I don’t just love weed – I’m a fan of liquor and wine too. I’ve tasted a lot of wine bottles over the years, and there are definitely differences between wineries and regions of the same type. I appreciate the different grape varieties used, and the wineries I’ve visited around the U.S., Mexico, and Europe all have unique things they bring to the table.
When a PR rep through me Ullo instead of one of the useful brands we were actually looking for, we decided to put this novelty tchotchke through some paces to see how well it works.
What Is Ullo?
Ullo is a wine trinket funded on Kickstarter that calls itself “a revolutionary wine purifier that restores the natural taste of wine with Selective Sulfite Capture filter technology. The box claims Ullo restores your wine to its natural state to breathe life into reds, maintain the balance of whites, and enjoy a more pure wine.
Winemakers add sulfites to wine during the production process in order to preserve the liquid in the bottles. They prevent browning of fruits by stopping the oxidation process. Like gluten, people have allergic and adverse reactions to sulfites, although they’re far from deadly or even inconveniencing.
The black box came with a handful of filters, the Ullo device, and a stand. The stand and device are mostly made of silicone rubber, while the aerator itself is plastic, as are the beads used in the filters. These filters look similar to what you use in a Brita or Keurig, but they’re actually a proprietary plastic compound chemically designed to act as a magnet for the amount of sulfites contained in a 750ml bottle of wine.
Wine Purification and Airation
With the dangers of vaping coming to light, people are curious about the dangers of sulfites and even of the polymers used in the filters of Ullo. It’s not a net like a carbon filter – in fact sulfites are the smallest molecules in the wine, so it’s actually the molecular bond that’s making everything happen.
It’s not just filtration and purification. Ullo also aerates your wine as you pour. This gives it more flavor and body, providing a one-two punch to the wine. Each bottle you pour soaks slowly through the filter and passes through the aeration chamber before resting in your glass, decanter, or other drinking vessel.
Does Ullo Work?
I’m not a chemist, but the chemist who reviewed Ullo for Gadgeteer didn’t really provide any science anyway. In fact, he didn’t really provide any information at all about the chemistry involved. What he at least mentioned is that wine is a very subjective topic and everyone who’s tried a bottle through this filter has mixed results.
Personally, I brought a friend over and we downed two bottles (one red and one white) last weekend. She seemed to notice more of a difference than I did in the flavor change between the filtered and unfiltered. By the second bottle, we even got fancy and started blindfolding each other to see what we really could distinguish.
My Tinder date’s fetishes aside, Ullo was definitely interesting to use. It modified the flavor a bit, taking some tang out and adding to the woody flavor, but it also adds another $3 to the bottle price (after the $80 initial buy, of course).
The margins on this thing have to be amazing at $80 up front, and I do appreciate the Juicero/Keurig-like business model. I don’t, however, believe there’s a market for this product, since $80 is more than the average person spends on one bottle of wine, and the upkeep of the device itself is just not worth the very limited appeal.
If sulfites truly bother you, Ullo filters absolutely work. If you love wine gadgets, it’s just different enough from Coravin to be worthwhile. Otherwise, you can skip this novelty.