back to article Corking story: Idiotic smart wine bottle idea falls over, passes out

The spit bucket of idiotic tech ideas has just grown a little lighter with the death of "smart wine" company Kuvee. Kuvee was selling an Internet of Things wine bottle, basically a bottle-shaped sleeve with a touchscreen on the front. Owners would buy special cartridges of wine that slide into the bottle, which then displays …

  1. jake Silver badge

    These clowns were still in business?

    Who knew ... I laughed their sales droid out of my office a couple years ago, and kinda figured they dried up and blew away in the breeze.

    Or, as my friend (a blender for a largish winery just off Sonoma's Plaza) put it "I think these guys must be smoking instead of drinking" ...

    They seem to have one claim to fame, anyway. They are the only wine-related business in all of Sonoma, Napa, Lake or Mendocino counties that claims the fire caused their business to fail. The rest of us are doing just fine. Come visit, spring is here!

    Side note: If you really do just want a sip or a glass out of that expensive bottle, you'd do well to look into the Coravin system ... Most of us use one or another of their products. coravin.com

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: These clowns were still in business?

      I understand the commercial need for systems like Coravin (they're a net gain for high-end restaurants and bars as they allow expensive bottles to be sold out by the glass at higher margin), but in a home setting I'd never open a bottle expensive enough to deserve that kind of preservation without there being enough people around to finish it.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: These clowns were still in business?

        I'd never open a bottle expensive enough to deserve that kind of preservation without there being enough people

        In my book enough == me.

        Yes, my wife might have some wine too but, since she falls asleep after just sniffing the wine cork, the majority is left for me.

        Which is just how I like it.

    2. Jan 0
      Facepalm

      Re: These clowns were still in business?

      £350 for a Coravin!!? That would buy a Vacu Vin, a lot of stoppers and still have change to buy some nice wine.

      Still, fools and their money....

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: These clowns were still in business?

        The Coravin paid for itself the first time I used it. I allowed half a dozen prospective buyers to sample a bottle of 1977 Stag's Leap CabSauv over the space of about a year. Three of them got into a bidding war over the remaining 4 cases, which sold for almost four times what the supposed market value was.

        To celebrate the sale, we compared the remaining wine in the sample bottle with one of the the six bottles that I retained. Six wine experts in the room couldn't tell the difference. At that point, the tapped bottle had been sitting about half empty in my cellar for nearly 18 months. The Coravin argon did what it was supposed to do. Your Vacu Vin would have turned the sample bottle into vinegar before the third person had a chance to try it.

        Note that this isn't built for cheap $30 supermarket plonk. It's a professional tool, built for professionals. I may be a fool, but I don't waste money on the wrong tool for the job.

      2. BarryUK

        Re: These clowns were still in business?

        A Vacu Vin works for a few days (actually they never work very well with Pinot Noir), but a Coravin lets you drink a bottle over months if you want.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: These clowns were still in business?

          A Vacu Vin works for a few days

          Wine bottles that don't get emptied on the day of opening? Is that some variant of unicorn?

          (OK - so Port bottles don't get emptied on the same day[1] but they are a special case)

          [1] Unless nephew is staying with us..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: These clowns were still in business?

            If we get onto the second or 3rd bottle there might be some left over for the next day

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: These clowns were still in business?

      Kuvee fits the same pattern as the Soylent: nerds extrapolating from their own slightly odd needs. Not really much different to people who peddle crystals for healing, etc. for which there seems to be a market. But only in the Valley will you find a VC willing to throw money at something so "magical and revolutionary".

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Pint

    "That's right, the corked company didn't even have the sense to use the code LASTORDERS."

    Maybe one LASTORDER was all they had stock for.

    Icon - closest available option.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Pint

      A good option though....

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Shoulda' had the promo code be LASTCALL. But, I guess the people in this company aren't the type to hang out at bars.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huh?

    Come on, guys -- there are still a few days until April 1st!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      Yeah. This was the giveaway:

      subscribe to receive a batch of four cartridges a month

      That's the first weekend of each month dealt with. What about the rest of the month?

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Facepalm

    For any wine maker needing to replace their Kuvee system

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+create+QR+codes

  5. Natalie Gritpants

    If you want to only drink one glass at a time

    Buy a box. One will last me a whole week without going off.

    1. pavsmith

      Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

      You mean like a box with a dozen bottles in it? Yeah, that's about a week's worth...

