I love good wine – I’m partial to cool-climate Pinot noirs but love Shiraz just as much – and have even done a WSET wine tasting course. But this article isn’t about my wine snobbery: it’s about opening a delicious bottle after a long day at work, enjoying a glass or two... and then knowing that, sadly, it’s not going to taste the same when I reach for the bottle again in a few days’ time. (Damn you, oxidation!)
You see, lately I find myself reaching for the whisky or making myself a martini – I like a little variety in my choice of drinks. So opening a bottle of vino inevitably means I’m going to have to face drinking a slightly vinegary version in a few days.
Or at least that was the case, before trying the Coravin Pivot.
This rather fancy bottle topper claims be able to keep wine tasting just as good weeks after you’ve opened it – and after trialling one, I can testify to the fact that it works. While it didn’t quite live up to that four-week promise, the three weeks it managed is honestly more than I expected.
Coravin’s wine preservation systems aren’t actually new. The company has been around for a while, bringing us other wine preservation systems like the Coravin Sparkling that can keep your bubbly bubbling away for a long while. Unlike the other Coravin products, though, the Pivot is far more affordable and designed for ‘everyday’ wines, like the ones you’d open in the middle of the week and finish off in a day or two (or over the next few days if you're like me).
This model of the Pivot isn’t the first of its kind either – a previous version used a needle to pierce the cork of a bottle (so you weren’t actually 'opening' it) to access the wine. However, new-world wines – at least the Australian ones – no longer use corks, they’re all screw caps. And thus, the Pivot has had a redesign so it'll fit any bottle of still wine.
The Pivot doesn't just create an airtight seal either: it also adds a puff of 100% argon into a bottle to minimize oxygen exposure. The argon acts as a protective barrier between the air and the wine, and is entirely safe to consume. Argon is an inert gas, non-toxic and food-grade, and is also used in the bottling process to prevent oxidation of wine at the source. All you have to do is uncork or unscrew the bottle, replace it with the Pivot Stopper (two are included in the box), then insert the long metal tube of the device through the opening in the Stopper. To pour, just tip the bottle so the device’s nozzle is over a glass and press the button on the back of the Pivot. After you’ve finished pouring, just remove the device and close the stopper.
My only real issue with the Pivot is the pouring part. Even though the Pivot’s handle has a good grip and the button is nicely placed to be within reach of the thumb, you have to use both hands – one to hold the bottle itself, the other to grip the device and press the button. To me, at least, that feels unnatural, as I hold the bottle at the base to pour, like a sommelier (hey, that’s how I was taught and it’s now a habit). You can’t pour without holding the bottle, as picking it up by just the Pivot’s handle feels extremely insecure. Using two hands to pour might not be an issue for most users, but for me it's quite awkward.
That small niggle aside, it was great to be able to reach for an open bottle of wine two weeks after the fact, and find it tasted almost as good as it did on day one. It was only after that two-week period that I gradually began to find a difference in taste. It was still very drinkable, but the bouquet and taste felt a bit more muted. By the end of the third week, the flavour had changed quite a bit.
Before the Pivot came into my life, I never really thought it would be possible to make an open bottle of wine stay fresh and drinkable this long. I’d usually end up cooking with what was left after a week and I’ve also been guilty of throwing some out because it was just not usable at all. And every time I had to cook with the oxidized wine (I’d rather drink it) or pour it down the drain, my heart would break. The Coravin Pivot now lets me savor my favorite reds over a longer period of time.
The Coravin Pivot is available to buy directly from the maker in the US, UK and Australia for $99 / £119.99 / AU$184.95 respectively, and also from select wine stores. At this price, it’s definitely worth getting one if you’re a regular (gradual) wine drinker, or even gifting it to a wine lover you may know.