Greg Lambrecht, inventor of the Coravin, has got sommeliers and wine writers buzzing with his revolutionary creation that allows you to sample a bottle of wine without removing the cork. Reflecting the commentary regarding the Coravin, I sent a few questions Lambrecht's way. He responded to my queries regarding the intersection of wine, technology, and romance, whether the Coravin is too expensive, and, finally, shared the story of a memorable bottle of wine that he recently enjoyed with the help of his invention.
When considering the ceremony of pouring and serving wine, romance is a big part of the ritual. Where does the Coravin fit in, and are we technophobic when it comes to enjoying wine?
"Wine technology is constantly improving. New corkscrews, aerators, wine glasses, and wine refrigerators have improved the experience and storage of wine for modern consumers. I just returned from the vineyards of Bordeaux and was stunned by the mix of extremely new technology and old traditions used in modern wine making. This mix has been present over the 8,000 year history of wine. It's the responsibility of a company like ours to integrate our new technology into the wonderful traditions and romance that surround wine. To our customers, how Coravin works is less important than that it works - enabling them to serve as much of the wine they wish from as many bottles as they like, without compromise or fear of loss. We have worked hard to involve vineyards, top restaurants, collectors and wine stores that are the forefront of wine tradition from prior to launch to make sure that we integrate into tradition while empowering the consumer with this new freedom."
Will we see the price [Editor's Note: currently $300] of the Coravin drop? How do you counter those who think it’s too expensive? And how do you relate its usefulness to an enthusiastic, regular wine consumer who drinks wine daily but does not cellar it.
"I am sure that over time we will develop a range of products at different price points. However, most of those who challenge that Coravin is too expensive are thinking of it as a wine preservation system - something that extends the drinkability of a bottle over a few days. Coravin isn't this. With Coravin, you can serve or taste from as many bottles as you like, without removing the cork - the best tested wine preservation system in history. I think of Coravin as a wine bar in your house, where your freedom to experience and learn about this wonderful beverage is limited only by the number of bottles you own. This freedom is distinctly different from a preservation system that is used once the cork is pulled, starting a fast clock on that bottle's deterioration, essentially forcing you to finish that bottle before you would open another. For an enthusiastic, regular wine drinker, tasting wines from three or four different bottles in an evening is such a better experience than buying one and drinking it. Your knowledge and enjoyment of wine is heightened by comparing different wine styles, different vintages, and different grapes from across the world. Coravin is a very convenient, and I propose reasonably priced way of achieving this."
What's a wine you recently sampled using the Coravin that really surprised you?
"A friend recently poured me a glass of an Hermitage from 1985, a French red wine from the Rhone made primarily from the Syrah grape. It smelled and tasted absolutely nothing like it had been made from grapes, so full of raw meat it could have been freshly ground beef. I had had this exact wine ten years before when it had tasted completely different, like pepper and flowers. I was fascinated by its metamorphosis. The grape and the wine maker have clearly had a very long relationship, marked by variable weather and tireless effort, one that can produce a nose and palate that evolves in the bottle over time, sometimes quite dramatically, and when done well completely commands your attention and will never be forgotten."