Coravin Model Three: Comprehensive Owner’s Review
If you’re a wine lover, you’ve probably heard about Coravin.
They claim to have revolutionized the wine industry – from restaurants to home wine enthusiasts, their system allows us to “access” bottled wine without opening the bottle.
However, at hundreds of dollars for a Coravin system, nevermind the cost of the argon capsules, it’s quite an investment.
So is Coravin worth buying, or giving as a gift? It’s the question everyone who’s looked into this product is asking.
The short answer is that it depends on who you are. In my opinion, Coravin serves a great purpose for luxury wine collectors, small restaurant owners, couples with only one wine lover, and single wine lovers.
In my eyes, these are pretty much the only types of wine drinkers who’ll get the value they paid for from a Coravin system. I’ll explain why in the full review below.
If you’re interested in all the details – let’s dive in.
Disclaimer: As a long time fan of Coravin and having written about them previously, I was gifted the below Model Three system from Coravin. That said, I’ve made sure to remain unbiased – this review contains all the bad, as well as the good.
Coravin – The Pros
I’ve been fascinated by Coravin for a long time. Their promise to allow access to any bottle without ruining the wine is truly a revelation. Life is meant to be lived, and wine is meant to be enjoyed. How many bottles have sat in cellars for years because their owner couldn’t commit to drinking the whole thing? Coravin does change that.
The public opinion is that Coravin systems do live up to their claims. I’ve currently got my own test ongoing to prove that – three wine bottles are in my cellar as a taste test I’ll cover in the future.
However, I’m actually getting off-topic from the real advantages of owning a Coravin system. I’ll talk about the ones that I enjoy the most first
(Note: I own a Coravin Model Three System – however, the basic methodology is the same. While there are differences, the advantages below are for Coravin systems in general, not just the Model Three).
Advantage 1: It’s Perfect For Solo Wine Drinkers
Whether you’re single or with a partner who doesn’t wine (I’m with you if so), life can be hard for a wine lover. You can cook the most amazing dinner, but it doesn’t make sense to open a good bottle of wine to have with it.
Opening a bottle of wine means you’re either committing to drinking the whole bottle alone within a few nights, or risking throwing it out.
For me, the greatest advantage of Coravin is that I can have a glass of wine without feeling guilty about it.
I don’t need to ‘settle’ for a cheap bottle and risk throwing half of it out, or ruining my diet by drinking too much of it. I can simply pick out a bottle, pour a glass, and savour it with my meal. This is an honest gamechanger for me, and something that gives me so much joy every time. It feels like it shouldn’t be possible, but it is.
Advantage 2: You Can Always Have The Perfect Pairing
This advantage potentially applies to couples, but especially for solo drinkers.
If you simply want a glass of wine with dinner, pre-Coravin you’d need to buy a bottle and drink it over a few nights. That means you’ll either need to base your meals around that one wine (having similar tasting meals in a row), or share half a bottle with your partner each night to use a different wine the next night.
Coravin does allow you complete pairing freedom with your meals.
What I mean is that if you’re having steak one night – no problem. Pour out a glass of Malbec, and you’re good to go. The next night is a lighter Risotto? Well then take out a favorite lighter wine.
Coravin allows you to pick and choose the perfect wine for your meal, without having to commit to the full bottle. That means you don’t need to worry or forward plan your wines and your meals. As long as you have a good variety of wines to hand, you’ll be pairing wines like a sommelier on a tasting menu.
Advantage 3: Pair Per Person
Let’s say you are in a wine-enjoying couple, but you often disagree which wines you like. Perhaps you love a deeper, richer wine while your partner prefers something light and fruity. Well, Coravin allows you to pour each other the glass you both want, without committing to sharing a whole bottle.
It simplifies what can otherwise be a weekly debate and compromise. A small luxury, but a meaningful one.
Now – there are plenty of other advantages I’m not mentioning. Particularly for small restaurants (being able to offer a wider wine selection), or for luxury wine owners (finally sampling that bottle you’ve had for 20 years).
However, since I’m in neither category, I won’t expand on them. I’m only covering my experience as an owner.
Coravin – The Cons
Okay, so we have this magical system which lets us access any wine, any time, without committing to the whole bottle. It’s a must-buy, right? Not at all.
I have found there to be several issues with Coravin in my home use, which I’ll share below. These aren’t deal breakers, but they can be game changers.
Issue 1 – No Screw Tops
Coravin doesn’t work with screw tops. That’s it – that’s the disadvantages.
I totally shrugged this off when I first read it. “Okay, so what?! I’ll just not by screw tops. Problem solved”.
That’s well and good. Until you remember that you like to order wine from delivery services.
If, like me, you enjoy the variety from a wine delivery service like Naked Wines – your smile will quickly disappear when you open the box and find that half of the bottles are screw tops.
