Apparently, a foreign concept according to some. But for those of us who can’t (or won’t) drink an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, “Leftover Wine” is a way of life. I can’t drink an entire bottle of wine. Well, technically I could, but the next morning’s headache would be one for the ages as well as eliciting an unending stream of apologies to my liver.
After MONTHS of “hinting” to The Wineaux Guy™ that I wanted a Coravin for **all of these reasons**, nothing happened. And then the sale appeared. One weekend about six or so weeks ago, almost everybody was having a serious, two-day sale on Coravin. I finally said “f*#k it” and bought a Coravin II from the Wine Enthusiast site which was cheaper than Amazon. Who did not have a sale, by the way.
One of the items I added to the kit I purchased was the Coravin screwcap set.
The science of the Coravin is pretty well known by most wine aficionados. The innate healing qualities of natural cork is what makes Coravin such a valuable asset to collectors, wine students, and enthusiasts alike. These qualities allow Coravin-accessed wines to last much longer than the few days (if you’re lucky) than they would if simply recorked or even Vacu-vin sealed. As I tell everyone who wants to know that wine is like milk. It goes bad within days if not properly cared for when opened. Simple science, and ask me how I know.
Coravin has recently created an ersatz screwcap cork for screwcap-topped wines. The center circle is made of a heavy silicone membrane which seems to naturally seal on its own. And, believe it or not, it actually works.
The Screwcap Wine Experiment
While many cheaper wines can lose their flavor after just hours, quality wines are a different story. Cheaper wines are rarely a loss if they go off after a day or two. Yeah. I know. “Leftover Wine.”
For those of us who can’t (or won’t) drink an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, “Leftover Wine” is a way of life.
So I decided to use one of my favorite screwcaps wines as a sacrificial lamb. My choice was one of my favorites, 2014 Vines on the Marycrest My Generation. It is 52% Zinfandel, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 8% Petite Sirah. Rich, luscious, and oh so Paso (can I trademark that?)
When I opened it, I immediately screwed on the Coravin top. That is a requirement according to the instructions and the video. Yes, I actually read instructions. Because screwups.
After immediately placing the Coravin screwcap on the bottle, I inserted the Coravin needle and poured my first glass of wine. Which was perfect, of course.
That was expected. But how about the other weeks? After a total of five weeks (count ’em), I discovered very little degradation of quality. I had one glass a week; talk about self-discipline! The only issue was between the fourth and fifth week when there was apparently a lot of air in the bottle, and I wasn’t too sure about the amount of Argon and the healing quality of the silicone since the holes were still very apparent.
Naturally, I have several wines with natural cork that have been “Coravin’d.” One of my first was a 2014 Palmina Lagrein (the name of the grape) which is stunningly good. Other than in the tasting room, it’s the first time I’ve ever sampled the grape, and it’s delicious. I’d love to taste it directly from “the old country,” which apparently is in the Trentino region of Italy. Review to follow.
- Follow the directions. Period.
- Understand the overpriced, tiny Argon capsules. There have been many negative reviews on the lifespan of the capsules. I took that into consideration as I tried to figure out how to lengthen the usage time, and for me, it was surprisingly easy. In the Coravin directions, it states that when the wine bottle gets very low, just open it and enjoy the wine because you’ll drain the (expensive) capsule trying to preserve that last glass or so of wine. In addition, it’s easy to use the little flappy thing to drain it unnecessarily.
- Try to pierce the screwcaps in a different spot each time. As you can see from the image, I did it five times before I opened the bottle and drank the last of the wine, which had oxidized **just** a little.
- Remove the top of the capsule on a bottle of wine with cork, especially if it’s low-to-mid priced. Some of the bottles in that price range may not have true cork, and the Coravin may not work. Natural cork with its self-healing properties (which would have been nice to have for my skinned knees when I was a kid) is unbeatable.
- Use a label or tag to indicate that the wine has been accessed by the Coravin system. I use shipping tags where I write the word Coravin and the month and year that it was first accessed. So far, so good.
And there you have it. Although The Budget™ was less than pleased with my purchase, I don’t regret it at all. It has proven to be extremely valuable, especially since I’m currently studying the WSET3 Advanced. Brutal.
You may also notice that Coravin is making an appearance in many fine restaurants. It allows them to be able to pour pricier wines by the glass rather than hoping someone will pay $$$ for a full bottle. It also allows a couple, for instance, to order a glass of nicer wine for their individual dinners. Although Pinot Noir would cover all of that.
Whether there’s a sale or not, think about getting a Coravin yourself. Your expensive bottles will thank you.
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