More on the Coravin, a remarkable wine serving device

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Back in October, I wrote about the Coravin, having seen one in action for the first time. Yesterday at a tasting of high-end wines at London merchant Roberson, I had my first proper encounter with the device as a tool of the trade. It’s such a game changer.

From the point of view of the Roberson guys who I spoke to at the tasting, this has really altered how they work. They sell a lot of wine to restaurants. In the past, if you were an agency girl or guy, you’d take some samples, and show them to the restaurants you were pimping wine to during the course of the day. Then you might leave the rest of the bottle with one of the restaurant people. It’s incredibly costly in terms of samples, even if you get a few free from the producer for this purpose.

With a Coravin, you can select the samples you take on the road, and pour what you want. And then you can reuse that sample bottle next time, and the time after. You can get around 20 samples out of a bottle, over a course of months. It’s massively more efficient. And it means that you can take grand bottles to good clients, without worrying about the cost of wasted wine. One of the Roberson folk described Coravin as ‘pretty much essential’, after having used it for a while. Roberson are about to get their third device. The official EU launch has crept back and back, and is currently targeted as September to October, but still some devices have made it into the UK.

The tasting they are putting on during the London wine fair involves some smart bottles, and Coravin allows them to use the same bottle over all three days of the tasting without anyone feeling they are getting a slightly out-of-condition sample.

But there is a faint cloud on the horizon for Coravin. Today news broke that seven bottles have broken while being used for Coravin sampling. It seems that some bottles, already weakened, might break – but it hardly seems to be quite the scare story that some of the wine media are turning it into.

I’m surprised by some of the coverage. It’s as if some of the wine press are wanting this device to fail. I can’t see why, because I think it’s an incredibly positive development for fine wine. Coravin are delaying further sales until they have enough neoprene sleeves to ship with each device, the idea being that you apply a sleeve to each bottle to protect from any breakages. But the chance of breakage using this low pressure argon delivery device is so small, I suspect no one will ever use these sleeves.

Here’s my video of the Coravin in action:



8 comments to More on the Coravin, a remarkable wine serving device

  • fatfred

    I just took delivery of some first growth that seem low in the neck…..better check the capsules for pinholes.

  • In the event that the market for EuroCaves drops out and Daniel is seeking alternative employment, he would make a convincing teleshopping presenter.

  • I think you’re right that the press on these bottle breaks is far from justified. It’s been a huge benefit to the distributors I work with since, as you mentioned, they no longer need to open all the bottles they pour. However, I suspect the negative press is still wrapped into profits. Someone, somewhere is losing money due to Coravin sales.

  • Kate

    That is funny because I thought the press when Coravin debuted was ridiculous in the other direction. It’s groundbreaking! It will change the wine industry as we know it! Etc.

    Seven bottles is not many, but if fewer bottles are being opened, as you say, then the percentage of them breaking relative to the number being opened is much higher than seven among however many distributors would have opened if they left each bottle behind.

  • Nice one Tony. A normal bottle can take 10x the pressure Coravin exerts internally. Far more chance you’ll drop a bottle on your foot or floor. Do I need steel toe capped boots everytime I open a bottle?

  • Matteo

    Good point Jamie. Its all about faulty glass.I worked several years as a sommelier and I can not tell you how many bottle’s necks chipped/broke/snapped over that period. No one ever blamed the corkscrew

  • I think US “Lawyers” are involved and the the bottles were probably “dinged” somehow and may have been at higher altitudes when accessed, or the Coravin failed, the cartridge pressure is 2200 psi and the design of the regulator that releases the gas is copied from a SCUBA regulator, I’ll continue using mine…………….

  • Damien

    Not such a “game changer” in the trade if you specialise in, say, Australian or New Zealand wines I’d imagine; how’s its track record with screwcaps?

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