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

        A former colleague once announced that he and the wife could get through (normally) a couple boxes of wine during the working week. He couldn't understand our concern about how much they were packing away just between Monday and Friday.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

          Wine in a bag or wine in a box works quite well, just remember that GIGO applies.

          The bag+valve is food-grade, and allows no oxygen or light to spoil the contents. The box makes for an easy to store/pack container that fits nicely on a shipping pallet, on the shelf or in the fridge. Unlike glass, they don;t break easily. They are cheaper than the equivalent number of bottles, and the savings is passed along to the consumer. These wines are pre-aged at the winery, so don't try to cellar them. All in all, it's actually a good idea ... for still wine. As long as the plonk in question is drinkable in the first place, of course. Caveat emptor.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

            he bag+valve is food-grade, and allows no oxygen or light to spoil the contents. The box makes for an easy to store/pack container that fits nicely on a shipping pallet, on the shelf or in the fridge. Unlike glass, they don;t break easily.

            Back in the 80-90's my mother and sis used to take the bag out of the box and take it to concerts like Springsteen etc at big open air stadia, as glass bottles were not allowed

    2. Lt.Kije

      Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

      Yup. Too obvious. Keeps all that nasty O2 out, and is wicked cheap if you dig a little - which is half the fun.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: If you want to only drink one glass at a time

      A wine box? Sainsbury’s do a rather good house rosé - generally lasts the family one evening.

  6. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Pint

    They probably say LASTORDER in the same way as they say MATH when they mean MATHS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Either that, or they only expected a single customer to be stupid enough to throw good money after bad.

  7. Keef

    Paragraph 2, Line i

    Internet of Things

    I'm out.

    How the hell did they get any funding.

    What a wonderful world we live in. FFS.

    1. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Paragraph 2, Line i

      "How the hell did they get any funding"

      I imagine it went something ike this.......

      "Hic. Hey ths is GREAT!"

      "Not bad eh? Fancy another "cartridge"?"

      "What, ANOTHER one? Oh go on, why not?"

      I thought my personal collection of experiences of encounters with idiots during the dotcom boom and bust was pretty untoppable for many years, but this was just the most entertaining one I've ever read by quite some distance. As a wine lover myself, any really decent bottle should be decanted into a glass jug and left for an hour before enjoying at leisure over the course of an evening.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "any really decent bottle should be decanted into a glass jug and left for an hour"

        Well, that actually depends on the wine - some after an hour left warming could become quite ugly...

  8. Dwarf Silver badge

    Cartridges

    I buy my wine and beer in cartridges. In the layman's vernacular, we call these "bottles"

    They even have small scrolls of dead tree stuck to the front with strange hieroglyphs that describe the contents. Best of all, they work in power cuts and need nothing more than an opener and piece of blown glass to allow you to consume them.

    Seriously - why add technology to something that doesn't benefit from it in any way. Idiots !

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Cartridges

      Cartridges....hmmmm.

      Yes. At home blended wine. Like an inkjet printer. Little cartridges of various wines. Some PC software to effectively 3D Print out a glass of custom blended wine, based on your mood. Yes, this could work. We'd sell little $35 cartridges of wine, about 50mL each. The software would be $80 a month, SaaS.

      Excuse me. I've got to Indiegogo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cartridges

      Best of all, they work in power cuts and need nothing more than an opener and piece of blown glass to allow you to consume them.

      I find screw tops far more reliable than crappy old corks that need an opener, and too often spoil the contents. And then, what's wrong with a straw?

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Cartridges

        Well corks are a problem (althoutghI have sympathy with an argument about the change in the local ecosystem - and I± have very infrequently had a 'corked' wine - with lots of practice :-)

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Cartridges

        Straws are killing the environment.

        Just wipe the rim of the bottle, and pass it around, there's a good chap.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Cartridges

          Just wipe the rim of the bottle, and pass it around, there's a good chap.

          Or you could, like, have some re-usable glass or ceramic containers to drink the wine from. With the right ones[1], they are even re-usable after washing!

          I really ought to research and market this brand-new idea. First I need a good name for the container..

          [1] Obviously not the Greek ones. I understand that those are single-use only.. Or is that plates?

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The company however is the epitome of a failed tech startup: its concept and business model only making sense to a buzzed techie with more disposable income than sense

    Ah.... the IoT business model then which seems to be pretty common lately.

  10. Leedos

    19 Crimes wine - Clever AR application

    I got to experience this in person. I was impressed from both a technical and a marketing point of view. No need screw up the wine bottle. Just build an app to recognize the label.

