A MBA team from UC Davis designed a high-tech closure for wine bottles that would allow the wine to breathe much like traditional bark corks and won the prize of the annual Big Bang! Business Plan Competition.
The high-tech wine cap was developed by MBA student Tim Keller, a UC Davis viticulture and enology alumnus with 10 years of experience as a winemaker in Sonoma and Napa counties, Kevin Chartrand, MBA candidate with an undergraduate degree in materials science who worked as a thin-film expert at IBM and Diana Mejia, working on a master’s degree in food engineering. This “breathing screw cap” has small vent holes. It is fitted with a liner made of alternating layers of thin metal and a porous polymer. The liner can be customized to allow optimal oxidation for specific varietals.
“If you open up lots of bottles of the same wine, you’ll notice variability from bottle to bottle because of differences in the amount of oxygen that gets in,” Keller said. “With cork, you just never know. Our product will give a level of control that the wine industry has never had.”
It is true that, in a same case, the taste of the wine might change in each bottle due to several factors, including the oxydation (let’s forget the taint for the moment). For a lot of wine consumers, it is part of the adventure of wine tasting. I admire the technical accomplishment, but would say that this type of closure will be perfect for a mass-market brand but not for a high quality one. I still want to wonder how bottle 2 of the same wine will differ from bottle 1!