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Tag Archives: Coravin

Winebits 337: Coravin woes and crappy wine

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wine news coravinCoravin says whoops: Far be it for the Wine Curmudgeon to say “I told you so,” but the $300 Coravin wine opener has hit a snag. As in exploding bottles. The system exerts so much pressure that some bottles, likely with minute defects, burst when the Coravin is used. The company has halted sales until it fixes the problem, and has sent those who purchased the opener a patch. Who knew wine openers would be subject to recalls?

No more reviews: Lew Perdue, who runs the Wine Industry Insight news service, used to throw the occasional wine review in the mix. But no more: “…I’ve grown weary of panning bad wine. You probably don’t enjoy reading about it. Worse than that are all of the bad wines I’ve had the misfortune of buying. And tasting.” I’m sorry to see Lew go, but completely understand. Those of us who buy wine to review and take our chances with what we buy have had the same thing happen to us. Over and over. And over. Or, as I like to joke, I taste more bad wine than anyone in the world. Which actually isn’t very funny, is it?

Legitimate wine education: Or so promises a British supermarket chain, which is adding a taste test to its on-line store. Consumers will answer questions about their wine preferences, and the results will guide them to wines labeled sweet, fresh, smooth, or intense (as well as a numbered scale) that match their answers. Says the chain’s wine buyer: “Customers really love wines but they find buying it scary because they are really worried that they are going to buy the wrong products.” Wow. Who knew retailers knew that?

The $300 Coravin question

wine news coravin
The $300 Coravin question

Even after the Coravin, sealed like new.

Coravin is the new, hip, and incredibly well-reviewed corkscrew that lets you open a bottle of wine without taking out the cork. As such, it is as revolutionary as the company says. But it’s the $300 Coravin question that remains unanswered: Is it necessary to spend that much money on a wine gadget?

Make no mistake: the Coravin does what it says it does. Shasha Dotras (that’s her in the photo) impressed almost everyone who saw her demonstrate the opener recently at Pogo’s in Dallas. The hollow needle, which has a hole in the sharp end, pushes through the cork, argon gas is fed into the wine, the wine flows through the needle, and the opener’s handle works like a spigot. Pull the needle out, the argon gas fills the empty space, and the cork expands to fill the hole left by the needle. The wine remains mostly as fresh as before the Coravin.

But is that it works enough? If it costs $300, then it had better be worth $300 worth of wine, be they 30 bottles of $10 wine or three bottles of $100 wine (and that doesn’t include $11 each for the argon capsules). And that’s a difficult standard for any gadget to meet.

Further complicating the price/value discussion is that most of us don’t need the Coravin. There are four glasses in a bottle of wine. I open a bottle at dinner, and I have two glasses and the person with me has two glasses. When are we going to use the Coravin? And most people who don’t finish a bottle are more than happy to replace the cork or screwcap, put the bottle in the fridge, and drink the rest later. The idea that oxidation exists and could spoil their wine is something only wine snobs worry about.

So who would benefit from the Coravin? Professionals who taste a lot of pricey wine one glass at a time, but that can hardly be a market big enough to make a difference. Maybe there’s demand for a restaurant version, though given the level of training at most restaurants, breakage would probably make the Coravin prohibitively expensive.

This leaves everyone who has a cellar stuffed full of expensive wine, has lots of money to spend on gadgets, and sees wine as something to collect and not necessarily drink — probably less than five percent of the U.S. wine drinking population. In other words, the Winestream Media’s typical wine drinker. Which no doubt explains this. And this.

In this, the Coravin may well be to wine what the granite counter top is to home renovation — it sells well and is really nice to have, but isn’t going to make dinner any easier cook or taste any better. Which answers the $300 Coravin question for me.

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