Do you get itchy, cramped-up or wheezy from even a little bit of wine? It could be because you have a sulfite sensitivity. Sulfites are sulfur-based compounds that are added in the wine-making process to prevent bacterial growth – they keep the wine from spoiling while it's in transit and storage. Given that they're not needed once the wine has been poured, however, chemist James Kornacki has developed a device for reducing them at that point in the game – it's called the Üllo.
The Üllo consists of a silicone reservoir on top, a replaceable food-grade polymer filter in the middle, and an aerator on the bottom. The device is placed on top of a glass, carafe or decanter, and then wine is poured through it.
According to Kornacki, the filter reduces the sulfites to a level of less than 10 parts-per-million, which he says is in line with levels that occur in wine naturally. As a side benefit, the Üllo also filters out sediments, and its aerator section can be mechanically "switched off" if not wanted.
All that being said, does it affect the flavor of the wine? James says that it can, slightly, although that by removing some of the sulfites' bitter taste it can actually make the wine more appealing. In his tests, the majority of tasters reportedly preferred Üllo-filtered white wines, while showing no preference with reds.
If the Üllo sounds like your cup of ... wine, you can currently pre-order one (with five filters) through its Kickstarter campaign for US$50. The estimated retail price for that particular package is $70 – each filter can be used for one full bottle, or several individual glasses over a period of a week. Needless to say, if you have a serious sulfite allergy, you'll want to consult your doctor before using the thing.
More information on the device is available in the pitch video below.