A glass of wine can be a highlight of the day. Either a happy hour with friends or after a long day of work, that glass can be an ideal way to unwind. But what if you get home from that stressful day and you only want one glass? Or you and your partner want different glasses of wine?
You’d either re-cap that bottle and hope too much deterioration doesn’t occur or decide to go bottoms up with the entire bottle. Now, there is a new option. Enter Coravin.
Wine geeks are an interesting lot, dogmatic in learning and the search for the next great taste. One wine geek, in particular, wanted to figure out a way to have wines by the glass but noticed there wasn’t a device that could effectively protect the wine from oxidation after that first pour. So Greg Lambrecht, inventor of the Coravin, created something that could do this.
Here is how the Coravin works in a nutshell: a thin, hollow needle goes through the foil and cork, which pumps inert gas into the bottle, and then pushes the wine out. The cork is naturally self-closing, and the wine is waiting for its next use. His dream to have a pristine glass of wine on demand is realized.
The wine world took notice. Restaurants in New York and San Francisco started using the Coravin device (the Coravin people refer to it as a ‘wine access system’) to acclaim. However, Seattle has been slow on the uptake. The only restaurant that I’m aware of that has a Coravin in the Seattle area is Woodinville’s The Herbfarm. They use it for checking on bottles and the integrity of the wine or for a small pour of premium rare wines. They are the exception and not the rule for local restaurants, which is interesting because wines by the glass programs are cash cows for restaurants. But the wines often aren’t of note; typically low cost wines that easily turnover for sales.
Imagine a customer eyes a fancypants bottle they’ve yearned to try and wanted to taste. But you can’t sell it by the glass, because they’d need to buy the whole thing. With the Coravin, you can sell that wine by the glass and charge a pretty penny. Suddenly your entire cellar inventory has the opportunity for a wine by the glass program.
It can be good for consumers too. For example, I have a friend who acquired her dad’s cellar of vintage wines and isn’t sure what’s still drinkable. With the Coravin, she can drink and taste with abandon. Or she could have a party, show off the Coravin, and tap into that cellar. In my informal poll of asking people if it’s a device they’d use and has value at $300, most said yes. I chalk this up to a generational shift of Gen X or Millennial wine drinkers. We expect customization and variety. We want things now. And wine drinking is no different. We may want a red wine from Spain today, a white wine from Oregon tomorrow, and not waste any wine along the way.
As it stands right now, the only retail shop I know of that sells the Coravin is the Total Wine in Bellevue. I recently visited to see if they had a demo unit to show off. But they did not, as their units are for retail sale only; thus, they haven’t been able to use them for floor use. From what the staff at Total Wine told me, their customers have been happy with the Coravin and they only had a few left in stock. And for those left in stock? Under lock and key, next to the First Growth Bordeaux and other showoff wines. But maybe with the advent of the Coravin, the chance of tasting those wines by the glass is much more likely. Cheers to that.