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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?

Parents
  • 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.
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  • 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.
Children
  • 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!
  • Any good tips for the daily cleaning?
  • As I said, try removing the needle and wash it down with warm water after every use. If you can't, at least every day.
    Some restaurants have two needles, one for whites and one for reds. You can buy a needle kit (4 needles) for around 60 bucks, and you'll get one thin needle (for delicate corks) one big needle (for faster pours) and 2 standard needles, not too shabby

    If you only have one, remember to wash it down between white and red pours.