Showing posts with label Coravin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coravin. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Wine Gift Ideas

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, it is still a while before Christmas. Are you looking for some gift ideas for the oenophile on your nice list? Or are you the oenophile on your nice list? Let me share some of my favorite wine things. Hopefully they will inspire more ideas, whether you are going for the style, the sparkle, the splurge, or something else.

The Style

Be it going to a restaurant or to a party, every wine lover needs a good tote to carry that special bottle for the occasion. I have owned and lost several single-bottle wine totes over the years. Then my friend gifted me with this stylish two-bottle insulated wine cooler bag made by Legacy. I love the the elegant design of earth-toned cotton canvas and faux leather as well as the luxurious feel to it.

Legacy Two-Bottle Wine Tote

This tote must be bound to me by some magic spell because I have not lost it. Truthfully, it could simply be the fact that it is bigger compared to the single-bottle collapsible totes I used to own. I often carry my water bottle in the second compartment so that I can stay hydrated at any time. You will find many cute wine totes in the market. Select the size and style that fit your favorite oenophile and your budget.

The Sparkle

I love the sparkle of wine glasses and own a modest collection. For dessert wine or just little taste, I have small Waterford Lismore lookalikes and straight narrow bowl stemwares. For Champagne and other bubblies, there are flutes, coupes, and tulip wine glasses. Last but not least, I own stem and stemless glasses of various sizes for red, white, and rosé.

My wine glass collection
Does the shape or size of the wine glass matter? I think it does to some extent. For example, stemware lets you to hold the glass in a way that does not impart body heat to the wine. The bigger bowl in red wine glasses allows the wine to swirl and breathe, and the narrower rim directs the aroma to your nose as you sip the wine. As for sparkling wine, you get to admire the strings of bubbles traveling the length of the flute or spreading out in tiny bursts on the surface of a coupe. Pick something from the vast selection and enhance your oenophile’s wine sipping experience.

The Splurge

If you are going for the splurge, the Coravin wine preservation system is an excellent gift for the serious wine collector… if he or she doesn’t own one already. Coravin allows you to extract wine from the bottle without removing the cork. A hollow needle is inserted into the cork and pumps argon into the bottle to draw out the wine. The inert gas then displaces the space left behind. Unlike oxygen that will oxidize and age the wine, argon is non-reactive. The cork then reseals from the needle hole naturally.

My Coravin preservation system

With a three-figure price tag, Coravin is a great accessory for that respectable cellar. A wine connoisseur is often curious about how a special bottle of wine will evolve over time. You can buy several bottles of the same wine and open a bottle every year or you can just buy one bottle and taste it via Coravin over a few years. Or perhaps your wine connoisseur fancies a glass from a particular wine but not the entire bottle. Coravin is perfect for that too. 

My Verdict: Whether you are gifting a casual wine lover or a serious wine connoisseur, I hope this list of my favorite wine things will generate more ideas. But more precious than all these is the gift of friendship and the joy of sharing a treasured bottle together. Cheers to you and yours this holiday season!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Coravin, My First Review (Thank you, Prime Day)

Last year, I wrote about three ways you can save your wine when you can't finish a bottle. One of them is the cost-prohibitive Coravin wine preservation system. Then Amazon Prime Day happened, and I am now the proud owner of Coravin Model Two.

As mentioned in my last post, Coravin allows you to extract wine from a bottle without removing the cork. A hollow needle is inserted into and through the cork. Argon, an inert gas, is then pumped into the bottle through the needle to pressurize it, allowing wine to be drawn out through the same needle. Argon then displaces the space left by the wine. The wine in the bottle maintains minimum contact with air, preventing oxidation. The cork then reseals from the needle hole naturally.

Coravin Model Two Plus Pack

Coravin is best for savoring that special bottle over time, which allows you to experience the evolution of the wine. It is also terrific if you want to taste multiple prized bottles side by side without worrying that you have to finish all of them before they go bad.

So here is my first try at using my brand new Coravin Model Two. I am super excited to extract some wine from my bottle of 2012 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers. The drinking window for this wine is from 2019 to 2040, and I plan to taste it every year or so. (It probably won't last through 2040.)

