When I first read about the Coravin, I didn’t know who would use it – the price tag alone ($300 USD) certainly means that it wouldn’t be used by the average wine drinker.
And then two days ago I read an alarming development: the Coravin has voluntarily suspended sales in light of reports of bottles fracturing when the system is used. Oops.
For a primer on the Coravin, check out a feature I wrote for Vue a few weeks ago. Essentially it’s a gadget that allows you to tap a wine bottle and extract a glass of wine without any impact to the future development of the wine – allegedly. Argon gas is injected into the bottle to replace the volume of wine that is withdrawn; this gas is inert and is used in other wine preservation techniques to keep wine fresher for longer (including the Enomatic and sprays like Private Preserve).
The Coravin is still a new product, however, and while the manufacturer claims that wines accessed a couple years ago have suffered no ill effects, definitive proof won’t be had until the general public has been using it for several more years.
Obviously it’s also a pretty serious problem that the Coravin could cause bottles to fracture. Seven injuries have been reported so far, though none of them sounded serious – and we don’t know if the system was being used correctly or not when the bottles broke. The company’s response, aside from suspending sales, was to send customers a neoprene sleeve that should be wrapped around the bottle before using the Coravin. A bandage solution if I’ve ever heard one, but I guess it would help minimize the risk of injury. Better than nothing?
Exploding bottles aside, it’s pretty cool technology and if I had an extra $300 lying around I would definitely get one. It obviously appeals to serious wine collectors who want to keep tabs on the development of the wines in their cellar. But it also solves the eternal dilemma of craving a glass of wine but being unwilling to open a whole bottle, lest the rest go bad before you get to it. I know, I know – the old joke is that this is never really a problem, but it sure wouldn’t hurt (your liver) to not feel pressure to finish a bottle in one evening, as easy as that may often be.
It also solves the eternal problem of conflicting wine moods – I want Dolcetto, you want (another damn) Malbec? WE CAN HAVE BOTH WITH THE CORAVIN. I can totally get behind it for that reason alone.
As you’ll read in the Vue article, only two Edmonton restaurants have embraced the Coravin: Daniel Costa’s Corso32 and Bar Bricco. I think we’ll see exponential growth in that number over the next few years, just like we did with the Enomatic. The Coravin is by far the more versatile and cheaper option, so it’s something that even newer restaurants could afford and implement with ease.
As for the rest of us everyday wine drinkers: let’s hope our families decide to splurge on the ubiquitous wine-themed Christmas present this year. (And that we only use it when we’re sober enough not to crush glass into our flesh.)