The Coravin has been around for awhile, but I personally never thought it would be useful. I figured if I wanted to try a wine I’d just open it and drink it. I didn’t need a system that would allow me to access wine without opening it! And it definitely would never take me more than 2 days to knock back a bottle (rarely more than a few hours actually…) so what is the point??
As my collection of wines has grown and my ability to purchase some higher end and rare bottles has grown, I think I have finally figured it out (at least for me personally). I LOVE to taste wine. Especially comparative tastings; new world pinot v old world pinot, different AVAs of Napa, different producers of Gevrey, vertical tastings of Chave (ok that one is a dream) etc. I also like to host people to do tastings because 1) I don’t drink it all myself then which is probably good for my health 2) I can often nag people into contributing a bottle or two. But I have found that as I age (and now have to provide care for a small human that is completely dependent) I can’t knock back the same amount I could when I was in my 20s and function. Given that my community of local wine nerds is small, I often ended up with several bottles that were still half full after such an event. And after one of these tastings it was very common that the next day I either didn’t want to drink (no not because of a hangover, because I’m being responsible) or if I did, I wanted to drink something different. Sadly, more than one of these wounded soldiers ended up in a sauce or even down the drain. Since I can’t really afford to dump out 1/2 a bottle of wine regularly, I started thinking of alternative options. Enter the Coravin!
I also began to think about some of the precious gems that I have been able to acquire and when I might want to drink them. I’m finally getting to the point where some of the wines that I purchased early in my venture are getting close to peak. How devastated would I be to open a bottle of Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin only to find it needs another 5 years! Especially since that was my only bottle!!! Or open a well aged Jamet Cote Rotie and find that it needed to be drank 5 years earlier! Disastrous! How can I test taste these bottles without opening them? Enter the Coravin!
So with those scenarios in mind, I decided to bite the bullet and get one. They aren’t cheap ($299 for the model I picked up and that doesn’t include the future argon refills), but I felt like I had hit a critical mass both in life and in my cellar that made the price worth it. So far I must say I have been quite pleased with it. It is easy to use and seems to function exactly as advertised. The needle goes through the cork quite easily and the argon pressure system works like a charm. It is easy to clean and it looks pretty sweet. For my first test I had a little tasting with some friends recently on a work night and instead of bringing one or two bottles to sample, I brought 4! On a work night! But with the Coravin in tow, I poured small tastes of all of them and left with 3/4 of each bottle still (supposedly) intact! And we all woke up sans headaches the next day which was beautiful. I also occasionally get home from work late after my wife has already headed to bed. Sure, I could just go to bed also, but after a long and hectic day I generally need (yes need) a glass or two of wine to relax and be able to fall asleep. In the past I would simply open a bottle planning to drink 2 glasses and then it would just taste so damn good (this is one of the “problems” of having lots of really nice wines) that I would drink pretty much all of it. Again, not great for sleep, health, or functioning the next morning. Now I can poke the needle through the cork, squeeze some argon in and have a glass or two without opening it. Yes I realize if it tastes really good I could still end up drinking it all, but psychologically it is different if the wine isn’t “open”. I don’t think, “well I might as well just drink it because it may go bad in a day or two if we don’t finish it”. Because the wine isn’t open! It seems to work for me anyway…
So, I am overall quite pleased with the purchase at this point. Of course, the true proof is still to come… I have yet to Coravin a taste and then come back to that wine a year or three later. Will it actually still be good? Or will it be oxidized and undrinkable?? That is the unknown at this point. I am planning to do some testing at different intervals to assess this before I really trust it. Taste a bottle that has been Coravin’ed at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, a year, etc. As I do that, I’ll come back and update this with further data and insight. If others of you have used these for long intervals, I’d be interested in your experiences as well.
So, if you have any of the above issues, check out the Coravin and consider it. It opens options for cellar management that didn’t previously exist!
And in case you are wondering, I get nothing from Coravin (unfortunately). These are simply my true thoughts on the product. And I paid for my Coravin with my own money…