Michael Austin

Correspondent

  • Chicago, Illinois, USA

Michael Austin is a correspondent who lives in Chicago and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. He has also covered food, wine, beer and travel for Esquire, GQ, Outside and the Chicago Tribune Magazine. He collaborated with Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, Art Smith, on the cooking and lifestyle book Back to the Family, and with Bay Area cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Dean Ornish on The Spectrum. A national James Beard Award finalist for magazine feature writing, Austin writes the wine and beer column ”Let It Pour“ for the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • On July 2, 2014
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  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    What is the Coravin System?

    The Coravin System is a revolutionary device using new technology that will change the way the world drinks wine. The technology seems a bit like magic but really is the result of 10 years of testing and research, allowing oenophiles and the wine-curious to easily pour glasses of wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork. At the heart of the technology is a thin, hollow needle that passes through the foil and cork, and, using patented pressure regulation technology, allows one to pour a glass of wine leaving the cork completely intact. With the Coravin System, gone are the days of opening a bottle and dumping half of it down the drain a week later, or worse, not opening a great, aged bottle for fear of wasting some of it. Once the Coravin System needle passes through the cork, the Coravin pressurizes the bottle with argon, an inert gas in the air we breathe — a gas that winemakers have been using for years. The beauty of the Coravin is that no oxygen enters the bottle in the process, and when the needle is pulled out the cork naturally reseals itself, allowing for many more perfect Coravin System pours.
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    Why is the Coravin System great for wine lovers?

    The Coravin System solves one of the biggest dilemmas a wine drinker can face — to open or not open a bottle for just a single glass. Because the Coravin System allows for a single pour of wine from a bottle without ever pulling the cork, the rest of the bottle will be yours to enjoy when you decide to enjoy it, one pour at a time. Want to try a single glass from an expensive aged bottle in your cellar? No problem. Fancy a glass of red and a glass of white but don’t want to open two bottles? No problem. The Coravin System employs a hollow needle that passes through the foil and cork of a wine bottle and accesses the wine using pressurized argon, an inert gas in the air that we breathe. With the Coravin System, wine lovers can prevent the oxidization process in their precious bottles without quelling their curiosity or interest in trying wines one glass at a time. It’s kind of like having a restaurant by-the-glass program at home.
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    Which wineries use the Coravin System for wine tasting?

    Silver Oak Cellars of Oakville, California, is one prominent winery that uses the Coravin System. “After a few controlled experiments with Coravin we think this is a great product for people who want to enjoy a glass of wine,” says David Duncan, Silver Oak’s president and CEO. “Even more exciting is the option to have a taste of several wines at once.” Coravin investor Chuck McMinn also uses the system to great success at his Vineyard 29 winery. “The Coravin 1000 is going to dramatically change the way fine wines are enjoyed by removing the ‘all or nothing’ choice as to when to open a bottle,” McMinn says. Quite simply, the Coravin System unlocks the cellar door for wineries. Now wineries can feel free to offer tastes of their finest bottles with absolutely zero fear of waste. The possibilities are endless: encouraging guests to try fine wines they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to try; the creation of new, unique flights; expanded vertical tastings; and virtually limitless food and wine pairings.
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    Which fine-dining restaurants use the Coravin System for wine by the glass?

    Combining European culinary traditions with the bounty of California, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant Manresa, in Los Gatos, California, is an early adopter of the Coravin System. Other restaurants using the technology include Acquerello in San Francisco; Westend Bistro, Minibar and The Pig in Washington, D.C.; Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Le Cirque, Costata, Ai Fiori, NoMad, Felidia and Craft in New York City; L’Espalier, Mooo and Sorellina in Boston; and Le Cirque, Carnevino, Craftsteak and Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas. The Coravin System is set to revolutionize by-the-glass programs nationwide, allowing restaurants to offer for the first time a broader selection of fine wines by the glass. Those pricey bottles will not suffer the devastating effects of oxidization caused by pulling the cork. Instead, they will continue to evolve naturally. The Coravin System allows restaurateurs to encourage their guests to try iconic wines they might not have tried had they not been offered the wine by the glass. And as the restaurant world continues to embrace Coravin’s technology, new restaurants are offering a Coravin experience all the time. Check out the most up-to-date listings here.
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    Which food and wine experts use the Coravin System?

    Some of the country’s most respected wine professionals use the Coravin System — from restaurateur/winemaker Joe Bastianich, who loved the new technology so much he invested in it, to world-renowned wine writer and critic Robert M. Parker Jr., who says: “Coravin is the most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been developed/invented in the last 30-plus years.” Chef José Andrés, owner of ThinkFoodGroup and Minibar restaurant in Washington D.C., predicts that “the Coravin will revolutionize wine drinking.” Sommelier Rajat Parr, the wine director of the Michael Mina Group, says, “All wine lovers should have a Coravin. Pour wine without pulling the cork.” Master Sommelier Peter Granoff, owner of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco and Oxbow Market Wine Merchant in Napa, puts it most profoundly. “In my 35 years as a wine professional I have seen many silly wine gadgets come to market, often with barely credible claims made about their properties,” Granoff says. “Coravin is unequivocally different.”
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    Which types of wine are accessible with the Coravin System?

