A slick, compact device being introduced at present to consumers, restaurateurs and retailers is about to change when and how enthusiasts are able to enjoy wine.
The device’s most significant impact is that it allows enthusiasts to sample the wines we have chosen to salt away in our home cellars without degrading what remains in the bottle.
In development for a decade, the Coravin Wine Access System allows users to pour and enjoy wine from a treasured bottle without pulling the cork. For the first time, wine enthusiasts will be able to enjoy wine by the glass without committing to the whole bottle.
The minute wine is exposed to the air it begins to oxidize. Coravin is not a preservation system however. It’s a system that provides access to the wine but leaves the cork in place.
Here’s how it works: First, a thin, hollow needle passes through the foil and cork to access the wine. Then the bottle is pressurized with argon, an inert gas that winemakers have been using for years. The argon pressurization pushes the wine through the needle so that it flows into the glass without letting any oxygen into the bottle. Once the needle is removed, the cork naturally reseals itself, and the remaining wine continues to evolve naturally.
During a celebratory roll-out at Bardessono last week, we got to meet Coravin founder Greg Lambrecht and learned his love for wine inspired the development of the Coravin system.
A medical device inventor and entrepreneur, as well as wine collector, Lambrecht initially conceived of Coravin one night while his wife was pregnant and not drinking. He wanted to enjoy a glass of wine from his collection but did not want to commit to the whole bottle and waste any of the wine he didn’t drink.
Lambrecht decided to devote time and energy to coming up with something that would allow one to sample some wine but have the bottle remain as if it had never been opened. What followed was a decade of development and testing until he came up with a system that delivered impressive glasses of wine, indistinguishable from untouched bottles, while never pulling the cork.
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“The unprecedented freedom to enjoy bottles of wine by the glass without fear of waste due to oxidation allows any wine lover to become more adventurous with food and wine pairings and to compare vintages and varietals,” Lambrecht noted.
Coravin works with anything made from natural cork. This includes technical corks that are made with crumbled cork that is glued together. It does not work with synthetic corks and, obviously, not with screw caps.
Not only does the Coravin system provide added enjoyment of home cellars, it’s also a boon to restaurateurs and retailers, allowing them to offer a much broader selection of fine wines by the glass. Now they can serve by-the-glass offerings from their best bottles without fear of waste, and encourage guests to try rare wines they might not have tried otherwise. They are also free to create special flights, verticals and new food and wine pairings, a Coravin spokesman pointed out.
“As a winemaker myself, I was very protective of the delicate nature of wine and took special care with the by-the-glass offerings at each of my restaurants,” noted restaurateur, winemaker and Coravin investor Joe Bastianich.
In press materials providing background on this new device, the well known judge on Fox TV’s “Master Chef” said: “Once I tried wine accessed six months prior with Coravin and tasted no difference, I knew this was a game changer. I now provide wine samples and glass selections from dozens of vintages and wines that we have never been able to offer, without any compromise in wine quality or waste.”
Wine authority Robert Parker has called Coravin “the most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been developed or invented in the last 30-plus years.”
The Coravin 1000, as the compact device is called, sells for $299 and is available for purchase only at coravin.com. It may be available at retail locations in the future but is currently available only on the website.
The argon capsules can also be purchased on the website. Each capsule will last for about 15 five ounce glasses of wine. The Coravin Capsule three-pack is available for $29.95.