What happens when the romantic trappings of the culture of wine combine with technological innovation? A fascinating profile of the Coravin, a high-tech device that extracts wine through the cork without opening the bottle, and its creator by Rachel Sanders on BuzzFeed, explores this issue.
The Coravin is a technological marvel designed by Greg Lambrecht, who holds not one but two engineering degrees from MIT. (Suddenly, my MA in History is making me feel like an underachiever.) How does it work? Taking a cue from the surgical world, a needle is inserted through the cork, wine is extracted, then the empty space is filled with argon gas. (Note: surgeons do not fill empty spaces in our bodies with argon gas. I was referring to the needle portion only.) It's a great boon to wine bars and restaurants who are concerned about bottles going bad from oxidation. And it allows you to offer a lot more ambitious, expensive wines by the glass because you know even if the wine is esoteric and/or pricey, you won't be pouring it down the drain.
So what's not to love? Well, there's the $300 price tag. But, as Sanders illustrates, some wineries are already using a Coravin for marketing purposes. Beyond the novelty ("Check out our Coravin!"), it's also a chance to promote a unique by-the-glass wine program. For the daily wine drinker of $10 bottles? Not so much. But I'd certainly check out a wine bar using a Coravin, especially if it meant I could try a host of bottles unfamiliar to me.
But where the cooling of enthusiasm beyond price takes place is when it comes to the sentimental side of wine culture. Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief of Punch, while giving the Coravin its due as "kind of revolutionary", points out a loss of romance that comes along with using it.
What is the relationship between innovation and tradition when it comes to wine? Is it any different than, say, the world of food or art? And where does technology fit in? Kudos to Sanders for turning a profile of a wine gadget into something thought-provoking.
Here's a short video showing how the Coravin works:
A duo of Coravin-worthy wines below.
Jameson Fink has a decade of wine industry and blogging experience. Saveur Magazine nominated his site, jamesonfink.com, for a 2013 Best Food Blog Award in the Wine/Beer Category. He is a tireless advocate for year-round rosé consumption and enjoys a glass of Champagne alongside a bowl of popcorn.