    With the revolutionary Coravin System, which allows wine lovers to pour a single glass of wine from a bottle without pulling the cork, any bottle with a natural cork is fair game. The Coravin System can just as easily pull wine out of a magnum or a small dessert wine bottle. The Coravin’s hollow needle passes through the foil and cork and, with the aid of an inert gas called argon (which we breathe in the air every day), pulls a perfect pour through the cork, which then naturally reseals itself. The Coravin System even offers a special needle, sold separately, for extra delicate vintage corks. The only bottles that are not accessible via the Coravin System are sparkling wines — due to the carbonation and pressure already in the bottle — and bottles with screw caps, as the metal would obviously not reseal. Also, synthetic closures are not ideal because they lack the natural elasticity needed to reseal themselves when the needle is pulled out, as natural corks do.
  • On January 24, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    What is the Coravin System?

    The Coravin System is a revolutionary device using new technology that will change the way the world drinks wine. The technology seems a bit like magic but really is the result of 10 years of testing and research, allowing oenophiles and the wine-curious to easily pour glasses of wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork. At the heart of the technology is a thin, hollow needle that passes through the foil and cork, and, using patented pressure regulation technology, allows one to pour a glass of wine leaving the cork completely intact. With the Coravin System, gone are the days of opening a bottle and dumping half of it down the drain a week later, or worse, not opening a great, aged bottle for fear of wasting some of it. Once the Coravin System needle passes through the cork, the Coravin pressurizes the bottle with argon, an inert gas in the air we breathe — a gas that winemakers have been using for years. The beauty of the Coravin is that no oxygen enters the bottle in the process, and when the needle is pulled out the cork naturally reseals itself, allowing for many more perfect Coravin System pours.
  • On January 23, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    What are the best places in Las Vegas to get wine by the glass?

    Sin City is not just full of gaming tables and glitzy shows. The place is a dining mecca, thanks to the high-profile chefs and restaurateurs who have flocked there over the past two decades. For wine by the glass, the best places in town are the legendary Le Cirque at the Bellagio, Carnevino, Craftsteak and Delmonico Steakhouse. Emeril is in the game with his Delmonico Steakhouse, and so are chef Mario Batali and restaurateur/winemaker Joe Bastianich — all using the innovative Coravin System for extracting wine without removing corks. At Carnevino, an Italian steakhouse by Batali and Bastianich, close to 35 wines are available by the glass, ranging in price from $10 to $1,000 per pour — an impressive range. Chef Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM Grand offers 22 wines by the glass and an additional 18 “special and unique wines by the glass made possible by the Coravin,” including the 2008 Joseph Phelps Insignia, 2010 Opus One and 2010 Sine Qua Non Five Star Shooter. Have fun at the gaming tables but save a few chips for some rare wines by the glass, too.
  • On January 23, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    What are the best places in Boston to get wine by the glass?

    In Boston, dining options abound and Bostonians love their wine, but two restaurants in particular are upping their by-the-glass game by using the Coravin System to pour special tastes. At Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star L’Espalier, wine director Lauren Collins collaborates with chef Frank McClelland to make wine pairing simple in practice, but complex in every other way. In other words, the wine should taste good to you first and foremost, and then it should also match whatever food you are enjoying. Collins and McClelland search far and wide for great wines, constantly tasting new offerings yet purchasing less than one percent of what they taste. As Collins is fond of saying, “It is our job to kiss all the frogs so we can bring you the prince.” Sorellina, sister restaurant of Mooo, is another Boston gem with a great wine-by-the glass program. The restaurant’s Italian-centric wine list features nearly 40 wines by the glass — from sparkling to white, to red and dessert styles. They always stock Italian and American standards while also offering wines from more obscure corners of the wine world.
  • On January 23, 2014
    Michael Austin answered the question: Michael Austin

    What are the best places in Washington D.C. to get wine by the glass?

    The nation’s capital is home to several restaurants and wine bars with great by-the-glass programs but three of the best are Westend Bistro, which is a cross between French bistro fare and contemporary American cuisine, mixing flavors of the Chesapeake, Provence and the French Riviera; Minibar, the avant-garde food temple of chef José Andrés; and The Pig, a pork-centric restaurant that adheres to nose-to-tail cooking and sourcing local seasonal ingredients, including vegetables from their farm in nearby La Plata, Maryland. At The Pig, four separate four-ounce Coravin pours are available for $19 to $24: Duckhorn Goldeneye pinot noir, Caymus cabernet sauvignon, DuMOL pinot noir and Spottswoode cabernet sauvignon. Sommelier Michael H. Kennedy II handles the wine picks at Westend Bistro and they do not disappoint. The exciting news is, a glass of literally any wine on his impressive list can be had for one-fourth of the bottle price — a rare opportunity for wine lovers.
  • On January 21, 2014
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