June 8, 2020 – Yes, it is possible to enjoy a glass or two of wine, preserving its quality and characteristics without uncorking the bottle using a cool gadget called Coravin Three.
If a wine consumer typically opens and finishes a bottle in one sitting, Coravin provides a new option, a new opportunity. Once the bottle is uncorked, it is best consumed relatively quickly. Here is where Coravin makes sense.
By-the-glass, maintaining quality
Since users can enjoy wine by the glass at home without uncorking the bottle, savoring over time, even over years in some cases, users get the best of having it now and having it later, much later.
With this appealing thought in mind, I evaluated Coravin Model Three, the company’s current $199 entry product.
I have friends with extensive wine collections consisting of hundreds of bottles with many stored 40 years or more. Sure would be nice to check on one or more to see how they are doing, to enjoy from time to time over time! Coravin is a product that caters to these users as well as unsophisticated wannabe wine learners like me.
It’s all in the wrist
In one fluid motion Coravin grips the bottle and pierces the cork with a needle. Tip the bottle over a glass, press the trigger to inject inert argon gas. The gas provides the oomph to nudge out the desired amount of wine. When done, tip the bottle up to stop pouring. In another smooth motion pull Coravin up and off the bottle. The needle is removed and, assuming the cork is in good shape, the hole seals itself. It really is all in the wrist.
Watch the YouTube demo at the HOW IT WORKS TAB a bit down the page, and be sure to click Insert, Tip, Pour and Preserve to the left of the video demo window.
The older I get, the more I enjoy wine. I think it’s fun to try different wines at different parts of a meal. As many as three or four different wines would be nice, starting before dinner, then with appetizers, enjoying something different with the main course, and then wine with dessert. With Coravin, this becomes easy and guilt-free even at home. The Coravin experience promises the first glass of wine will taste the same as the last, even years later, in most cases.
About screw-top bottles
Now is a good time to address that last point, “in most cases.” As indicated earlier, Coravin devices come with a needle to pierce the wine cork. What about screw-top bottles? Not all of the better wines are cork-sealed. New Zealand, for example, allows only screw tops and some of their wines are highly regarded. Spain, on the other hand, still mandates their wines be sealed with cork.
Coravin Three includes one screw-top cap. This unique replacement cap is designed to replace the original and to be punctured, then self-seal up to 50 times while preserving the character of what’s in the bottle.
Coravin instructions indicate that screw-top wines using their adapter cap are not going to last as long as wines with actual corks, so it is suggested that these be consumed within about three months, if not sooner. Still, this is better than simply screwing the original cap back on. Additional caps are available in a six-pack for $30.
The included protective sleeve may be used over any bottle. Why? In the extremely unlikely event that the bottle is unknowingly compromised, the entering pressurized gas might trigger a mini-meltdown, wherein the bottle goes poof. The sleeve is provided out of an overabundance of caution, the result of very few reports of this phenomena from a few years ago.
In the box
One Coravin Three with needle attached. One screw cap. Two gas cartridges. One protective sleeve. The usual paperwork.
And the results?
Does Coravin work? As best I can determine, the answer is yes! Here is what I know. During testing, it did as advertised, pouring wine from a corked bottle AND from a screw-top bottle. The cork re-sealed with little “bleeding” and the screw-top delivered wine and then seemed to re-seal.
The wine delivered per pour comes slowly, owing to the fact that it is extracted through a slim needle, not a wide open bottle. I found this of little concern in exchange for the benefit of leaving the wine in its bottle in the original state of unopenness.
I tried Coravin Three with an inexpensive corked Hungarian semi-sweet Merlot from TJ’s and with the budget-priced screw-topped German Dr. Heidemanns – Bergweiler Dornfelder semi-sweet as recommended at my local Total Wine & More.
Contrast this with the way I used to open a typical bottle of wine (probably you, too). Using my favorite wine opener, I would try to force the cork back into the bottle OR I would just cap it with a versatile (and highly recommended) Haley’s Corker, with its built-in and very effective aerator. I never intended to keep those wines around for very long after opening. Maybe that is one reason I had not invested in wines for the longer haul. Now the longevity concern is no longer there and I can be more adventurous. Haley’s Corkers are still handy to have, make great gifts and work flawlessly for the purpose for which they are intended, for those wines not meant to be sampled or savored over a long period.
While on the topic of actually opening the wine bottle, I have used and recommend this design cork remover for decades, often referred to as a Pinzon Penguin or Rabbit wine opener. When used according to directions, these have never failed me. For those preferring automatic cork removal using the same technique, get a rechargeable model.
Ready to buy and give Coravin a try?
Get Coravin Three from Amazon
FOR STILL WINES ONLY
Coravin is not for use with sparkling wines, so enjoy that prosecco, champagne or other wine with sparkle immediately after opening. Hopefully, it will be good to the last drop.
What I don’t know
Here is what I cannot say at this moment. I cannot tell you that a red wine I try today will pass the taste test in five, 10, or 15 years from now. I can only say with confidence that the mechanics of the Coravin system delivered as promised.
More Coravin facts
Needle talk – Coravin Three comes with one needle, the “standard” needle. Replacements here. A three-needle kit with three sizes for three distinct needs is here. Each needle is made of stainless steel with a non-stick coating and is expected to last through “hundreds of uses.”
Care & Cleaning – Here. Yes, it should be carefully rinsed after use.
Order one or more Coravin argon gas capsules here.
According to the manufacturer, “Each Capsule will allow you to pour up to 15 five-ounce (150ml) glasses of wine.”
According to the manufacturer, “On average, a 150ml (5-ounce) pour of wine with a standard needle will take 25 to 29 seconds.”
Here’s mud in your eye!