Do we really need more wine gadgets?

I can remember someone producing, a few years ago, a rather ugly plastic contraption that boasted that it could remove the taste imparted on wine by a bad cork. I tested the thing at the time and it seemed to me that all it did was to partially mask this unpleasant taste with another one of plastic: almost as unpleasant in fact.

Since then we have seen a spate of wine aerators of all kinds of shapes and sizes, some of them having the appearance of sex toys of variable sizes.

I was recently contacted by an agency wanting me to go to a lunch and tasting with the producer of yet another gadget whose annouced aim is to remove all trace of sulfites in a wine and return the same wine to its « natural » flavours. If these flavours have been enhanced or recreated by a contraption that includes a filter with some kind of powder in it, plus a series of plastic bits and pieces, I am not too sure how « natural » this makes the flavours, but let’s pass on such a philosophical debate. Anyway, I declined the invitation to lunch and asked to be sent an example to test at home, away from any form of influence. The agency kindly agreed to my request and I tested the thing with two wines, one white and one red.

The object (shown above with all its packaging and bits) is called üllo, which sounds as if it could be swedish. It is elaborately packaged, to the point where I found it quite hard to get into the thing. Having slotted the appropriate bits together, I then sought out a suitably  and reasonably sulphured white wine. This was a decent sauvignon blanc from the Loire. I poured some wine through the apparatus having inserted a kind of capsule in it, like with some coffee machines. This means that you will need to change the capsule with each pour (glass or bottle?) which means there is a cost attached to getting back to nature, not to mention having to hunt around for supplies. The support has two settings, one for aeration and the other without. I set mine to aeration which resulted in half the wine flowing onto the table and not into the glass. I put this down to my lack of experience and continued, eventually managing to fill to half-full one glass from the apparatus and another stright from the bottle. I had my collegue Sébastien with me in anther room and who acted as a blind taster, since I knew which glass was which. He (and I) detected slight cloudiness in the glass that had been poured through üllo (probably die to oxygen induced by the aeration), and a rounder feel to the wine which also seemed to have lost precision in its flavours whilst appearing warmer (or more alcoholic). Wa actually preferred the glass that had been poured straight from the bottle, so maybe we are sulfite addicts?

Next I tried the comparison with a red wine, which happened to be a cabernet franc, though not from the Loire. I was careful not to set the üllo to « air », but it was quite a messy pour all the same as about 5% of the wine went outside the glass and onto the table. This time I could detect no difference between the two glasses, which were of identical size and shape by the way. Maybe the wine didn’t have enough sulfites or maybe I am totally insensitive?

I then went to look at the price of this object which seems to me to be fairly useless. 80 euros ! And then, once you have used the 4 filters that come with it, you have to buy more filters and you use one for each bottle or pour. More money for Amazon along the way too.

So, my advice to you is to buy good wine (not from Amazon) that contains just enough added sulfites to keep it in shape (or none if you like living dangerously and know the winemaker and are not intending to keep it for long) and not worry about useless and expensive gadgets like this !


Next week I will be writing about the excellent international Chenin (blanc) conference that took place last week in Angers.

4 réflexions sur “Do we really need more wine gadgets?

  1. Saw the info about this and was curious to do a blind comparison. (Did not take it all the way to request a sample though.) Rather disappointing result, I’d say.

    It would be interesting to involve a winemaker in the experiment too and ask him to provide two samples shortly after bottling, one that has the normal dose of sulphur and one which he has avoided to sulphur at bottling.

    Run the sulphited wine through the device (with a bit more care an precision.

    Then one can see the effect
    1 – unsulfited wine
    2 – normal sulphited wine
    3 – normal sulphited wine that has been run through the contraption.

    Then if:
    a) 1 and 3 are identical
    b) 2 is different, and
    c) 1 and 3 are better
    then it might make sense.

    But it still seems expensive.

    Actually, it would be even better if the winemaker could privide two sets of samples:
    A) one that has been recently bottled (with the to variants)
    B) one that has been bottled a good time ago (with the to variants)


  2. David Cobbold

    Yes, a proper triangular test makes sense. I have the example of the thing they sent me. Maybe we can do this together if we find a willing producer ?


  3. Ping : Winebits 602: Texas wine, legal weed, wine gadgets

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