    Forbes Article link

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 19 Crimes wine - Clever AR application

      "Just build an app to recognize the label."

      Or read the barcode.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Or read the barcode"

        Try it, on a bottle from 1949...

  11. EveryTime Silver badge

    Some people build a business trying to eliminate the middle man, usually by becoming the middle man.

    Other people try to figure out how they can bluntly insert themselves in the money flow between consumer and producer, with only the weakest facade of adding value.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "Other people try to figure out how they can bluntly insert themselves in the money flow between consumer and producer"

      Which is exactly what "entrepreneur" means but we're supposed to think it is good.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "How the hell did they get any funding"

    Because there are always stupid sheep waiting to be fleeced.

    PT Barnum made a living off that. He'd have LOVED the internet. Ye gods.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "How the hell did they get any funding"

      "PT Barnum made a living off that. He'd have LOVED the internet. Ye gods."

      Too much competition?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "How the hell did they get any funding"

        "PT Barnum made a living off that. He'd have LOVED the internet. Ye gods."

        Too much competition?

        Nah - that would get outweighed by the increased supply of suckers.

  13. Tromos

    My solution

    As someone who occasionally would like just one or two glasses of wine, I maintain a reasonable stock of half (350ml) and quarter (175ml) bottles of various wines. Purchasing in bulk (I usually order 60 bottles at a time), the discount eliminates the price premium that the smaller bottles would otherwise carry. Also works nicely when making up a packed lunch as a small bottle adds little weight but provides a civilized touch to the meal.

    Cheers.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: My solution

      I think it would be frowned upon, even in California, to include a bottle of wine in your kid's packed lunch.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: My solution

        Maybe Tromos is French,

        !

  14. TheProf
    Windows

    Pump It Up

    Vacuvin Wine Saver. Less than a tenner at Amazon at the time of writing.

    Or why not ask a friend or even a total stranger to help you finish the bottle? It's a great way to meet new people.

  15. Mike 125

    > spend money upfront on a device that can only be used with its cartridges

    I hate anything with cartridges - Epson printers, 16+ bladed shavers, guns, those appalling little coffee things, now wine. The list goes on.

    As for why Kuvee failed, that's obvious: it didn't have Bluetooth.

    1. KBeee
      Joke

      Re: > spend money upfront on a device that can only be used with its cartridges

      If they'd called themselves "Kuvee Blockchain" they'd have been onto a winner.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    I'm thinking "RFID tag on the bottles of wineries they partner with." Then I'm thinking

    WTF am I bothering with it?

    There's a reason why wine still comes in glass bottles after more than 2000 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "wine still comes in glass bottles after more than 2000 years."

      Just, for a long part of those 2000 years, it came in ceramic amphoras, and then wood barrels. The use of glass bottles is more recent.

      Just, metallic cartridges is not exactly the best way to keep wine. I don't even like beer in aluminum cans, only glass bottles.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: "wine still comes in glass bottles after more than 2000 years."

        Apparently beer keeps better in tins as it blocks out the light. Although I agree it still doesn't feel quite the same as a bottle.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: "wine still comes in glass bottles after more than 2000 years."

          I remember reading something about the colour of the wine bottle making a difference when it comes to keeping the wine. Can't find it now, of course...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Apparently beer keeps better in tins as it blocks out the light."

          Maybe. Anyway I keep both wine and beer in a dark, underground cellar. It is also true I don't keep around beer bottles for too long.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "Apparently beer keeps better in tins as it blocks out the light."

            Wine in a can?! Yes, sadly you can.

  17. Dog Eatdog

    Simpler explanation

    "its concept and business model only making sense to a buzzed techie with more disposable income than sense."

    No, Manwani was pissed when he thought it up.

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Pint

    To be fair...

    While most think it's a joke, scoffs at it for not being for them or ridiculously expensive, it seems reasonable to think it wasn't aimed at them. The financial backing suggests others also thought there was enough of that niche market to make it a success.

    It wasn't but it isn't the first time a product has failed to gain traction. Tech geeks usually have a huge collection of tat they bought then never use.

    How we laughed at selling barrels of beer in individual cans, chuckled at the ridiculous notion of Miniatures. Real Men (TM) drink it by the imperial gallon.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: To be fair...

      huge collection of tat they bought then never use

      Which if you can persuade them to keep buying, or a sell a subscription, is the basis of a lot of healthy businesses.

  19. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Facepalm

    A tag, an app and an mark...

