Whenever I interrogate my serious wine friends about what’s new and great in the wine world, besides actual wines, I always get the same response: Coravin wine preservers. These mechanisms may look like overly complicated wine bottle openers but they do a whole lot more than pop corks. If you’ve ever stared longingly at a good bottle of vino agonizing over whether or not to open it for fear it won’t be finished, Coravin has the problem solved.
The main thrust of Coravin’s wine preservation system is that it allows you to pour from any bottle without removing or damaging the cork. It accomplishes this via the insertion of a hollow needle to extract the wine. Before you pour, the device also sends in argon, an inert gas, to pressurize the bottle and prevent the oxidation of what remains. When used properly, the Coravin system can preserve wines — reds, whites and anything in between — for months or even years.
For those who love tasting, this means unlimited access to your collection and the ability to drink bottles at a pace you decide without any risk of them turning. If you buy good wines but don’t care to drink them in one sitting, you’re free to pour a single glass of that special Châteauneuf-du-Pape whenever you darn well please, and then pop it back on the shelf for later. It’s also a great buy for someone who cooks with wine since you can add a cup or two to a recipe and save the rest for later — much later.
Since the Coravin launched 10 years ago, the price has dropped significantly, making it less of a luxury item for the elite sippers. The Massachusetts-based company has also launched two more Coravin models that serve different purposes. The slightly less versatile (but also less expensive) Coravin Pivot, as well as a Sparkling system to preserve the effervescence of Champagne and other bubbly wines; something the founder previously thought was not possible.
In this quick guide, we’ll outline the three Coravin wine preservation systems, how they work and how much they cost so you can choose the best one for you.
This is the original and most versatile Coravin model of the three. This system will puncture the cork so you can pour wine while also pressurizing the bottle to keep the remaining liquid safe from harmful oxygen. When used properly, the Timeless system allows you to pour from and preserve an unlimited number of bottles. You can also safely access and pour from a single bottle about 25 times, which is far more than you should ever need to.
For my money, this is the best Coravin. The starter package includes the Coravin, one argon bottle and a needle cleaning tool and normally retails for $150 (currently on sale for $112). Replacement argon canisters are about $8 and each one should be good for about 10-15 bottles of wine depending on how much gas you need per bottle. (You’ll hear a hiss when argon is being emitted and when that sound stops, it’s time to replenish).
You can also add screw caps, aerators and more argon canisters at a cost.
The Pivot was launched only a few years and also repressurizes wine with argon to keep it fresh after opening. The key difference between this model and the original Timeless is that the cork is removed for preservation with this system and a special topper is put in its place to pour from. There is no needle involved.
That means the integrity of the seal is damaged and you can really only keep wine at optimal freshness for about three or four weeks. You must also purchase extra Pivot stoppers or a bundle with a few stoppers to repressurize and “recork” multiple bottles of wine at one time.
If you’re not someone who likes to taste lots of wines simultaneously but are looking for a way to drink the bottle or two you’ve just opened at a slightly slower pace, this is may be the best option. The Pivot starts at $99 and includes two stoppers. Extra stoppers cost $30 for six.
This is the latest addition to the Coravin lineup and one that founder Greg Lambrecht wasn’t sure they’d be able to pull off. This model doesn’t spike the cork, nor does it use argon to prevent oxidation. Instead, it repressurizes the bottle with good old-fashioned CO2 and a patented locking stopper to keep things bubbly and fresh for up to four weeks.
The Coravin Sparkling even has a pressure Indicator that glows green when a Coravin Pure Sparkling CO2 Capsule has done its job and the bottle is ready to be placed back in the fridge for later.
It’s not cheap, clocking in at $400. But for the fine sparkling wine drinker, this opens up a world of possibilities for tasting the good stuff at a pace of their choosing.