A note about the instruction manual...

The multi-lingual "Getting Started" instruction manual that came with my Model Two was generally inadequate. It would have been better if it just pointed to the Coravin website, which it didn't. The Coravin website contains a robust set of instructions, both static and video. So if you are using the Coravin for the first time, just go to the website.

Step 1 - Familiarize yourself with the Coravin system

Compared to a regular wine opener, the Coravin system does have more components to consider. It is of course not a wine opener after all. Still the numerous components can be overwhelming at first glance. Take a look at the Coravin Model Two picture (see below) to get the lay of the land of all the components.

Coravin Model Two Components

Start with the needle (4). There should be a yellow needle cover at the sharp point of the needle to protect it from damage during shipping. Remove the cover.

Unscrew the capsule cup (8) from the system, insert the argon capsule (7), and screw the cup back.

Press and release the trigger (1) quickly to test the argon release. You should hear a hissing sound.

When using the Coravin, it should be positioned the same way you see in the picture above. The handle (2) is at the top, and the capsule cup (8) is at the bottom.

Step 2 - Prepare your bottle

While it may be optional, I would remove the foil from the bottle so that I can see the cork. It is important that the bottle has a natural cork. Synthetic corks do not reseal after a hole is punctured through them.

Clamping and positioning the bottle
You can use the bottle sleeve that comes in the box. It was Coravin's response to bottle pressure issues a few years ago. Apparently, the increased pressure from pumping the argon was causing some bottles to break and/or leak.

The instruction manual didn't indicate any of that so I didn't use the sleeve. Thankfully, I did not have any bottle issue. I suspect that Coravin has since figured out how to better manage the pressure increase.

Step 3 - Clamp the bottle and position the needle

While holding the Coravin upright by the handle (2), squeeze the clamp (6) to open it and release to close it. It works very much like a clothes peg or a hair claw. Use the clamp to secure the neck of a bottle.

Release and tighten the clamp as you adjust the position of the bottle till the needle guide (5) rests somewhat in the middle of the cork. This is to ensure that the needle goes through the cork safely without hitting the bottle.

Step 4 - Insert the needle and extract the wine

Once you are comfortable with the position of the needle guide (5), push the handle (2) all the way down firmly but gently. That pushes the needle straight down through the cork.

Pouring the wine

Lift the bottle with one hand and hold onto the handle (2) of the Coravin with the other. Tilt the bottle like you were pouring wine out of it into a glass.

Quickly press and release the trigger (1) to release the pressurized argon into the bottle. Your wine should be streaming out of the pour spout (3) into the glass. Repeat this action till you get the desired amount of wine. If needed, hold the bottle upright to stop the flow of the wine.

Step 5 - Remove the needle and detach the Coravin

Once you are satisfied with the amount of wine in the glass, place the bottle upright with the Coravin still clamped to it. Holding onto the bottle with one hand, lift the handle (2) firmly straight up with the other hand to extract the needle completely from the cork.

Squeeze the clamp (6) to release the bottle from the Coravin. You may see a drop of wine from the needle hole in the cork. This is completely normal. Give the cork time to reseal and then wipe it dry. It took me a few minutes.

Drop of wine surfaces on the punctured cork
After you are comfortable that the cork has resealed, you can test it by turning the bottle upside down. There should be no leakage.

Cork has resealed, and there is no leakage
Step 6 - Be a wine geek

I put a little post-it note on the bottle with the date I extracted the wine. Then I lay the bottle sideways in the cellar. Here's the geeky part - I started a spreadsheet and put down the tasting notes of the wine with the date that it was tasted. I look forward to trying the wine again in a year or two and compare notes.

Coravin Tasting Notes

My Verdict: While the proof is in the next pour a year from now, I expect nothing but stellar results from Coravin. The science is sound, and there are plenty of expert reviews on it. I bought the Model Two Plus Pack. It came with two argon capsules, three types of replacement needles, and a carry case. I paid $229.99 on Prime Day. While the price was nothing to sneeze at, it was a screaming deal compared to the regular price of $349.95. I now can drink that special bottle as and when I like rather than saving it for the right occasion.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Save Your Wine!

