In step with the times, Coravin’s Model Eleven ventures into the world of Bluetooth and applications.
I don’t know if a Coravin Model Eleven is worth $1,000, but it’s useful, more so than its cheaper predecessors.
I’ve had mixed experiences trying to use a Coravin in the past, so I was surprised when the company contacted me to review the new model. It must be easier to find a wine journalist to tout a device that allows you to enjoy the same bottle of wine, one glass at a time, for at least a few weeks.
But maybe that’s the point: if I like it, you will like it too. And I liked it. My only reservation is the cost. If you don’t mind $1,000, buy one.
The Coravin works by inserting a small needle into a cork (it must be a natural cork, not synthetic) to remove wine, replacing it with an inert gas to prevent the remaining wine from oxidizing. This way you won’t have to pull the cork. This is a godsend for those who want to extend their enjoyment of a special bottle of wine.
Coravin claims the wines will last for weeks without being affected. I haven’t found this to always be true. Some wines changed unpredictably after being “consulted” with a Coravin.
Some improved at the beginning: one Cabernet Franc Ashes & Diamonds Napa Valley The 2014 I tasted a little of was significantly more delicious a week later, with softer tannins and greater complexity. I think this is the result of a small amount of oxygen entering the bottle, and it could be user error, as I don’t claim to be an expert in its use. (Note to readers: This is a good reason to decant wines when opening them by pulling the cork.) Two weeks later, it was still pretty good, but not as good as a week earlier.
I accessed two special Pinot Noirs that I wanted to taste on occasion: Cobb Coastlands Vineyard 1906 Block Pommard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2014 and Kutch Bohan Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016. Both were so delicious that I had two full glasses with the Coravin. The Cobb had a visible wine stain on the cork – a cut where I had inserted the needle. But it was still delicious two weeks later. Kutch, although drinkable, had become ordinary.
Just to run the gamut, the only bottle of white wine I tested, Tenuta Regaleali Tasca Sicilia Cataratto 2017, tasted exactly the same (mineral and refreshing) after almost three weeks and multiple accesses to the bottle. This was the first bottle for me where the Coravin worked exactly as expected, and that is a wonderful thing.
I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I stored the Sicilian white upright in my food refrigerator at food temperature, while I stored all reds on their sides in my wine refrigerator at 60 Farenheit. I was worried about wine leaking from the reds, but despite the red stain on the Cobb cork, none of the bottles leaked.
For ease of use, I like this model much better than the previous one I tried, which I inadvertently used to paint my kitchen with wine. Most Model Elevens seem sturdy and the instructions are pretty easy to follow. I had no incidents, except for one which I had on several occasions: almost immediately, I bent the needle – a key piece of equipment. I had to bend the needle more than once to get it into the cork. I don’t know how long the needle will last, but you can buy replacement parts.
Coravin Model Eleven is Bluetooth compatible and has an app, although it’s not really necessary other than telling you how much neutral gas is left in the replaceable bottle. You can use the app to switch between a glass and a sip of wine, but you can also just press the button on the device. Coravin is trying to build a social community with “Coravin Moments,” associating wines with Christmas movies or Jason Isbell, but as far as I can tell, the only people participating work for Coravin. As soon as this review is published, I will delete the app. But I would keep the Coravin if they let me.
Restaurants could be the Coravin Model Eleven’s main customers: it’s ideal for by-the-glass lists. I knew some of the wines changed because I took lots of tasting notes. But none of the wines I had access to, even weeks later, would have been returned to me if I had ordered them by the glass. It requires a little concentration to avoid or minimize needle bending, but it is much easier to use than previous models. However, the wine flows quite slowly, so restaurant employees will need to be patient.
Here’s what I love most: It gave me the freedom to drink from wine bottles I’d been hesitant to open. Jamie Kutch met me for dim sum a while ago and handed me a bottle of his Pinot Noir. I wanted to drink it; obviously he wanted me to taste it right away. But I kept passing on it because I wanted the food pairing to be perfect, and I had nagging doubts about robbing the cradle. Once I was able to use the Coravin, I opened the Kutch wine, Ross Cobb pinot, and a few others. I drank better because the Coravin cleared my mind, and that has value.
To join the conversation, comment on our social media.