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Thomas Curtius MW

My Experiences with Coravin

A punctually great device

Over the past few days, some of you have contacted me about my opinion of Coravin. In short, the system that allows you to take wine from a bottle without removing the cork. I’m practically one of Coravin’s veterans. I already ordered my device directly in the USA in 2014/2015, when it was not yet available in Germany. Since then, I have used it to ” coravinize” hundreds if not thousands of bottles.


How Coravin works


The Coravin system is now available in various models, colours and variants – even with an Internet connection. But all are based on the same basic principle. Wine is removed from a bottle through the cork with a surgical needle (there is also an attachment for screw caps). Neutral argon gas replaces the missing quantity. When the needle is pulled out of the bottle, the elastic cork closes the puncture channel by itself, and no oxygen can enter. This allows these bottles to be stored as if the liquid had never been touched. Theoretically at least.


Coravin has many advantates


Coravin saved me an incredible amount of money, especially during my Master of Wine studies, by allowing me to use the bottles again and again for training. Those who appreciate expensive Bordeaux and Burgundy know what I mean. Now I like to use Coravin, for example, before I run tastings. To find out whether a particular wine (of which I have no extra bottles) is in good sensory condition, or whether I need to reschedule for tasting.

Many of my friends and colleagues also use it in the restaurant or wine bar, of course, to offer guests high-quality wines by the glass.


When Coravin reaches his limits


Like any technology, Coravin seems to have its limits. The protection against oxidation naturally depends mainly on the quality of the cork. If it is not elastic, Coravin also allows oxygen to penetrate the bottle through the puncture channel. Although there is also a thinner needle for old and brittle corks, in my own experience even the best cork is no longer guaranteed to be tight after seven to eight punctures at the latest.


Especially with delicate, fragrant wines, I subjectively notice aroma changes from time to time, which have nothing to do with oxidation.

Some – by far not all the fillings – seem to have lost some nuances of aroma weeks after the argon treatment. Or the aroma profile has somewhat changed. Notably, if you have replaced more than a third of the wine’s content with argon. But hey, as I already mentioned – this is my subjective perception and not validated. Besides, no system is perfect, and the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages for me.


Tips for handling Coravin


Of course, the problem is often not in the system, but in front of it. Coravin is easy to use, but sometimes still tricky. Two small tips for proper handling: Before inserting the needle into the cork, make sure to remove the oxygen from the needle by briefly pressing the argon button. Otherwise, it will be transported together with the argon directly into the bottle. This must be avoided, especially if the wine is to be stored for a long time afterwards. Second: After pulling out the needle, I turn the bottle around briefly. This ensures that the cork is immediately remoistened with liquid.  This makes the cork expand again more quickly and closes the puncture channel. Make sure you put your thumb on the cork to prevent any leakage. Just like taking blood from a doctor. Simple but effective.