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Side-By-Side Tastings With Coravin

Woman holding a glass of red wine featuring a Coravin Wine Preservation System on bottle.

No matter what stage of your wine education you are in, there is no doubt that hands-on learning is crucial. With wine tasting being an experience rooted in the senses, tasting and smelling the difference between one varietal and another is the best way to understand its subtleties. To explore how Coravin helps Master Sommeliers and wine novices alike to connect the dots between what they’re reading about wines with how it feels, we partnered with Nicole Dalton of Grape Chic, who brushed up on her side-by-side tasting skills with the Coravin Model Two Elite.

If you’re like me, getting hands-on with wine is the best way to learn and understand wine.

You can spend hours reading wine books and articles online, but without opening your senses and tasting the wine first hand, it’s hard to understand why and what you’re experiencing. Whether you’re studying wine or just an enthusiast, the Coravin is an essential tool to help you understand terroir, climate, body, acid, tannin, aromas etc. without wasting a full bottle of wine.

While studying for my WSET 2 I discovered the power of side-by-side tastings. For example, I could never really grasp the body or “mouth feel” of a wine until I immediately tried another wine that was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Not sure how to pinpoint acidity? Try a Sancerre next to a warm climate Chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation. I promise you’ll have a better understanding. I should also mention that you don’t have to be studying wine to reap the benefits of side-by-side tastings. Maybe, you’re just unsure of which wine you’re in the mood for, or which one suits your needs better for that moment in time.

Empty wine glasses and different bottles of wine on a table, featuring a Coravin Wine Preservation System.

So, how can Coravin help you do a side by side tasting at home?

The Coravin uses a tiny needle to puncture through the cork to access the wine without causing any cork damage. While pouring, Argon gas (an inert gas that is already used in the winemaking process) is released to protect the wine from oxidation. Once the needle is ejected, the cork will actually reseal itself allowing you to go ahead and store the rest of the bottle back in your cellar. Because of this unique preservation system, you can pour just a tasting (or a glass) from each bottle you want to try and save the rest of the bottle for another time!

From the Model One, the original model, to the Model Two Elite and Model Eleven, there’s a product for everyone’s needs and price point. (This video gives a quick refresher on how to use the system for anyone new to Coravin.)

Nicole Dalton of Grape Chic using a Coravin to taste glasses of red wine.

Last weekend, I brushed up on my tasting skills comparing La Crema Pinot Noir from Sonoma vs. Stag’s Leap Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Tasting these two side by side immediately allowed me to recognize the difference in aroma, body and tannin (among many other things). The cool Sonoma nights and foggy mornings are imperative for the thin-skinned Pinot Noir grape to retain acid. The La Crema was also lighter bodied and less tannic than the big Napa Cabernet that receives more sun and high temperatures for a longer period of time. I had already known these things were true from my studies, but the Coravin allowed me to truly comprehend this by tasting and exposing my senses without wasting both bottles by the end of it.

For my wine enthusiast husband, it was the perfect opportunity to try both and decide which one he wanted to drink for the evening. The Coravin allowed us to make that choice without feeling the wasted wine guilt. For this, I am grateful!

Trying a side-by-side wine comparison this weekend? Tweet us how your experiment went!