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coravinIt may be a mistaken impression on my part, but since the introduction of the Coravin in 2013, I have not noticed an appreciable expansion of wines by the glass on restaurant wine lists. Why?

The Coravin is a device that allows a server to extract wine through the cork via a thin needle without opening the bottle. Before the wine is extracted, a layer of protective, non-reactive Argon gas is injected ensuring that no oxygen can interact with the wine. The wine is then drawn through the needle and poured into the glass; the naturally elastic material of the cork reseals itself. The remaining wine is undamaged and available to be poured another time.

When the device was first introduced I thought its most immediate impact would be to allow restaurants to make more wines available by the glass. The big obstacle for restaurants serving wine by the glass is that once a bottle is opened its contents must be consumed within a day or so or the wine will lose its freshness and spoil. Restaurants cannot afford to throw away expensive wine, so they tend to offer just a few crowd pleasers increasing the chances that all the open wine will be sold.

The Coravin eliminates that problem. Theoretically, restaurants could offer 100 wines by the glass without worrying about spoilage. Because it would significantly increase the strength of their wine list, and provide opportunities for charging premium prices for desirable wines , it seems it would be worth the $300 cost of the device. (Even if for efficiencies sake they needed more than one device, over time the costs would be recouped)

Yet, I haven’t found this to be a trend. Of course, some restaurants do a good job with their by-the-glass program but I haven’t noticed a significant increase in the number of wines offered.

Perhaps there are other practical problems with extensive by-the-glass lists that I’m not aware of. (And there was the concern about bottles exploding but that has been addressed by the manufacturer.)

So why has the Coravin not revolutionized restaurant wine service?

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