Is the first thing on your bucket list to fill the bucket with wine? Same. But unlucky for me, wine turns me red, makes me hot, and gives me a headache. Although the best kind of blush is a wine flush, I’ve really always wished there were a way to sip my vino without the side affects.

Finally, James Komacki, 28, is making my dream a reality with his product Üllo, named after the alchemical symbol for purity. At the age of 12, James witnessed his aunt turn away a glass of wine at his family Christmas party because of sulfites — powerful anti-microbial agents necessary for preservation. Wineries add sulfites to grapes after harvesting to make sure the wine doesn’t go bad during production, transportation, and storage. Although sulfites are the reason we can enjoy wines from around the world, these intense chemicals can cause symptoms like headaches and hot flashes.

The Making of Üllo

Üllo  PouringJames’ idea came to him during his undergraduate studies. He explains, “My aunt introduced me to what sulfites were, but I’ll admit that my motivation for developing Üllo was in part selfish. I realized in college that I too was sensitive to sulfites, and learned that this is very common for people like me who have severe asthma. When I started researching sulfites, I realized that they’re one of the most highly regulated food additives for this reason…However, they’re indispensably important to winemaking. Wine can’t age without sulfites.” After receiving his doctorate in chemistry from Northwestern, James started Üllo to fulfill his goal of removing sulfites from wine and bringing it back to its original state. When wine is poured through the small device, a food-grade polymer filter catches the sulfites while the rest of the compounds flow through unaffected.

Üllo is going to solve the big problem of wine headaches for a lot of people. About three million Americans are sensitive or allergic to sulfites, which causes symptomatic reactions like headaches or respiratory problems.

I asked James the most difficult part about the three-year process of developing his product. Expecting an answer about engineering technicalities, he said, “The most challenging aspect was recognizing that a product like this could never be an individual endeavor.” James has had to collaborate with product designers, lab experts, and business advisors including a team at MINIMAL, a design and brand incubation firm based in Chicago.

Üllo In Detail

Üllo includes an aeration feature for those who prefer the incorporation of ambient air to enhance certain flavors, specifically in tannic red wines. James tells me this is necessary to direct the flow of the purified wine through an inverted helix that forces the wine to swirl as it falls into your glass or into a carafe or decanter. The inventor is passionate about giving wine lovers the freedom to treat their wine how they want — with aeration or without. Üllo is dishwasher safe and it is recommended that a new filter be used for every new bottle of wine.

James created his product to enhance the at-home wine experience, but definitely wants to make Üllo available to restaurants in the future. He certainly hopes, “that wine lovers will embrace Üllo as a part of their drinking ritual. Every time a cork is pulled or a screw cap is twisted, Üllo should be there.” James has exceeded his funding goal on Kickstarter so Üllo will soon move to production. He’s excited to make a trip to Spooner, Wisconsin to see his aunt for the first time in 10 years and have her test out the product that she inspired.

Üllo is available for pre-order at www.ullowine.com

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About The Author

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Texas native, NYU grad, and lover of sprinkles. Trying to expand my palette to be more than bagels and desserts.