Coravin pours wine without removing the cork

Coravin units

Have you ever been able to open a bottle of wine and pour a glass without removing the cork? Coravin has managed to pull it off with style, and help pair any vino for any situation.

CES is always a potpourri of compelling technology and wacky gadgets, but Coravin’s unit is less a bottle opener, and more a bottle sealer. Wine connoisseurs are known for being picky about aeration. Not finishing a bottle relatively quickly all but spells doom for the stuff inside.

What Coravin has managed to do is penetrate the cork straight through, and pour out the wine into a glass. The cork stays put the entire time, and when finished, it maintains its seal. Remove the Coravin unit, flip the bottle over, and nothing comes out.

Now, the company is launching the Model Eleven, “the world’s first connected and fully automatic wine preservation opener.” Using Bluetooth and a smartphone app, users can preserve their wine and figure out what to pair with almost any scenario.

Poking around

The sight of half-empty wine bottles with corks intact inside at Coravin’s booth was almost surreal. It was like someone had pulled a magic trick, or a prank by squeezing the cork back inside. Except there was no obvious hole that a typical wine opener would make. In fact, a hole of any kind was barely visible.

Coravin founder Greg Lambrecht’s background in medical devices and nuclear physics helped make this possible. Essentially, the device uses a needle to poke a hole through the cork, injecting pressurized argon gas inside to siphon the wine out through the needle. The gas is totally non-toxic and has no effect on the taste of the wine. I never noticed anything unusual when tasting different wines poured for me at the booth.

Since the wine inside the bottle is never really oxidized, and the cork seals itself afterward, nothing spoils. That means you can enjoy a glass of something without committing to the whole bottle. Coravin says a bottle could last weeks, months or years using its preservers.

The contraption does necessitate stocking parts though. You would need to replace the needle after a while, and the argon canisters are a must for using any of Coravin’s devices.

Pairing wine with…

Coravin Moments app

The Model Eleven adds Bluetooth to sync with Coravin’s Moments app to keep tabs on how much gas each canister has left, and when the needle might need a replacement.

It also suggests wines that might fit a certain meal, or vice versa. Input a wine you already own and it can tell you what food to pair it with.

It can go even more eclectic than that. In the demo I saw, it suggested a wine based on Mexican food and watching Stranger Things on Netflix. Another example had The Godfather and tater tots, with yet another being Happy Gilmore and tacos.

Anything it pulls up comes from the Delectable app, so the sourcing is certainly varied and detailed. Social media integration with Twitter and Instagram allows users to share the combinations they’ve come up with.

Paying up

Coravin pouring wine

As nifty as the Model Eleven was, its $999 USD (about $1248 CAD) price point is prohibitive for the average wine drinker. Connoisseurs who spare no expense for every sip they take may take the plunge.

That’s especially true when Coravin already has the Model Two available in Canada. It’s considerably cheaper than the Eleven, but still pricey at over $300 (approximately $375 CAD). Replacement 2-pack argon gas canisters are $29.99 (about $36 CAD), with three needles running at $129.99 ($161 CAD).

And what about screw-cap wine bottles? There is a version made for those too, which was demoed at the booth. There’s even a vintage needle for old corks going back to bottles before the 1970s and 80s.

Despite the expensive cost of entry, Coravin’s units were among the most intriguing at CES this year. Preserving wine isn’t easy to do. Anyone going back to a bottle after a day or two can attest to that.

Coravin says the Model Eleven will be available in September, with the app possibly coming before that. You can find the Model Two at Amazon.ca, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Williams-Sonoma.

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