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Review of the Coravin: Wine Preservation System

coravin2The Coravin wine preservation system will allow oenophiles a new way to save and preserve their fine wines that use natural cork, so they won’t have to drink the entire bottle or let their choice wines go to waste.  Being a techie-gadget kind of man, the Coravin WPS really appealed to my sensibilities.coravin4

To my mind, and most likely yours, the appearance and packaging of the Corovin WPS certainly speaks of luxury. The product’s design has the appearance of something conjured up by an inventive prop designer for the futuristic movie franchise “Blade” because it successfully merges an old world product (wine opener) with leading-edge technology. It’s a combo that offers advantages to both experienced and new oenophiles alike.

The Coravin, initially called the “Wine mosquito” was the vision of Greg Lambrecht. Mr. Lambrecht designs and develops a wide variety of medical devices and it was his application of his considerable mechanical engineering skills that resulted in the Coravin Wine Preservation System. His invention was literally born out of necessity when his wife became pregnant and abstained from alcoholic beverages. But Mr. Lambrecht still wanted to enjoy sipping some of his fine wines throughout her pregnancy without having to waste them, and so the Coravin was created.The Complete Coravin system comes with three different gauges ranging from 16-18. These needles are intended to offer a variety of capabilities. Generally speaking, using the Coravin to dispense wine ranges from 20 to 35 seconds per glass. The higher the gauge the slower the pour.

The Coravin is designed to work with wine bottles that use natural cork. Wines sealed with synthetic corks can be re-used, but these synthetic corks usually will not always reseal properly. Screw tops cannot be used with the Coravin product. It is also important to ensure that before using the Coravin that the top of the foil cap is completely removed to ensure that no metal discs or glass closures are below the foil top as they will damage the Coravin needle. coravin5

Although this is a rarity, some wine bottles may have slight inclusions or hairline fractures and should these defects be present the use of the Coravin may compromise the glass bottle’s integrity and it might break. This occurred a few times last year so Coravin now offers and recommends using a bottle sleeve to prevent potential injury, albeit these occurrences are rare. These events did not go unnoticed by the legal community; refer to http://www.laszlolaw.com/whos-blame-wine-bottle-explodes-using-coravin/ 

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Wine Openers: What is *really* useful?

Wine Openers: What is *really* useful?

It's not something into which most people put a lot of thought, but if you open bottles of wine regularly, the proper opener is absolutely something to look into. Everyone has their favorites, and I've used about a billion different styles of opener over the last couple of years.

Honestly? Most of them are absolutely terrible.

There are wine openers that are necessary for certain tasks (a two-prong Ah-So is perfect for opening a really old bottle without the cork crumbling) or help with arthritic hands (the automatic Rabbit corkscrew is great for people with limited dexterity of the wrist or fingers), but the majority of wine openers are too overwrought and ineffective to be useful.

If you've ever purchased or been given a "full bar kit," I can almost guarantee that the cheap "waiter's helper" corkscrew will have a dull knife, a hooked lever arm, or a shiny chrome corkscrew--or worse, all three! The knife or rotating foil-cutting blade will not effectively cut through the foil on a wine bottle neck. The hinge is hard to maneuver once you get the corkscrew into the cork, making it likely to chip the glass or break the cork. And the screw will rust and break the cork into small chunks that end up in your glass. Why do these cheap versions even get made?

Dealing with the awful versions of a waiter's friend opener is enough to go buy the lever-press corkscrews. I have one of these, and it works just fine. But it's bulky, and the foil-cutter has the stupid rotating little metal blades that don't cut through foil, and corks have a tendency to get stuck on the screw. Plus, if you ever want to get a full pat-down by a TSA agent, try sticking one of these in your carry-on luggage! Mine mostly stays in a drawer.

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The Wine Doctor

The Wine Doctor

It's rare that I'll open a bottle of wine without the intent of finishing it. I don't drink alone, but I like to make sure that if I'm going to open a bottle, the friends who are with me are ready to empty the bottle over the course of our evening together. However, when we get distracted from finishing the bottle, I end up using the leftover wine to cook, or dumping the dregs. I'm not often in the mood to drink the same wine two nights in a row--I like to mix it up!

I was asked, however, to fight my natural instinct in order to review this wine accessory, The Wine Doctor. It's a sleek pump that comes with stoppers that indicate when the air has been removed from your unfinished bottle of wine, with the aim of preventing wine-ruining oxidation before you can finish the bottle at a later date. It's easy to use (insert stopper, place cylinder on top, and pump until the red bar disappears), pretty enough to leave on the counter, and at $25 a pop, it's not too pricey for an everyday wine drinker.

So does it work?

I tasted a pinot noir one night, along with my boyfriend and a friend he had visiting. We talked about the wine and what we tasted when it was freshly-opened. I was familiar with the wine's profile already, and it delivered on my expectations: full of acidity but medium-bodied, good fruitiness and mild tannin. We fought the urge to pour ourselves a second glass, and I sealed the top of the now-half-full bottle using the Wine Doctor stopper. It was slightly awkward, both because the up-and-down pumping motion with a silver cylinder skews a bit pornographic, and because I kept pinching my fingers in the groove where the two cylinder portions meet. But I'm not the most graceful person, and once I figured out that I should probably move my hands away from the seam, it was much less painful!

The red disk in the stopper seemed to disappear much too quickly for the oxygen to have been completely removed from the bottle. It turns out the red disappears only when there's a seal between the stopper and the bottle, which happens on the first or second pump. At that point, the bottle can be lifted off the table by the stopper, but there's still air in the bottle that will continue to oxidize the wine. You need to keep pumping until it gets reeeeeeealllly difficult to pull up on the pump--there will still be oxygen in the bottle, but it's going to be a lower level than before.

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