Many readers will be familiar with Coravin and the resulting uplift to the “wines by the glass” offering in wine bars and restaurants alike. We regularly refer to Coravin in our reviews and articles within Palate. For those who are intrigued, what follows is a brief guide to the science of cork-proof wine extraction.
A fully-patented Coravin system came along in 2011 and sparked interest from wine enthusiasts, commentators and commercial operators within gastronomy. Invented by Greg Lambrecht, an MIT graduate, the Coravin system is a technology that allows fine wines to be enjoyed in small measures – something that was never possible before. The device works by inserting a thin needle into the cork to draw wine (as a mosquito would draw blood) and replacing the liquid with argon gas as it is poured. The automatic release of argon gives a satisfying “puff” sound, indicating that the job is done. Removing the needle then sees the cork reseal itself, thus preserving the wine. Since the process does not uncork the bottle, the wine is prevented from oxidising – meaning that bottles subjected to the Coravin device can be revisited at a later date. Support from Robert Parker and other notable critics has removed virtually all doubt that might have existed over the efficacy of Coravin.
In the present day, the UK (notably London) is witnessing a rise in the number of restaurants with rare wines by the glass at the centre of the dining experience. Coravin is undoubtedly enabling this movement.
There is still divided opinion in wine circles about Coravin. Much like the screwcap debate, there are traditionalists and there are progressives. Palate’s founders have met sommeliers who are staunchly against gaining entry to a vintage claret without uncorking it. However: the Palate stance is that Coravin not only confers access to wines which might be unaffordable by the bottle (versus a moderate flutter of cash on a glass’ worth), it revolutionises the solo eating experience for lone diners. Indeed, lone diners have often been seen by restaurateurs as a burden and, consequently, have been treated to only a poor selection of wines by the glass. Now, Coravin offers real value and opportunity for the oenophile whether tout seul or ensemble.
Palate’s top 5 places in London for wines by the glass:
- Noble Rot, 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB
- Les 110 de Taillevent, 16 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 9DD
- Goodman Mayfair, 24-26 Maddox Street, London, W1S 1QH
- Blandford Comptoir, 1 Blandford Street, London, W1U 3DA
- Hawksmoor Knightsbridge, 3 Yeoman’s Row, London, SW3 2AL
by C Ley