Today you can pour wine from a bottle without ever popping the cork. Yup, not kidding. The Coravin is a brand new kind of wine opener that inserts a pin-thin needle through the cork in a bottle of wine, so that you can pour yourself a glass without popping the bottle. (And no, this is not an advertorial, despite the staged press shots passed on by Coravin PR.)
San Francisco magazine took this new gadget for a test drive and we can report that it’s easier to use than a Rabbit, and it legitimately works. The needle pushes argon, a noble gas that won't oxidize wine, into a bottle. The gas displaces the wine so that you can pour it out through the hole that the needle is in. Once you've filled a glass, you detach the Coravin from the bottle top. The cork remains intact and the wine continues to age.
The only drawbacks we noticed were 1) The wine poured out slower than it would sans cork, in a very thin stream. 2) There was a tiny bit of cork shrapnel in our glass, but founder and inventor Greg Lambrect explained it as a result of the bottle being accessed over fifteen times in demos over the past weeks. We’d say the fact that you can preserve a bottle of wine after pouring out a glass majorly trumps both these minor issues.
Furthering our belief that the Coravin might be sticking around, Lambrect already has some major wine and restaurant people behind him. Internationally renowned wine critic Robert Parker called Coravin “the most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been invented in the past 30 years.”
According to CityBiz, it’s backed by 11.5 million in investments. Joe Bastianich, of Del Posto, Felida, and a bunch of other successful New York restaurants, is an investor. Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian are considering it for their restaurants. Locally, Acquerello, The Press Club, and 1313 Main in Napa are all already “avid users.”
So is this the kind of thing they’re going to be selling at Bed, Bath & Beyond? Not just yet. The initial model goes for $299 and will likely be used most by restaurants and serious wine collectors. The first slew of manufactured Coravins will be released for sale tonight at midnight on Coravin’s website, and we’re told they’re close to selling out, but they’ll manufacture more as soon as they do.
Lambrecht has invented twenty or so different surgical medical devices. “I’m very good at needles that don’t do damage to things,” he said during our meeting. For the past 13 years, he’s been developing this product, using vascular access needle technology similar to that for a spinal tap. For more on Lambrecht, see this piece in Wine Business.
And the product will certainly evolve. Lambrecht already has a lower cost product in the works for the casual home wine drinker. They’ll be expanding retail later this year. And there’s a more high-end model, with a metered pour and more argon gas, in the works for restaurants. In other words, you'll probably cross paths with one of these gadgets before you know it, and you might be drinking better wines more often because of it.