I’ve always been intrigued by the Coravin device. Since its launch a few years ago, I’ve always thought it was a great idea, but I never thought about buying it until now. I often open wine, but it often happens that the bottle is not finished. I’ve tried several ways of talking about wine, from pumps to vacuum the bottle to inert gas tanks, with varying results. So I have to say that, on paper, the Coravin is very appealing. Serving wine without even opening a bottle and being able to keep it for several months without the wine being altered seemed very interesting to me. So I contacted Coravin and asked them to test their product. They accepted with pleasure. I took the time to do several tests and here are my comments on the use of the Coravin Model Two Elite.
The Coravin Model Two Elite comes with two argon gas cartridges, a storage pouch and a small cleaning kit (in case the needle used to rack the wine gets dirty). Before using it, you unscrew the base of the Coravin, insert a gas cartridge and screw it back on. It’s that simple, your Coravin is ready!
How to Use the Coravin
I found the device quite easy to use. You quickly pull the trigger to make sure there is still gas in the cartridge and then use the clamps to place the Coravin on the neck of the bottle in a standing position.
Then, the needle is pushed down so that it penetrates the cork and comes into contact with the wine. The bottle is tilted and the trigger is pulled to pour the wine. The idea is to press as many times as you want to get the desired amount in the glass. The wine is then replaced by argon gas. Then, you put the bottle back in vertical position, you take out the needle of the cork and that’s it. The cork will automatically re-seal itself, because cork is a natural material that will regain its elasticity. Then, you just have to store the bottle in your cellar or your wine cellar. It will then be able to keep as if it had never been opened!
Maintenance is very easy. After use, the Coravin is rinsed lightly with water under the tap to remove excess wine from the spout. However, it is very important not to press the trigger under water as this could damage the machine. Then, we gently dry the needle with a cloth or a paper towel. And we store it in its case. Very simple. It can happen that the needle gets blocked (bad maintenance, damaged cap, lees, etc.). In this case, all you have to do is unclog it with a metal kit included with the machine.
I have used the Coravin on a variety of bottles: two 10 year old vintages (corks often tend to deteriorate), a magnum (longer and wider cork). Each time, I was able to use the machine without any problem. I then put the bottles back in my cellar and it was clear that the corks had sealed well since there was no trace of leakage when I checked afterwards. I took the 3 bottles out again a month later, and I used the wine from each of the bottles again. The conclusion? Convincing! The 3 wines seem to have not moved at all. According to Coravin, one should be able to keep a bottle for a very long time even after using the Coravin several times. The only problem that could arise is if the cork is really damaged, in which case the wine could leak and oxygen enter the bottle. Corks on very old vintages are more sensitive, which is why Coravin has developed a finer needle specifically for these corks. I did not test this needle, but I have to admit that the standard needle did its job on my two 2006 vintages…
Positive / Negative Points
The Coravin has several advantages in my opinion. The first one, as I already explained above, is obviously its ease of use and maintenance. Sometimes, you might want to have a glass of wine without necessarily wanting to open a bottle. This is for me the great strength of the product. Being able to drink a glass of wine from the same bottle several weeks or even months apart is something absolutely incredible for a wine lover! Another positive point is to be able to taste a wine to know if it is good to drink or if a long storage will not harm it. There is no greater frustration than opening a bottle on the decline… If, like me, you lack the space or budget to store cases of your favorite wines and sometimes only have one copy of a vintage, the Coravin is a great way to test the bottle so you know when to open it. In short, I find it particularly enjoyable to be able to take a glass of any bottle in my cellar, because I feel like it, and above all to be able to renew the experience when I feel like it!
And the negative points in all this? The main limitation is obviously the price of the Coravin Model Two Elite at 475 Canadian dollars. This is obviously not for everyone. Not to mention the cost of the capsules, about 18 dollars each (according to Coravin, each capsule allows you to pour about 15 glasses of 150 ml, or about ten glasses of 200 ml). The product is therefore not for the average person, but for the discerning amateur. The machine obviously does not work on bottles with a synthetic cork (the latter not being made from natural cork, it will not be able to reseal itself and the wine will therefore leak). Coravin has recently developed a system for bottles with twist caps. To do this, the cap is replaced by a stopper specially developed for this purpose 🙂
A few Tips
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR CORAVIN: You’ve invested in a great product, so take care of it! Clean the Coravin thoroughly after each use to keep the machine clean and effective over time.
- THE CUTTER IS STILL THERE: Do not use the machine on a bottle that contains 3 or fewer glasses of wine. The more the bottle empties, the more gas it takes to replace the wine in the bottle. There is no need to empty your cartridges. In this case, simply use your corkscrew!
- RESTAURATION: If you are in the restaurant business, the Coravin can be a good investment if you want to offer great wines by the glass. Your customers could then offer themselves a glass of great wine, if they can’t afford the bottle. On a recent trip to Warsaw, I visited several wine bars, and many of them were using the Coravin to offer almost the entire wine list by the glass!!!
- TRAVELING WITH THE CORAVIN: beware, it is strictly forbidden to carry gas capsules on a plane (considered flammable products). Don’t try to carry them, your suitcase will be opened and the capsules confiscated. Also, if you put your Coravin in your suitcase in the hold, it too may be confiscated. If you want to travel with your Coravin, bring it in your carry-on luggage, so that you can explain to the security officers what the product is. Before you leave, check the Coravin website to see if you can get capsules in your destination country. Personally, mine will stay at home. With the security that is getting tighter and tighter in the airports, I will not take any risk…
As a wine lover, I love using my Coravin. This is mainly for two reasons 1) to be able to test any bottle of wine in my cellar to see how it is evolving and when to open it 2) to be able to have a glass of wine from any of my bottles whenever I feel like it without having to open a bottle! Does the Coravin justify such a price? YES. Is it a good investment? That’s up to you. Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to use the Coravin Model two Elite if you drink $10-15 bottles. But if you are a lover of fine wines or good bottles, that’s another matter… I am very satisfied with it and I will continue to use it for my pleasure and that of my friends. Thanks to Coravin France for sending me the machine for free so that I could test it. Successful test!!! 🙂 Note that there is also a Model One, more affordable at 270 Canadian dollars (plastic finish and less ergonomic than the model two).