Enjoying wine more than usual, but finding your wine isn’t as flavorful? You could be making a mistake– and that’s why this review of Coravin may just be what you need.
Wine and beer sales are up, likely due the pandemic, with people ordering more and even looking into wine clubs and wine delivery services.
As recently as February 2020, predictions were less cherry: wine sales were slowing, many thought, for the same reason only in reverse. Wine industry experts worried that the overall economic hardship of the pandemic was the cause.
But by May, things were starting to turn around. While wine tourism has still suffered, many wineries have found a saving grace: soaring digital sales. In fact, as of May 2020, digital alcohol sales doubled from the year before, and 70% of those sales were from wine.
But just because digital wine sales are up, doesn’t mean people are enjoying wine as much. In fact, with fewer of us sharing wine, there are more bottles being opened without being finished in the desired time frame–meaning even the most delicious glass of wine can fail to impress.
In this review, I’ll cover Coravin, one of the most popular names in wine bottle openers and preservatives. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about keeping your wine tasting its freshest, and whether or not Coravin offers a wine accessory or product that’s right for you.
- Highly rated
- Can help wine last up to 3 months longer
- Sleek, stylish designs
- Can be used on most bottles
- Pricey, especially with regular replacements
- Can be hard for amateurs to use
Can wine go bad?
Before I get into my review of Coravin, I’ll dispel a myth: that wine never goes bad. While it’s true that wine can improve with age, and properly storing wine means that most wine can stay good to drink, or even improve, decades later, it’s also true that wine can go bad.
Very cheap bulk wine can go bad after only a year or two, but quality wine can last quite long. It’s when it’s stored improperly or after being opened that things can take a turn.
The wine you don’t intend to drink for a while should be stored sideways, preferably in a cool room or cellar on a good wine rack.
The best wine racks allow the wine bottle to be stored sideways at a slight tilt: this keeps the wine hitting the cork so that air perforations don’t form.
If the bottle is kept upright and the cork loses moisture, air can enter the glass and cause the quality to decline.
After you open wine, you’re exposing it to air. The longer and more fully that you keep the wine exposed, the more quickly it’ll deteriorate.
Once opened, most wine can last from a few days to a week, but how long it lasts depends on how it’s being stored.
For open bottles, you need the best wine coolers, whether they’re space-saving under the counter wine coolers or traditional, higher capacity wine coolers.
How do I tell if my wine is bad?
Luckily, it’s easy to tell when your wine has gone bad. While not as obvious as when, for instance, milk goes bad and sours, you’ll notice a big difference when you’re drinking.
The first way you can tell is by smelling your wine. Often, fruit-forward wines will smell less fruity on taking on damp or even musty smells.
The next way you can tell is by inspecting the hue and of the wine. As you pour it into a glass, you might notice that, with wine that’s gone bad, the coloration has changed–red wine will take on brown undertones, while white wine will have yellow undertones.
Of course, you can also tell wine has gone bad by taste: you’ll taste mustier tones. But I highly recommend not sampling wine you suspect that has gone bad.
What wine goes bad easily?
If you’re looking into a wine opener and preservation system like Coravin, you may wonder if, for the type of wine you drink, it’s necessary. While even the most expensive wine must be stored properly, it’s also true that some wine will go bad more easily than others.
Young red wine; sweet and fortified wine; young white wines; and any sparkling wines all tend to go bad more quickly. And if you’re not finishing a bottle within a sitting or two, that’s especially true.
What is Coravin?
Coravin may possibly be a solution to enjoying wine for longer periods of time–or so it claims. Coravin offers wine preservation systems that allow you to open a bottle of wine without it going bad as quickly.
While proper storage is still up to you, the idea is that you can open a bottle of wine and enjoy it tasting just as fresh a few days later. And right now, a wine preservation system is especially tempting, when many of us don’t have as many people to split a bottle with.
Now selling to 60 countries, Coravin made a name for themselves as the first major wine company operating on a global scale. Coravin began in the 1990s when founder Greg Lambrecht decided to apply his expertise in medical needles and apply it to a new way of preserving wine.
Inspired at a time only he was facing bottles of wine with no one to share them with, the MIT graduate spent 8 years developing the first Coravin device, the ModelC1000. Since then, the company has changed CEOs, first by a former CEO of Keurig, then by the current CEO, Frederic Levy, in 2015.
How are Coravin products tested?
Coravin claims that its systems keep wine fresher for far longer. As you can see, Coravin claims that its systems can allow a bottle of wine to last up to two years or more after it’s been opened.
They also claim that they add extra technology to ensure that wine’s oxidation is not only delayed but that the quality of flavor is also retained.
To ensure their products work, every Coravin model is testing in a number of different ways before being released. Wine is blindly tested, meaning that testers can experience if the preservation system is really making a difference.
Usually, open bottles are tested 3 months, 6 months, one year, and three years against a previously unopened bottle. I love that they’re transparent about their standards of testing, instead of just making claims.
What can I use Coravin with?
Before I tell you the best Coravin products you can buy, it’s important to note that there are some limitations for what wine you can use Coravin Preservation Systems with; the good news is that there aren’t many of those limitations.
Screw Top Bottles and Corks
Coravin works with natural corks; agglomerated corks; twin-top corks; and multi-piece corks. However, it’s not recommended to be used with plastic or synthetic corks. For screw-top bottles, you’ll have to purchase a Coravin Screw Cap accessory.
Preserving Corks, Capsules & Needles
It’s important to also note that how you use Coravin will greatly impact your results. One downside I see to Coravin systems is that technique is important, so they may not be the best option for someone entirely new to drinking wine.
