We drink a fair amount of wine in our world. From my wife’s Friday evening wine club to our many social engagements, we have the opportunity to indulge in some very good vino. A majority of the wine we consume comes from what most would consider classic vineyards. That said, we have several friends and coworkers who only drink sulfite-free wines. They usually pay extra and do not have nearly the selection we do across the board. So, when Julie asked if we wanted to try the Üllo Wine Purifier, the chemist in me thought it would be fun and interesting to see if it really removes the sulfites without impacting the wine itself.
The Üllo Wine Purifier is relatively simplistic in its design. The housing is engineered to hold a filter meant to remove a majority of the sulfites as you pour wine thru the assembly. The Üllo can de-sulfite both white and red wines, removing the sulfites added during the bottling process as a preservative.
According to the Üllo Kickstarter page — “An estimated three million Americans are sensitive to sulfites resulting in allergies or respiratory problems, while countless others blame these chemicals for headaches and hangovers”.
Üllo is a Chicago startup with a simple mission to bring wine back to its natural state. Doctor James Kornacki is the inventor of Selective Sulfite Capture™ technology and holds a doctorate in chemistry from Northwestern University. He founded Üllo in 2014 in Chicago as a Kickstarter effort that raised over $150k with thousands of backers.
- POUR – All wine contains sulfites, which are artificial preservatives added during production. They are no longer needed once the bottle is opened.
- PURIFY – Proprietary polymer technology filters away free sulfites and their bitter taste, while allowing other compounds in wine to flow through unaffected.
- PURE WINE – Through Selective Sulfite Capture™, free sulfites are reduced to a more naturally occurring level for most wines.
The ultimate goal is to “return wine to its natural state as if you opened the bottle right at the vineyard.” The Üllo is designed to remove the sulfites, restoring wine to its natural, preservative-free state thus reducing the bitter aftertaste that the chemical many times causes.
In the Box:
- Üllo Wine Purifier
- Travel bag
- Display base
- 4 Selective Sulfite Capture single bottle filters
- Dishwasher safe, BPA-free materials
- Height: 5 7/8” x Width: 4 3/8”
- Üllo filters are made in the USA
The Üllo assembly is made from three pieces of BPA-free plastic and rubber that all click together, are easily pried apart, and dishwasher safe. Here you see the filter that contains a porous, food-grade polymer which selectively removes sulfites while allowing the other compounds in the wine to flow through unaffected. Each filter is supposed to reduce sulfites to less than 10 ppm (parts per million) for one bottle of wine.
The Üllo is engineered to be flexible in how you use it. If you prefer wine by the glass, the Üllo is designed to sit on top of a variety of wine glasses.
Or by the bottle, the Üllo can also fit inside or on top of the mouths of a multitude of carafes and decanters as well.
As I mentioned above, the Üllo Wine Purifier can not only remove/reduce sulfites, but the internal design can aerate red wine or allow white wine to flow thru. That said, I have to add this is the Üllo’s only design weakness. We tried a multitude of different bottles of wine thru the Üllo and even sitting minutes after pouring, we found the aeration it provided lacking. We have gotten used to and prefer the substantial aeration that the Aervana electric aerator produces. But we did try the Üllo in tandem with the Aervana and I believe that achieved the best results.
Does it work…
Well, that is the 24,000 dollar question. And truth be told, I cannot give you a concrete answer without sending samples to a lab for analysis. Being the nerdy scientist I am, I would LOVE to give you some cold, hard numbers into what is a pretty subjective review. All I can give you (for the moment) is the report out from the Wine Club. And sadly results were all over the board. We tried the Üllo wine purifier on several occasions with a variety of nice wines: I found it smoothed out the flavor, a few found no change, and one thought it made the wine more acidic. Like I said…extremely subjective :-/ .
We have friends and coworkers who happen to make wine, with several of them owning full-scale wineries. We stopped by one of them to pick up a case for the holiday get-togethers and my wife mentioned the Üllo wine purifier to Steve, the owner. Well as the story goes, Steve was very interested in not only the chemistry of it but the potential for selling it to those sulfite-sensitive/allergic folks. He says sulfite content is a question that is regularly asked. Steve was so interested, that he volunteered to not only try the Üllo but send a few samples to his lab to see if it truly works. If/when he has results I’ll update this review with some rubber meets the road data. But until then, all I can say is that I found the wine smoother with the Üllo than without it.
The Üllo Wine Purifier seems like an ideal gift for those sulfite-sensitive/allergic folks you know. The Üllo itself comes with four filters and costs $80. The Selective Sulfite Capture single bottle filters cost approximately $3 each and are available in packs of 6 or 15. The Wine Club thought the filters were a bit pricey on a per bottle basis. But considering how expensive and limited sulfite-free wine is, the cost may be worth it for those needing/preferring low sulfite wines.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Üllo. Please visit their site for more info and Amazon to order.
11 thoughts on “Üllo Wine Purifier review”
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One word: Preposterous. The highlighted claim, “return wine to its natural state as if you opened the bottle right at the vineyard,” on its face is absurd.
Opened the wine at the vineyard? Out of the bottle after it has aged for 4years WITH SULFITES.
The buying public can be so gullible sometimes. The advanced polymer filter, if indeed it trapped sulfites would eventually build up concentrations that would make it impossible to filter. And you cannot filter an additive with a physical filter, only particulates like sediment, which you don’t drink anyway.
Yes, I understand your skepticism. But without real lab data I cannot say. Tho to be clear, the filters are one per bottle’s worth of wine. Not meant to be used above and beyond that so filter load is supposedly not an issue.
4 bottles for $80? I would have to spend $800 to handle just what is in my wine refrigerator. Not only preposterous, but a decided rip-off
Additional filters are less than $3 each.
The filter works via a covalent capture mechanism, whereby the free sulfites bind to the filter by a rapid, irreversible chemical reaction. The filter does not work like a net, capturing particles that exceed a certain mesh size. As sulfites are some of the smallest molecules in wine, such an approach would be impossible. The filter does stop working when saturated with sulfites and should be replaced with each new bottle. Filters cost between $2.25 – $3 per bottle, depending on quantity – not $20 each. LOLZ!
Any updates from testing by your friend Steve?
Karen Vaden has a great question about updates from your friend Steve sending the samples to the lab. Since the article appeared in 2017 and it is now December 2019, he should have the results.
Sulfites occur NATURALLY in wine production as they are present in the skin of the grape and are thrown off during the fermentation process.
That being said, additional Sulfites are often added to ensure preservation during shipping and on the shelf.
Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a naturally occuring ‘Sulfite Free’ wine. Even wines poured right fresh at the vineyard will have a certain level of naturally occurring Sulfites.
Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 will readily bind with SO2 to create H2S04 which renders the reactive properties of Sulfites inert. However, given that Sulfite levels will vary considerably from wine to wine, it is not at all clear how much Hydrogen Peroxide would need to be added to a given glass of wine to achieve a meaningful reduction of free Sulfites.
Please provide update when Lab Results are available for the Ullo. The principle of Covalent Attraction upon which this product is based is valid, but the proof will only be confirmed by credible empirical analysis.
Excellent analyisis Tom. I is closely approaching 2021 Dave and no updates on Steve’s testing?
Hi Gary – Well it’s now July 1, 2022 and still no results, so I’ve decided to go ahead and start contacting labs in my area to see which are capable and willing of doing an analysis of pre- and post-Ullo filtration sulfite levels.
I am going to try to find a particularly sulfite-laden red wine – probably something from an Old World warmer wine region.
I will post results here as soon as I receive them.
Have you received testing results from your July submission?