Coravin Model Eleven: Finally Wine By the Glass

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Coravin Model Eleven
A side view of the Coravin Model Eleven complete with a side-lit LED display. (Image from Coravin.com)

Maybe opening a bottle of wine and feeling like you need to finish the whole bottle isn’t something you consider a problem… but wine can be quite expensive, so why not enjoy it slowly? The Coravin Model Eleven Wine Preservation System allows you to do just that.

What Is the Coravin Model Eleven?

I wrote briefly about Coravin here on GeekDad back in January in my CES 2018 Day 1 Highlights article. Right in the middle of all the noise and chaos of CES I found solitude in the Coravin booth. Coravin had this great booth with a nice quiet room in the center with comfy chairs complete with fireplace.

Coravin Model Eleven
This is about as cozy and quiet as it gets for the show floor of CES! (Image by Skip Owens)

I had a pre-scheduled interview with Greg Lambrecht, the founder of Coravin, and we sat in this amazing isolated island of peace a quiet next to an electric fireplace and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine (poured with the Coravin of course). It turns out Greg is a huge space geek so we had a lot in common. Greg didn’t start out in the wine industry. He got his start by inventing chemotherapy delivery systems for the medical industry and realized one day that the needle technology from his chemotherapy system would also solve a personal problem he had… wanting to be able to enjoy a single glass of wine at a time without worrying about drinking or trying to preserve the rest of the bottle. This is how the idea for the Coravin system began.

Coravin makes a wine pouring system that allows you to pour a single glass of wine from a wine bottle without having to worry about needing to drink the rest of the bottle right away. The Coravin system uses a small needle to penetrate the cork, pump argon gas into the bottle to push the wine out, and then the cork re-seals once the needle is extracted. The argon gas is inert so it won’t permeate the wine and it’s heavier than air so it keeps any air from being able to sneak into the bottle while you pour and then later extract the needle. This all sounds quite complicated, but to the user it is incredibly simple and it allows you to have a single glass of any wine you have and then store the bottle for as long as you like (days, weeks, years) before you have another glass. This is a game changer for people who like wine because it frees you up to be able to have a single glass of any wine at any time.

Our time in blissful isolation in the middle of CES was soon over, but before I left, Greg had me sign the 2 partial bottles of wine we had poured glasses from and promised to send them to me later in the year along with a demo unit of the Model Eleven when it was ready. Fast forward about eight months and I am on an extended work trip in the middle of wine country in California and I get an email from Coravin asking me if I was ready to try out the Model Eleven… perfect timing. A few day later, the Model Eleven along with my perfectly preserved partial bottles of wine I signed at CES showed up at my hotel.

Coravin Model Eleven
My care package from Coravin included the Model Eleven and the two bottles of wine I tried with Greg at CES. (Image by Skip Owens)

Details of the Coravin Model Eleven

The Coravin Model Eleven is the most feature-rich professional system that Coravin sells. Coravin pulled out all the stops with this design:

Coravin Model Eleven
The Coravin Model Eleven comes with everything you need to enjoy many many glasses of wine. (Image from Coravin.com)
  • The first Coravin system that is both automatic and Bluetooth connected.
  • 6 gas capsules: Pours 90 15.5 oz glasses of wine.
  • 1 Coravin Aerator: Attach to the spout of your Coravin Wine Preservation System, for silkier, smoother, and more aromatic results equivalent to decanting wine for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (my demo unit did not come with one so I was not able to try it out).
  • Display Base: The Coravin Display Base is the most elegant way to display your Coravin Wine System while keeping Coravin Capsules and Coravin Needles at your fingertips.
  • Carry Case: This durable carry case, soft-lined and stylish, is perfect to bring your Coravin System with you anywhere you go.
  • 6 Coravin Screw Caps: The Coravin Screw Cap expands the possibilities of the Coravin Wine Preservation Opener by allowing people to pour and protect wines closed under screw cap for up to three months.
  • Color LED Display.
  • Works with the new Coravin Moments app.
  • 8.25” x 2.5” x 4” and weighs about 1 pound.
  • Pours 5 oz of wine in about 25-29 seconds.

