

    Aug 13, 2013 at 8:45 PM

  • Snooth User: MiltonM
    1332240 19

    I have one I got the first week it was released. I love it! I've used it on cork and synthetics, even though they only guarantee effectiveness with real corks. So far it seems to be working fine in the synthetic but we'll see over time. My take on that issue is that for less expensive wines that use synthetic corks, if I get an extra week or two out of an accessed bottle, it's still a huge win over anything else I've tried. Clearly it's designed for more expensive wines which still predominately use real cork. I'm thinking the long term result, if Coravin turns out to be a success, is that the industry will be pushed back to cork by demand.

    Aug 15, 2013 at 9:31 PM

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