The world has bigger problems than the opened, unfinished bottle of wine, but admit it: You hate the taste of days-old wine, and you hate pouring the spoiled stuff down the drain.
Once uncorked or unscrewed, a bottle of wine typically loses its flavor in one to five days, depending on factors such as its type, temperature, and how it’s stored. Now there’s Kuvee, a Boston startup that claims its system keeps opened wine fresh for at least 30 days.
Air releases flavor in some wines after they’re opened, but quickly becomes the enemy. Kuvee keeps out the air by holding wine in cartridge-like plastic bottles lined with a plastic bladder and sealed with a valve. To pour the wine, the bottles are inserted into the company’s digital dispenser. To try a different wine, simply swap bottles, the leftover wine will keep until the next soiree.
Kuvee, after the French tete de cuvee, which signifies a quality vintage, was founded in 2014 by Vijay Manwani, a software executive and serial entrepreneur, after he took a wine course at Boston University. He launched the project on Indiegogo, and later raised $6 million in venture capital. Kuvee bottles 50 varieties of wine bought in bulk from 20 different winemakers, such as Francis Ford Coppola and B.R. Cohn. Choices range from $15 to $50, competitive with the prices the wines would cost in a liquor store. Kuvee is now available in five states, including Massachusetts, and will begin distributing in most states in April.
Manwani also wanted to help teach people about wine, which is why the $199 dispenser (the price includes four bottles of wine) comes with Wi-Fi and a touchscreen display to serve up details such as when it was opened, how much is left, and the cost. In addition, customers can submit and read ratings, order more, and get information Kuvee provides.
“We give you the story of the wine and help you understand how to pair it with food. We make you feel more confident about wine,” Manwani says. But for Kuvee customer Audra Myerberg of Lexington, what matters is the convenience of being able to open multiple bottles of wine for friends without the cost of letting some go to waste.
Wine enthusiasts could, of course, spend as little as $15 for a vacuum pump stopper, but Kuvee argues these only keep wine fresh for a couple of days. Another technique to preserve flavor is to inject gas into a bottle to “blanket” wine and protect it from oxygen. One such approach, Coravin’s $200 to $350 system, inserts a slender needle through a natural cork to draw out wine, then injects argon into the bottle from a replaceable capsule and lets the cork reseal.
Serious oenophiles may be concerned about whether Kuvee’s plastic bladder changes the flavor of the wine. Manwani says the plastic in the Kuvee system has no impact on the flavor, other than to keep it fresh. As for choice, he says the company expects to offer 200 wines by year’s end, and more over time.
During the holidays, I tried out Kuvee and four of its wines. I didn’t taste any plastic, and all seemed fresh even four weeks after being opened. It might not be for everyone, but for those who want freshness combined with wine advice at their fingertips, Kuvee could be just the thing.
■ Smarter wine dispenser: Sealable bottles preserve taste while the dispenser displays information about the wine.
■ Particulars: 14 x 3.25 inches; 1.5 pounds
■ Battery life: The display lasts 24 hours between charges.
■ Connectivity: Wi-Fi is primarily for user ratings and ordering more wine.