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find an option to exclude screw-tops from delivery services. What this means is that I’m slowly amassing a small army of screw top bottles, because I’ll always choose to Coravin the corked bottles, then open them once they’re low enough to finish.
This can be quite a niche issue – and certainly isn’t an issue at all if you buy all your wine yourself – but it’s been noticeable for me.
Issue 2 – A Splash of Cork, Sir?
Coravin works by stabbing a thin needle through the cork and into the wine.
Unfortunately, this often means that the first spurt of wine can include a bit of said cork. The first few extractions can also come out with a bit of force – I believe it’s because the full wine bottle is harder to push gas into than one that’s partially emptied.
What I’ve found is that the first glass is often not the prettiest one. You might get a few tiny bits of cork, and wine splashed around the upper part of the glass.
As someone who loves the look of a well-poured wine in a clean and clear glass, this does rub me the wrong way a little. That being said, wine is still wine and the cork pieces are more like particles – they’re super small. Personally, I just enjoy the glass and accept it.
That being said, this could easily be solved by ‘sacrificing’ the first 50ml’s or so into the sink. Then pouring a glass as normal.
Issue 3 – Goldilocks Hates Coravin
Sometimes in life you can get too little or too much of something, but it’s hard to get things juuust right.
This, too, is an issue with Coravin systems. Here’s the basic steps at play here:
- With your Coravin system injected, you hold the bottle over the glass
- You push a lever to inject argon gas into the bottle
- You let go of the lever
- The equivalent volume of wine pours into your glass
The issue is that depending on the amount of gas you’ve injected, you’ll get a corresponding amount of wine. This can be very hard to judge.
I’ve had nights where I’ve poured myself a small glass of wine, and thought “hm, just a little bit more would be perfect”. I give a quick squeeze on the lever, and suddenly the glass is getting way too full and the wine’s not stopping!
Now, I’ve only had the system for a few months – there’s definitely an art to this. Though I do feel the gas comes out quicker and easier the emptier the bottle is, so you need to account for this too.
I’m also not sure if you can simply tilt the bottle back up to stop the pour yourself. I should try this – I’ve always just been worried that the wine will get stuck in the system, and/or spill when I remove it.
I’ve also had a similar issue when using wine while cooking. I was cooking a delicious chilli, and wanted to add just a small spurt of wine to finish it off. While the previous pours into my glass had been small, suddenly I was pouring half a glass of wine into the pot! Thankfully I had the glass nearby to save the day.
This is something that could probably be managed with experience, but as a new user I have found it tricky to pour the right amount that I need. It’s often a bit of a gamble, and could be tricky if you’re trying to pour two equal glasses of wine.
Is Coravin A Good Gift?
When I first received my Coravin system, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. This was a ‘toy’ I’d read a lot about, and understood almost everything about it before I even opened the box.
However, I know that many people are interested in giving a Coravin system as a gift. To test this out, I made sure I wasn’t the first person to open and test my Coravin. My parents were.
To test if Coravin would make a good gift, my system was first used by my parents. They’re a lovely wine-loving couple in their 60’s, who are fairly technology savvy. However, they’d never seen Coravin before – so I figured this would be a good representation of giving it to someone as a gift.
There was a fair amount of ‘figuring things out’ to do as they read through the instructions. I did need to step in when the capsule was about to be pierced by the needle! However, they worked through slowly, and after the first pour they understood completely.
As a wine loving couple, they’ll typically open a bottle of wine and share it together. They also don’t always agree on which wines they like, so they’ll both open a bottle and drink their own favourite over the course of the weekend.
While they were amazed at Coravin, they said they wouldn’t have paid much money for it. That’s because they’re already used to opening bottles – either to share or to enjoy themselves over multiple days – and so wouldn’t really have much use for it.
With that in mind, I’d argue that Coravin isn’t always a good gift. This is a very niche product which only provides real value to certain types of people. While the right person could send you a thousand thank-you’s for changing their wine game, many wine lovers won’t have too much use for it.
Conclusion – Is Coravin Worth The Money?
Alright, let’s circle back to the start.
In my opinion, Coravin is worth it if you belong to select group of wine lovers. These include:
- Single people
- Those in relationships with only one wine drinker
- Couples with different wine tastes
- Luxury wine collectors
- Small restaurant owners
If you’re thinking of getting Coravin as a gift for someone else, make sure they would actually use it. It’s quite a niche product. Lifechanging for the right kind of person, but kind of useless for many everyday wine drinkers.
I hope this short review has helped clear things up for you! If you’re looking of picking up a Coravin system, I recommend buying directly from their website. You’ll typically receive a better service and customer support than if you gave some of the profit to Amazon (or a similar marketplace).
If you’re looking to learn more, be sure to check out our other related wine articles below.
Thanks for reading. Cheers to your next glass!