Warning: a glass of wine can leave you with a sore head, feeling wheezy and a generally feeling unwell – but it’s not because of the alcohol. The culprit for sensitive wine connoisseurs are sulphites, sulphur-based compounds that preserves wine while in storage. Now, a new device claims to removes those pesky chemicals from your favourite glass of Merlot or Chablis. Ullo operates as a ‘smart filter system’, capturing the compounds as wine is poured through the device and into a glass. Ullo is now finishing its campaign at Kickstarter, where it passed the huge goal of $100,000. The device costs $50 (for pre-order with five filters) and the retail price after will be around $70. Metro spoke with founder and CEO, James Kornacki, about drinking pure wine.
How did you come up with the idea for this device?
— I have an aunt who is sensitive to sulphites. When I began learning more about these chemicals while completing my PhD in chemistry, I realized that there are so many others who are also sensitive or allergic to these compounds. And I think many of them are cautious of the chemicals that we ingest, so I decided to create Ullo.
How exactly does the wine purification happen?
— Inside Ullo is a sophisticated filter material that I developed. It removes sulphites selectively from wine, because when wine is passed through, the sulphites “stick” to the filter are are retained, while everything else in the wine flows past unaffected.
But people can also opt for organic wine that has no sulphites…
— Organic wine is wine made without additional sulphites added, and for that reason it cannot be aged and is highly susceptible to spoilage. This is why organic wines always tastes so young and can’t develop traditional wine characteristics. That said, I’m glad winemakers are experimenting with natural and organic wines, because I believe they can be much healthier than traditional wines. Ullo removes sulphites from any wine and always preserves the flavor and character of the wine. So you get the best of both worlds – great-tasting wine that’s also sulphite-free.
What about the taste: can Ullo alter the wine's flavor?
— Sulphites have a distinctly bitter taste that is often noticeable in white wines, where the flavor is less masked by tannins. Most tasters notice a difference in white wines, and 75% prefer the Ullo-purified wine. We don’t notice a change in red wines, other than the improvement noted from aeration.
Tell us about the device’s design.
— We spent nearly a year developing the design after first examining all of the different ways that people enjoy wine. Ullo is meant to work in any wine drinking scenario, from a single glass to an entire bottle, socially or individually. It's meant to be a simple and delightful experience that enhances the ritual of wine-drinking.
Yet, even so, some people may be resistant to try your device because they'll have a little of work to purify all the bottles...
— Many consumers want the chemicals out of their food, and I think wine should be no different. We have many options for eating food without added chemicals or preservatives, and now we have that option for wine. And it's so easy to use.