Pivot: Coravin's latest preservation system is out
Earlier this year, not long before the pandemic catapulted the entire globe into a dystopian future, Coravin’s Greg Lambrecht launched his three new SmartClamp Coravin models. Now, the mastermind behind one of the world’s most celebrated wine preservation systems has launched Pivot, a new device that might open up the Coravin world to a whole new category of wine drinkers.
Since its launch as a startup back in 2011, the Coravin system has revolutionised the way we consume wine. It consists of a needle that allows to pour wine from the bottle without pulling the cork, while ensuring that the remaining liquid in the glass is “perfectly preserved for weeks, months, or even years”.
Over the years, oenophiles across the globe have widely adopted Coravin, as it allows to enjoy great wine, but doesn't require to commit to an entire bottle all the time. Coravin is now a common sight in restaurants too, as sommeliers can easily broaden their wine-by-the-glass programme while keeping potential wastage down at the same time. I employed it extensively myself in my sommelier days, and now that I’m off the floor I still use Coravin on a fairly regular basis.
Coravin's remarkable success doesn’t mean the device comes without its limitations. The needle is fairly fragile for instance, and the argon gas capsules (necessary to replace the liquid exiting the bottle and protect the leftover wine from oxidation) represent a significant expense if replaced regularly. Furthermore, with a starting price tag of about £/$/€200 for the cheapest models, Coravin itself is perhaps a little too pricey to be taken into consideration by the casual wine drinker.
A new category of Coravin users?
With his latest launch however, founder Greg Lambrecht is convinced that Coravin is opening up to an entirely new market of “everyday wine drinkers”. Dubbed Pivot, the new device promises to keep a bottle of wine fresh for up to four weeks after the first pour.
Pivot is essentially a variation on the Coravin theme, but coming at a much lower cost (£/$/€99 is the launch offer); the main difference being that the wine’s original closure needs to be removed and replaced with Pivot’s own stoppers.
Once the stopper is in place, the device is inserted to access the wine by pressurising the bottle with argon gas.
Affordability is certainly one Pivot's strengths; another is speed. Indeed, according to Lambrecht Pivot’s pour speed is comparable to that of pouring directly from the bottle (the device’s spout is indeed considerably wider than that of the original Coravin). Faster pour also means that less argon gas is needed for the same amount of wine you would pour through a conventional Coravin – on paper, each capsule can pour about 20 150ml glasses.
Last but not least, Pivot's stoppers are compatible with all still wine bottle shapes and closure types, from glass to cork, and screwcap to synthetic, which is instead one of Coravin’s big limitations.
Although it’s true that Pivot comes at a lower price point, recurring costs are comparable to those of the original Coravin. Firstly, you would still need to purchase argon gas capsules (about £/$/€9 each on average) as you would do with your Coravin - although, as I mentioned, pours are much less gas-consuming. You would also need to own one stopper for each bottle you wish to use Pivot on. Currently, Pivot comes bundled with two stoppers only, so if you’re planning to use the device on more than two bottles at one time, you’ll have to purchase more (spares will be on the market as of next year, with a price-tag comparable to Coravin's screwcaps – £/$/€30 for a pack of six). During the launch of the product, Lambrecht pointed out that once a bottle has been injected with argon gas through the Pivot device, it will be safe from oxidation regardless of closure, so the Pivot stopper can actually be replaced with the original closure and the stopper used on a different bottle. It’s not a technique I would be willing to experiment on expensive labels, but certainly a useful tip to bear in mind for those who like to keep costs down.
Despite the potential downsides, Pivot is an exciting new product. It carries great potential to help everyday drinkers trade up in wine quality, and casual dining venues develop a more premium offering by the glass – a much needed USP in these challenging times.
I will be testing the device over the next few weeks and will be posting a detailed review in the new year, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can check out my review of Coravin and other wine preservations systems here.
Pivot is currently available in four colours (black, teal, coral, and light grey) at coravin.com and at all Coravin's regional sites. The product launches at £/$/€99 but will retail at £/$/€119 from 1st January 2021. The pack includes a Pivot device, two stoppers and one argon gas capsule.