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CORAVIN - YES OR NO?

I work at a restaurant that seats around 100 guests and I do wine pairings with our tasting menu that changes every two weeks. However, we don't sell enough wine pairings in those two weeks to guarantee that the guest is getting a fresh wine every time. To prevent the wine from spoiling I use a Coravin that fills the void in the bottle with an inert argon gas. In your opinion, do you feel this alters the integrity of the wine in any way?

  • I don't, we use a Coravin for a lot of wines. When tasting each time the wine holds it flavor and structer.
  • The Corvine is great. It is, however, absolutely crucial that you click the trigger before you use it and expel any oxygen that might be in the system. Otherwise, you're shooting a bit of oxygen directly into the wine!
  • I had my doubts but they have left in a hurry. Opened a bottle with about a third left in it after 72 days and it was close to perfect. I am a fan.
  • I love it. It has allowed me to expand the glass list, especially for the business guys when the rest of the table is drinking Bud Light, or for pregnant husbands.
  • I am for it, I have been using mine for a while now with no oxidation issues (like Garrin mentioned, make sure you hit the trigger prior to use). Actually, there was a previous thread addressing the topic of Coravin and faux corks, where the majority of us had no issues, and I just realized I needed to update that information when I read your question. I had no issues with the Coravin and synthetic corks at first, but if you use it on one of these bottles, do it only ONCE. I accessed a bottle more than that and the needle hole was unable to close back up; wine leaked everywhere and the remainder oxidized.
  • I guess I will be the dissenter. I see significant changes and oxidation is most wines after a couple weeks of accessing a bottle via Coravin, even when correctly purging the needle prior to plunging it. For 5-10 days, the wine in a partial bottle seems just fine, so I think it is a real asset with a pairing/btg program that has decent flow through, but not enough to just pull the corks.
  • In my experience the wine does change very slightly over time depending on the number of times the wine has been tapped and the fill level in the bottle. As long as you are using up the bottle in a months time there shouldn't be any problems. If the bottle has a low fill just pull the cork and make sure you are factoring waste into your markup.
  • You can also invest in an argon canister. You can buy a large one from a welding shop with a gun on it and just shoot the argon into the bottle at the end of each night. This will give you a little over a weeks mileage out of the wine before any detrimental changes, and the tank is very cheap to refill.

    Also, if you are having trouble selling wine pairings, perhaps you can adjust the price of the pairing or just get rid of it all together and focus on a larger selection of half bottles.
  • We've had great success with the Coravin. It works so well that closed wines will still be closed and will need guest explanation or ideally extra time to open in the glass.
  • We tested it by tasting wine side by side with week old-half full-coravined bottles and fresh ones and could tell the differences right away. Also when sales rep bring in samples to taste using coravin and I always notice oxidation if the bottles aren't fresh. I think if you're offering expensive bottles by the glass the guests should get to enjoy them at their best, so we didn't go that route. I'm with on this, go with half bottles.
  • I am a heavy Coravin user.   The system is pretty good, but it's far from perfect.  Here is what I've found so far:

    -You should purge the needle with gas after every use.

    -Wash the needle at least dialy, or after every use if you have the time.  Wine gets oxidized and that smells bad.

    -If the cork is cold, (below 15º C) it will loose elasticity, so when you use the Coravin and retract the needle, it will leak and oxygen will get into the bottle.  You can do these things to avoid it:

    • You can warm up the cork.  Using your hand for a couple of minutes will do the trick.
    • You can pull the needle out from the bottle slowly, or in a two-stage approach, so that way the cork has enough time to seal itself, even if it's cold.  I usually do this if I'm not in a hurry.
    • Store your bottles above 15º C

    Once the needle is removed put the bottle upside down and if the cork leaks, game over.

  • Good question!

    We won a Coravin in a contest and I used it, but noticed that over a few days there is a noticeable difference between the taste of what remains and what you would hope the wine to taste like, so for now the device is collecting dust.

    Also, due to the pouring mechanism, I wouldn't want to use this device on a wine with significant sediment. Likewise, I would not want to use it on a bottle with an older cork.

    Which doesn't fit in with my preferred type of wine to feature in the extreme cost per glass price range: a nicely aged bottle.

    What i do when I want to pour an older wine btg is make sure it's the right night, with a good chance of being able to sell to our guests, or use in wine pairings. Then I go out there and sell it.

    This has always worked for me so far, with the only drawback being if you only have one bottle of a certain wine, you can only get so many glasses out of it, and may not be able to re-sell additional pours to desiring guests (once the bottle is gone).

    If that happens, and the night is right, open another bottle to wow!
  • Hey Adam, it's been a while. I was wondering how long you have been able to keep a bottle using a coravin? I have one for the house to work on my blind tastings and don't want to let the bottle cork.
  • I tested it at home with Rodney strong cab and had no issues even after 6 months
  • I use a coravin for BTG, and the biggest potential problems for wine integrity I have encountered are
    1) failure to clear air and liquid from system prior to using and
    2) a needle and/or pour spout that have residue of previous pours in it. I unscrew and run warm water through the needle and then through the pour spout at least daily if not more frequently, and immediately before and after using coravin to pull a glass, press the trigger a few times to blow wine residue out.

    A couple of other coravin tidbits i've picked up over time -
    *realize that any argon in excess of what was necessary to pull the glass exits the pour spout (the hissing noise at the end) creating a layer over your glass of wine which traps its aromatics. Swirl the glass a few times before serving to your guest to blow off the argon.
    * natural cork does not immediately expand to seal the hole made by a coravin needle. Store the bottle upright till the hole has sealed...I give mine at least 1/2 hour. Making repeated (6+) punctures (especially in the same area of a cork) probably compromises its integrity at some point, so I limit pokes to 4. Plenty of leeway to glass out a bottle of wine.

    Hope this helps!
    Cheers,
    Lauren