Drinking wine is really fun. In fact, going to Napa Valley to visit wineries and taste expensive wines is one of my favorite trips. But the drinking-to-learning ratio’s got to be right. That’s why you don’t see many people sitting on couches, reading a book on varietals without a glass of pinot in hand to help the information go down more easily.
Here’s where smart home tech comes in: Ideally, a smart wine device lets you drink wine, learn about that wine and feel cool all at the same time. I’ve tested one wine device before and had mixed feelings about it, but the potential is definitely there. And now Synek, the company behind the Counter Top Beer Dispenser, is taking on the project.
With its newly launched Kickstarter campaign, Synek hopes to fund a device called Somm (short for sommelier, a professional wine expert). Essentially Somm will house wine, keep it at ideal temperatures, limit aeration to prevent degradation and, finally, educate users through the companion app. It’s a cool concept, and it could be worth the $199 (about £140 or AU$260) pre-order price or $299 (£210 or AU$395) final price — if it works.
How it works
Synek’s Somm is a large, freestanding, counter top device. The cartridges that fit into it are much larger than typical bottles of wine. Instead, each cartridge — called a Sylo — holds about three bottles’ worth. A small chip on the Sylo tells Somm what temperature to keep the wine at and how aerated the wine should be before drinking. When the wine is ready to be poured, a diastolic pump pulls the wine out of a collapsible membrane, aerates it appropriately, and pours the glass.
The mechanism should stop air from contacting the wine in the Sylo, meaning it won’t degrade even after you pour a glass. Of course, the Kuvée Bottle was supposed to do that too, but was unsuccessful. Wine is delicate, and oxygen is its enemy. So for now, I’m skeptical of Synek’s approach, though hopeful in what its execution could mean for the lifespan of wine.
The educational side of Somm comes through the app. Using Synek’s app, Somm will tell you about the wine you’re drinking, and it will help you order more. I like the idea, but I wonder if it will be significantly more informative than a quick Google search. And ordering Sylos through Synek will only really seem appealing if it entails discounts.
Wine from what?
The mechanics of Sylos could work well. I hope they do! But part of me — maybe the purist I try to resist — feels the experience of wine might be diminished if it comes from a dispenser. You won’t get Sylos from Synek to display next to bottles. You won’t get it for a date night. Somm feels more like a cool party device. And that’s where I think its value will be. Getting larger amounts of wine for discounted prices would work well when you’re entertaining. And Synek says both old and new world wines will be represented — a good sign for serving varied tastes.
Synek’s Somm looks like an interesting concept with typical pros and cons. But if it gets funded, if development goes well (which is not always guaranteed in crowd-funded endeavors) and, ultimately, if it works, then it could be a solid purchase.
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