Why concern yourself with wine preservation? Doctors now say that wine has benefits, yes, but one five-ounce glass per day is the healthy limit for women. Alas, that’s bad news for singles or couples who wish to enjoy quality wine at home! There aren’t many options of single-serving and split (half a standard 750-milliliter size bottle) wines on store shelves. Once a bottle of wine is opened, it just usually doesn’t hold well; wine in contact with oxygen, even in a tightly capped bottle, quickly deteriorates. Few wines stand up overnight, let alone two or three days or more. Vacuum contraptions? I’ve yet to find one that is effective (and not a pain to use.)
But, I recently sampled a wine preservation product now available which makes it possible for home consumers to remove wine from a bottle and prevent oxygen exposure to what’s left. An MIT-educated medical device inventor and avid wine lover developed the Coravin™ wine preservation system as a solution to his own quest to enjoy his cellar of fine wines in moderation.
The Coravin wine preservation system enables you to pour and serve wine in any quantity without the pressure to finish the bottle. The wine preservation system’s key is a hollow needle used to pierce the cork without removing it from the bottle. As wine is poured through the needle, pressurized argon gas displaces it. Once the amount desired is poured and the needle removed, the cork naturally swells, resealing itself, keeping the wine free from oxidation and allowing it to continue to age.
Serious collectors intent on storing a wine to its finest can draw a taste of a special vintage as it ages. Famed wine critic Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate attests to the Coravin wine preservation system’s effectiveness. Our own resident sommelier, Tricia Conover, concurs. “I use it to enjoy my high-end wines that I either want to drink slowly or want to see how they age over time,” said Prime Women wine editor Conover. Breaking out a significant wine for a gift or special occasion? The Coravin wine preservation system allows you to taste ahead to ensure it’s good to go.
Wine bars and restaurants have used pressurized argon or nitrogen gas for years in systems costing thousands. The Coravin product is a boon, not just to consumers, but to bar and restaurant operators who wish to offer customers a large selection of wines by the glass at an approachable cost.
The Cost and Where to Find It
The system is not cheap, but it’s a value given the extended life it affords to pricey wine. Tiered options include the Coravin Model One Wine System, the Coravin Model Two Wine System with a dark graphite finish and rapid-pour needle, and the Coravin Model Two Elite Wine System available in red, gold, or silver finishes. Each system comes with two gas canisters adequate for 15 five-ounce pours. Replacement canisters run $9-10 per canister, purchased in pairs.
The Coravin products are available at select culinary and wine retailers and on Amazon.com. The company is currently advertising a 30-day risk-free trial for units purchased directly at www.coravin.com. Coravin is also offering a refund of the purchase price and shipping costs of returned systems should you be dissatisfied.
The tool does not work, of course, for wines sealed with artificial corks or screw-top closures. But, given the vast majority of fine wines are bottled with natural cork, it’s a wine preservation tool worth considering for anyone who wishes to savor a bottle over time.