The Üllo Wine Purifier: Background
Let’s talk about sulphites. Oh go on — you never let me talk about sulphites anymore. They’re my favourite preservative. I just love the way their antibacterial properties help to prevent oxidisation and keep my wine fresh…
Yes, sulphites (or “sulfites” if you’re American) are so commonly used as a preservative in wine that many of us would have to go miles out of our way to track down a sulphite-free bottle.
But are sulphites harmful? Most people can tolerate a spot of sulphuric intervention with no obvious ill effects… but an unfortunate percentage of drinkers are allergic to this form of chemical preservation. James Kornacki’s aunt, for example.
“James Kornacki’s aunt?!” I hear you cry. “That’s rather a random name-drop”. Not so fast. Chemist and entrepreneur James Kornacki, you see, invented the Üllo Wine Purifier I’m testing here. All so that his aunt could enjoy a nice glass of vino without coming out in hives. Now that, you must admit, is going beyond the call of nephewly duty.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Üllo is that it’s beautifully packaged and solidly constructed. It feels robust and expensive and, crucially, it won’t cramp the style of your drinks shelf.
I tested mine with a Californian Zinfandel. Not for any specific reason… I just had one to hand.
Thankfully for the technically challenged (like me), it’s simple to operate: just prise it open and pop in a filter (which resembles a circular teabag). Then choose whether or not you want aeration, and pour your wine through the top, like filling a filtered water jug. The Üllo filter acts like a sulphur magnet, singling out the sulphites while retaining all other compounds.
Although the filters are a piece of cake to add, I did have a little trouble working out how to select the aeration. There are two little markers on the side (Air and
Air) and I couldn’t see where to line them up. Maybe this is due to my age-related macular degeneration — I’ve lost the ability to read small print and now have to hold restaurant menus at arm’s length, like my dad. Eventually I managed it by trial and error.
I first tested the wine aerated; then free-poured it, without the Üllo. What a difference! There was a clear increase in smoothness and a drastic mitigation of bitterness. I’m not certain how much of this was due to aeration and how much was down to the reduction in sulphites from the filter (I’d need to change into my lab coat and safety goggles to ascertain that), but the wine tasted about 20 percent more velvety, and that’ll do for me.
Hangover-wise… that’s harder to gague. I’m sure it’s not sulphites that give me that “never drinking again” feeling of being poisoned paired with existential dread, and I must admit I did have a slight headache the morning after this test. But then I guess drinking 70cl of 14.5% volume Zinfandel tends to do that to you, sulphites or otherwise.
I’ll definitely be using the Üllo again and will update this piece as I gather further information about its efficacy. If you’ve isolated an issue with sulphur dioxide in your own life, then this device looks to be a no-brainer. The only issue some customers might have is that the filters are single use, and at £3 each that’s gonna significantly increase the cost of your wine (unless your tastes are really expensive).
It sure did smooth out my Zinfandel though — like Barry White smeared in butter, draped in a silk kimono. And what’s not to love about that?
Available for £69.99 in the UK (includes ten filters. Ten extra filters cost £29.99).
See the Üllo website for details.