In order to best preserve a cork, the wine still needs to be stored at a tilt. While multiple insertions with a needle won’t necessarily cause damage, more than 25 can.
It’s also important to regularly clean needles and replace both needles and capsules. Needles can be used an impressive 300 times, but capsules should be replaced after 15 glasses of wine.
What products does Coravin sell?
Here’s where buying Coravin gets tricky: they offer several models for different purposes–all with the intent of preserving wine and keeping wine tasting fresh for longer after it’s opened. They offer main system sets, as well as accessories, needles, replenishments, and storage cases.
The main selling point, of course, is the Coravin Preservation Systems. All use the Smart Clamps Preservation System or a Pivot System.
Best For the Beginner, or Occasional Drinker
Pivot Systems work by filling opened bottles with Argon gas to stop oxidation and are supposed to help preserve bottles up to a few to several weeks.
Fuss-free even for someone who’s never used a wine preservation system before, the cork is replaced with a pivot device through the stopper. A simple button releases while you pour.
Pivot There is one main option for the Pivot, priced right at one hundred dollars and available in multiple colors. It comes with a device, stoppers, and a capsule, plus a 30-day warranty. It promises up to 4 weeks of fresh taste after opening a bottle. I recommend this most for individual, smaller capacity use. Buy Here.
Smart Clamps Systems
Smart Clamps Systems offer a few more options and immediately struck me as a bit bulkier and more complicated, but also with an exceptionally professional presentation. Instead of a push-button, you simply insert your bottle under the clamp and let the machine do its work.
But using a Smart Clamp also takes a little more set up. You align the clamp with the bottle’s neck and push down so the needle inserts. The trigger should release quickly and the bottle is placed back upright when you’re finished.
Best For Value: Model Three
Though these systems still use the same general technology, compared with the Pivot, the Clamps are considered premium options, with more powerful designs for preservation and capacity.
The Model Three is your best bet if you want value at a more budget-friendly price. It has more updated features than the Pivot but without the more expensive extras of other Smart models.
The streamlined design is also simple to use and comes with two capsules, a screw clap, and a clearing tool. While it may not be the most visually impressive, it gets the job done. Buy Here.
Best for Durability: Model Five
The Model Five Coravin is an upgrade from the Model Three, with the ability to handle higher capacity use over time, and, because of this, is a good option if you are trying out several wines at once vs one or two.
Suitable for use for small restaurants, extra features include a well designed stainless steel spout and rubber, non-slip grip. You’ll get 3 capsules along with the system, as well as a needle and screw cap. Buy Here.
Best for Impressing: Model Six
I recommend the Model Six mostly for those in the culinary field, who entertain often or are simply passionate about wine.
The Model Six no doubt is an impressive looking machine, with beautifully finished designs, and an elegant design–but in terms of overall features you aren’t really getting much more.
It does come with an extra capsule and a storage case. Buy Here.
Best Overall: Model Eleven
While more expensive doesn’t always mean best (see the difference between Models Five and Six), I do recommend the upgrade to a Model Eleven for very serious wine drinkers.
Not only is it among the most popular and acclaimed, but this latest model offers sophistication and requires less work on your part. Not only stunning in presentation, but it also delivers in function.
The Model Eleven adds custom pour systems, accessories, and even custom speed for the ultimate wine experience. Buy Here.
Coravin also sells accessory sets. You can find everything from needless and spouts, to pedestals. These are all obviously more affordable and smaller options, but I didn’t find much here exceptional.
The accessory set alternative to a full preservation system I’d most recommend is the Elevate Your Wine Set. It comes with a pedestal and needle, but you’ll only be saving $20-$30 from the most basic Coravin preservation system.
However, it may appeal to those who have less counter space or want something more manual.
Coravin Replenishment Sets are exactly as they sound: kits to replenish must-haves for their main preservation systems.
Here, you can buy individual capsules, needles, and support spouts for all of their models. Buy Replenishment Sets Here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Coravin will keep wine up to around 3 months. It does so mainly by preventing oxidation, but it’s also very important that you store wine in a good wine cooler to take full advantage of its preservation systems. Other factors, like the wine type, will also play a role in how long the wine lasts after being opened. Of course, having the best wine accessories can be important, too.
Coravin has a great reputation. Not only is it well tested by its makers, but outside experts have been pleased with Coravin as well. According to a publication by Drinks Business, around 160 wine professionals tested and found these products do a great job of preventing wine oxidation–the main reason that wine goes bad. On Amazon, around 67% of customers gave Coravin a 5-star rating, and the company averages 4.6 out of 5 stars on Best Buy.
Coravin starts at $99 for its Pivot System. Other systems cost a few hundred dollars. You’ll also need to buy replenishments fairly frequently; capsules, which cost $40 to $60 for a set of 6, must be replaced after around 15 standard wine glasses. So while the initial investment is not outrageous, using Coravin can be expensive over time. However, if you’re drinking expensive wine or Champagne, it could be better than half finishing and throwing wine bottles out.
The best Coravin model depends on your budget, needs, and wine-drinking habits. But the most acclaim goes to the Model Eleven. Though expensive, this model features a sleek design; custom controls; and more control in pour style and speed.
Overall, I was impressed with what Coravin offers, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you only drink wine occasionally, tend to finish wine quickly, or are drinking cheap wine, it’s probably not worth buying a wine preservation system.
However, if you do need a wine preservation system, I recommend buying either the Model Eleven or the Model Three.