How I Have Been Using the Model Eleven

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, I was in California for an extended work trip, so where wine was concerned I was either wine tasting or sharing entire bottles of wine with a group of people. I used the Coravin system on the two bottles of wine I originally tasted at CES about eight months ago and had a glass from each bottle right when they arrived. The wine tasted just as good as I remember it at CES. I then used the Coravin about two weeks later to share the remaining wine from those two bottles with a group a co-workers, and everyone loved the wine (it was like the wine had just been opened). The rest of my use of the Coravin Model Eleven was to pour glasses of wine from brand new bottles only to finish the bottle with the group of people I was with. This didn’t do anything to test out the wine preservation function but it did give me a lot of experience pouring wine with the Coravin.

“Opening” a bottle of wine with the Coravin is dirt simple: you just slide the neck of the bottle into the sheath at the base of the Coravin needle and then continue to push/slide the Coravin unit down which inserts the needle through the cork of the wine bottle. Next you just pour like you would a normal open bottle of wine (ensuring the bottle is tipped at least 45 degrees) and return the bottle to vertical when done. Screw cap wine is a little bit different. You must first remove the original screw cap from the bottle of wine and replace it with one of the Coravin screw caps and then you open and pour just like described above. When done pouring, you remove the needle by flipping up the handle in the top surface of the Coravin and pulling straight up.

Verdict

Since I was in wine country for an extended period of time, I got the chance to talk with a lot of people in the wine industry. Almost every winery or restaurant I went to in the area had either heard of Coravin or actively used one of their systems. Coravin has turned out to be quite the game-changer. Wine can be quite expensive and, before the Coravin, it was nearly impossible for small restaurants to pour a high-quality wine by the glass because they didn’t have enough demand for that particular wine to finish an entire bottle in one day. Now with the Coravin system, small restaurants can offer wine by the glass for even their most expensive wines and the rest of the wine in the bottle stays preserved for the next customer. The only negative feedback I received from the wine community in California is that they wished the slide rail on the Model Eleven was made out of metal rather than plastic. I used the Coravin quite a bit and didn’t notice anything negative about the choice of plastic for the slide rail, but then again I don’t pour as much wine as the folks I talked with (there is an upgrade recommendation, Coravin, for your next model).

So what about the rest of us? The Coravin performed flawlessly for me and I used it on both screw cap bottles of wine and on cork. Operation was easy and straightforward and the result was an amazing glass of wine, even with the two bottles I had enjoyed a glass from eight months ago… impressive! The Model Eleven also boasts a new feature that allows you to adjust the gas injection setting for just a taste of wine (less than a full pour). This results in a slower pour for when you just want a taste of wine and it saves on gas usage.

After spending a lot of time in wine country, I have joined several wine clubs from the area and shipped back quite a bit of wine to enjoy back home. Sadly I had to return my Coravin Model Eleven, but I am considering purchasing one (but most likely not this particular model). The Coravin Model Eleven retails for about $1200 so it is really geared for high-end wine connoisseurs, wineries, or restaurants. If you don’t drink enough wine to justify this top-of-the-line Coravin system, there are four other systems that range in price from $199 all the way up to the retail price of the Model Eleven at $1200. If you really enjoy good wine like my wife and do, then a Coravin system may be something you want to consider. The Coravin website has a chart that compares all of the various models (just scroll down to the middle of the page on any of the Coravin system product pages and select the tab labeled “Comparison Chart”).

The Coravin Model Eleven is available directly from the Coravin website and on Amazon.com for between $199 and $1200.

Disclaimer: Coravin sent me a Model Eleven evaluation unit to use for about two weeks for the purpose of this review.

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