There has been much talk about Coravin in the wine-trade for the past year, but what is it and why has it caused such a stir…
What is Coravin?
Coravin is a wine ‘access’ system. It enables you to pour any quantity of wine you wish from a bottle, without removing the cork. What wine remains in the bottle is preserved and drinkable for many years to come.
How does it work?
The Coravin system has a thin, hollow needle which is inserted through the capsule and cork into the bottle. Argon gas is pumped through the needle, creating pressure within the bottle that pushes wine back out through the needle. Argo is an odourless, tasteless and harmless inert gas so has no impact at all on the wine.
Once you have poured the amount of wine you need from the bottle, the needle can simply be removed, leaving the argon in place of the wine, preventing it from being oxidised. The cork reseals itself, so protecting the wine against external influences.
Who is behind it?
The inventor of Coravin is Greg Lambrecht, a man with a background in physics, mechanical engineering, nuclear power and medical devices – and a love of wine. He developed the system in his home wine cellar after coming up with the idea when his wife was pregnant and was not drinking wine. He wanted to continuing enjoying a couple of glasses without having to polish off a whole bottle and so his dream became to magically pour wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork.
What are the benefits?
For those like Greg Lambrecht who want to enjoy just a glass or two of wine without finishing a bottle, Coravin enables you to do that. For those who are learning about wine it is potentially invaluable enabling you to assess many different bottles without having to open and consume them all in a short period of time.
For guests at our restaurants the opportunity is clear. While few of us may be in a position to enjoy a truly great wine like a 1985 Chateau Mouton Rothschild or would want to spend the money on a full bottle, now it is possible to try it and enjoy the experience without having to pay for the whole bottle.
Andres Ituarte, head sommelier at Avenue in St. James’s was one of the first people in the country to get his hands on a Coravin system. He says: “There was little to no press about Coravin when I started at Avenue eight months ago. My initial thoughts were simply excitement because there are so many possibilities to change a traditional wine list with Coravin and I couldn’t wait to introduce my customers to it.
“Taking it home for the fist time was interesting. Playing around with it on different bottles brought me back to being a child and getting that Christmas present you had been coveting all year! It was by role-playing at my dining room table that I figured out the best way to serve and use the device as if I was on the restaurant floor. Because it’s small, Coravin is perfect for table-side service and it can bring back some of the romanticism of ordering wine that is lost with stelvin closures and Enomatic systems.
“When I was working on the Avenue wine list, I originally thought that we could put all 250 of our wines on by the glass and carafe but as the wine list started to take shape, the idea of having a large section of reserve wines by the glass started to make more sense. Finally we settled on the idea of having a small vertical of Mouton Rothschild and Opus One all by the glass.
“The reception we have had has been great. People are fascinated by the simplicity of the machine and the fact that the wine keeps indefinitely and matures at the same rate as full bottles. As we move forward here at Aveune, I see Coravin becoming an even larger part of the list and our dining experience.”