The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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Page 99 of 107

100 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { service technology } MINIBAR'S CORAVIN PROGRAM GIVES GUESTS A TASTE OF LUXURY, ONE SIP AT A TIME by Kelly A. Magyarics / photos by Mark Finkenstaedt Measure for Measure muses Lucas Paya, referring to the opportunity for guests to taste rare, high-end wines though custom- sized pours from the Coravin system, rather than committing to ordering an entire bottle—or even an entire glass. Last September, Paya, Wine Director for the 16 (soon to be 20) concepts of José Andrés's ThinkFoodGroup, headquartered in Washington, D.C., incorporated Coravin at minibar, Andrés's prix fixe temple of molecular gastronomy. Currently, around 35 wines are available via Coravin, on an ever-changing list whose offerings depend on the season and the whims of the open kitchen. Paya and his staff leave the size of pours up to the guest. "These wines are like liquid gold, a luxury product that needs to be served by the portion, similar to caviar," he explains. Guests at minibar (and at barmini, the adjacent innovative cocktail lounge-slash-laboratory) can order any amount from 30 milliliters up to 750 milliliters of the wines available through the Coravin. The menu lists the price per milliliter, as well as a handy conver- sion chart for the metric system–averse, noting that a taste of wine is about 30 milliliters, while a glass is 150 milliliters. Options range from 12 cents/ml for the 2008 Rudi Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd from Austria, up to $4/ml for the 1947 Château dYquem Sauternes. Paya is adamant about serving these Coravin- delivered wines directly from the bottle to the glass, rather than transferring them to another vessel first to measure them. The latter method, he says, poses three problems. Free pouring leaves too much room for error, as well as a small amount of wine in the ves- sel after pouring it to the stemware—a major waste consideration for restaurants serving really expensive wines. Also, double-pouring decants and aerates the wine—which may or may not be desirable, and can lead to a wine's premature degradation, especially for older vintages. "WE'VE NEVER HAD THIS BEAUTIFUL PROBLEM BEFORE," Lucas Paya, Wine Director for José Andrés's ThinkFoodGroup, uses the Coravin system to serve wine-by-the-milliliter. Somm Journal June/July.indd 100 5/9/14 12:13 PM

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