Ever wish you could just run your wine through a Brita filter and make it taste better? Well, now you can — sort of. Released Sept. 1, the Üllo Wine Purifier ($79) simultaneously acts as an aerator and filter to removed sulfites and sediments. In other words, using it is intended to enhance the flavor of even the cheapest bottle of wine. Intrigued, I asked for a sample to try out on an inexpensive bottle I snagged at the grocery store.
Like a Brita, the Üllo really does have disposable filters that look like tea bags, called Selective Sulfite Capture Filters ($20 for a pack of 6) that must be replaced after each bottle of wine. They work by "selectively" filtering out about 80 percent of the sulfites in the wine without disrupting the other chemical compounds in the wine.
Now it was go time. As we poured the wine, we noticed that it does take time — not a million years but bordering on uncomfortable — for the device to filter, aerate, and trickle the wine back into the glass. It took me about 15 minutes to pour a large magnum bottle of Chardonnay.
I then set up a blind taste test. One pitcher contained the filtered wine and the other had the same bottle but unfiltered. Side-by-side, it was clear which one had been filtered. The Üllo-purified wine (labeled Wine 2) appeared clear and less colorful, while the original (labeled Wine 1) had a cloudy, darker yellow hue. As for the flavor, tasters noticed Wine 1 (unfiltered) tasted acidic and had a strong oaky, buttery flavor often associated with American Chardonnay. Wine 2 (filtered) had mixed reviews. Some found it tasted less sweet and more open but had a flat, dry, bitter finish — almost cardboard-like. Others thought Wine 2 tasted smoother, easier to drink, and had a better aftertaste than Wine 1. Ultimately, half the tasters liked Wine 1 and half strongly preferred Wine 2. While disappointing that we didn't have a clear winner, it goes to show that wine and its level of deliciousness are simply subjective.