If you are like me, you'd love to have a glass of wine in the evening. You don't want to chug your wine and clean out a bottle all by yourself in one night or even two. You just want to sip and savor a glass. You do the math. If you get five to six glasses of wine from a bottle, will you finish the wine before it goes bad?

Thankfully the wine industry today is brimming with all kinds of wine preservation gadgets to solve this first-world wine problem. I'll share some thoughts about these gadgets in this post and even throw in one non-gadget solution that works surprisingly well.


Every wine geek with an impressive cellar seems to own a Coravin wine preservation system. I don't own one yet. However, I have benefitted from restaurants that have one, which allows them to serve some exquisite wines by the glass.
Coravin wine preservation system

Introduced in 2011, the Coravin wine preservation system leverages medical device technology to allow wine to be poured without removing the cork from nor letting oxygen into the bottle. The gadget inserts a hollow needle into the cork to extract the wine. Argon, an inert gas, is pumped into the bottle to displace the space left by the wine poured.

When the needle is removed from the bottle, the cork will naturally reseal, leaving the bottle intact. It's almost like watching a sci-fi movie. Needless to say, Coravin does not work with synthetic or glass closures since it relies on the "self-healing" power of cork.

For all its wonders, Coravin is also cost-prohibitive, starting at $200 for the basic model to over $1,000 for the latest offering with all the bells and whistles. And that is before you consider that each argon capsule used to preserve the wine in the bottle costs about $9 and is good for about 15 glasses of wine. It is definitely not for the average wine drinker.

Best for: Savoring that special bottle of wine over time, even years, to observe how it evolves. It also allows you to taste multiple prized bottles side by side without worrying about finishing them all.

Vacuum Seal Wine Saver

For many years, my go-to wine preservation gadget has been and still is the Sharper Image Vacuum Seal Wine Saver. It was a thoughtful gift from my niece, and it has saved many bottles of delicious wine. The wine saver preserves wine by sucking the air out of the bottle and sealing the bottle. This reduces the contact with air, which would otherwise oxidize the wine.

Sharper Image Vacuum
Seal Wine Saver
The vacuum seal wine saver is no competition to Coravin's inert argon. The seal is often less than perfect, and air leaks into the bottle over time. However, my trusty Sharper Image wine saver will suck air out of the bottle throughout the day. On average, it has extended the life of my open bottle to about 5 days without severe deterioration to its quality.

There are a myriad of vacuum seal wine savers in the market with varying abilities to preserve wine. The price range is definitely friendlier than that of a Coravin. You can get a manual version for as low as $10 and an electric saver can go up to $50-60. The downside for my electric saver is that it drains batteries very quickly as it sucks air periodically throughout its use. I can go through about two AA batteries every week with constant use.

Best for: Enjoying a really nice bottle for a few days.


Yes, you can freeze wine and apparently time too! This is probably the least expensive option if you already own a freezer. I actually got this idea from Wine Spectator Senior Editor, James Laube. There is some cred there. Nonetheless, I decided to try it for myself.

Freezing 2015 Pierre More Monthelie
I opened a bottle of 2015 Pierre Morey Monthelie this past Thanksgiving. After a couple of glasses, I put the seal back on the bottle and stick it in the freezer. A week later, I thawed the bottle for a few hours and poured myself a glass.

Viola! The thawed wine has retained not only the freshness of taste but also the aroma. I would not have known that the wine has been previously frozen purely from tasting it. The last glass had quite a bit of fine and almost sandy sediments, that was a bit unusual. But it was otherwise fine! That said, I probably would not freeze the wine for more than a couple of weeks.

Best for: Saving an open bottle when you have to head out of town for a few days or just because you are in a mood for a different bottle of wine but want to get back to this one again.

My Verdict: There is a wine saving technique for every bottle of wine that is worth saving. (Not all are!) And the price ranges from $0 to over $1,000. Consider the different scenarios and options. I think I'm going to use all three!