Wine drinkers who lack the commitment to finish the whole bottle will soon have a digital solution, as the Internet of Things attempts to wirelessly-connect yet another part of our lives. Kuvée is hoping to give the wine bottle some smarts, with a WiFi-enabled sleeve that brings Keurig-style convenience to casual drinking – albeit at a price.
Kuvée’s target audience is the indecisive or uncommitted: people who might want to switch between different types of wine rather than finish a whole bottle in one sitting, or who may only thirst for one or two glasses at a time.
Metal canisters of wine slot into an oversized “bottle” with a touchscreen on the front. Each canister lasts for up to 30 days, using a special one-way valve to allow the wine out without air getting in.
The display allows information about the specific wine to be shown, including food pairings and information about the vineyard it came from, and eventually you’ll be able to reorder directly from the bottle.
It’s there you run into one of the key issues: range. Kuvée says it’ll have around 50 different varieties when it launches in select markets come October 2016, but there’s a fair chance your favorite wine won’t be on that list. The pleasure in finding an offbeat bottle is a lot tougher to come by, when you’re picking from a range selected for broadest appeal.
Initial vineyard partners include Bonny Doon, B.R. Cohn, Pine Ridge, Round Pond, Girard, and Schug.
Then there’s price. The company’s starter kit – with four 750ml bottles and the Kuvée Smart Bottle sleeve itself – is $349*, though early-bird backers of its Indiegogo campaign can save a hundred dollars or more off that. Individual wines will cost between $15 and $50; figure on a mark-up over a regular bottle.
*UPDATE/NOTE: This price actually also includes a $160 voucher for future wine purchases. Meanwhile the Kuvée Bottle and four wines is priced at $199.
If all this sounds like needlessly-restrictive technobabble, there are alternatives. The most important factor when it comes to preserving a half-opened bottle of wine is keeping oxygen away from what’s left in the bottle: decanting the leftover wine into a smaller, sealable container is a good start.
Alternatively, there are slightly more complex ways of doing it. The cheapest I’ve found – and had success with – is Private Preserve, which is basically a spray can of various inert gases that you add, carefully, to the wine bottle and which blankets the remaining drink so that oxygen can’t reach it. It’s under $10 a can, simple to use, and I’ve had half-drunk bottles last several weeks without a noticeable loss in flavor.
If you’ve got a little more to spend, Coravin’s Model Two Plus basically does what Private Preserve does, only in a more controlled way: stabbing through the cork with a thin needle, with which it can be extract a glass’ worth of wine and replace that volume with argon gas. It’s around $350, but unlike Kuvée will work with any bottle of wine that has a cork.
Kuvée is aiming to raise $50,000 over the next month.