    There, fixed the product for you, costs down to bare minimum, and it's basically a Amazon Rebuy Button, but with an RFID/QR code on it too for the video playback.

    Honestly, selling a touch screen wine bottle reader, and not expecting the owner to already have an Ipad Pro or iPhone X (or Note 8 etc)?

    The cash would be in the service, branding etc... not some stupid touch gadget that is obsolete in less time than it takes to drink the bottle, let alone store it!

  20. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Why?!

    Disclaimer: I had ideas like this. I smiled. I moved on. And I didn't make nor lose a fortune.

    Here though, all that comes to my mind is a fool and his money...

  21. maffski

    It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

    You may think it's a stupid idea. I may think it's a stupid idea. But what works and doesn't work isn't down to a few individuals so what is allowed to be tried shouldn't be down to a few individuals.

    It's the freedom to fail that allows for economic advancement.

    No money was 'wasted' testing this 'idiotic' idea. It was taken from people that had an incorrect view of what humanity wanted and given to other people who might have a better view.

    So raise a glass to the falling of Kuvee. A whole bunch of suppliers now have a little profit to invest in this fantastic idea they've got...

    ...disclaimer. I'm currently investing (time) in this fantastic idea I've got

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

      Well, there was the 6 million dollars of VC funding that could have been more gainfully spent on something more useful to society.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

        'Well, there was the 6 million dollars of VC funding that could have been more gainfully spent on something more useful to society.'

        But who decides what that is? Because the track record for governments is marginal at best.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

          Practically anything is more useful to society than this... whatever it is.

          I didn't mention governments, but if you're talking about governments' track record, other governments apart from yours (which is probably the US or UK) are available.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

            'Practically anything is more useful to society than this... whatever it is.'

            But who decides that? In your opinion anything would be more useful to society, but obviously there are a slack handful of people who thought differently and if they'd been right a new business would have developed employing people in paid work. It turns out they were wrong, but, and this may shock you, people are wrong on a regular basis the best estimate is that about 20% of the decisions people make every day are wrong. So until you can find a way of stopping people making the wrong decision businesses will fail.

            Not to forget that that $6M will have been paid to people for doing things, such as making a needlessly complicated thing for holding wine, it's not as if it's disappeared, so there will still have been use to society in employing people.

            The problem with governments, and this applies to all of them, is that when they make the wrong decision there's very little to stop them just throwing more of your money at it rather than admit they made a mistake.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

              It was a stupid idea.

              Predictably, it failed.

              Suckers were fleeced.

              Trying to turn it into anything more than this is a fool's errand.

      2. maffski

        Re: It shows why freemarkets and capitalism work so well

        'Well, there was the 6 million dollars of VC funding that could have been more gainfully spent on something more useful to society.'

        No. They didn't just set fire to the money; it went to suppliers and employees, who will then spend or invest it.

  22. Chris G Silver badge

    Odd glass

    I am one of those who likes the odd glass of wine but being the only wine drinker in my household for the most part means finding a way of preventing the remaining wine from going off.

    Having done a lot of research and experimentation at great length, read books, asked questions I discovered the best solution.

    Put the cork back in.

    Well, in the winter it's okay, I can come back to a bottle a week later and there is only the difference that it has breathed a little.

    In summer I just have to grin and bear drinking a bottle in two days.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Odd glass

      'In summer I just have to grin and bear drinking a bottle in two days.'

      #thoughtsandprayers

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Odd glass

      Yes, cork & fridge works great for a couple days. Reds, too, but allow them to warm back up before imbibing ...

  23. Simon Ward

    Should have done it with beer instead ...

    ... after all, that's what all the bearded, millennial Nathan Barley clones are drinking.

    IoT craft beer is the future, I tells ya ... stick a blockchain in there somewhere and watch the money roll in.

    "The spit bucket of idiotic tech" ... yep, I'm definitely gonna use that although the idea is so utterly full of shit that "septic tank" may have been more appropriate, unless I'm missing a wine-tasting reference there.

    (or maybe I'm biased. I'm very fond of my beer - wine, on the other hand, is just grape juice gone bad and you can keep it)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Should have done it with beer instead ...

      You've heard of pico-brew?

      The internet-linked wifi-enabled block-chained breadmaker for beer, yours for a mere $$$$$$

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Should have done it with beer instead ...

        Pico Brew ... makes a gallon and a half of beer for the price you'd pay for ingredients to brew 5 gallons of most whole grain recipes. On the bright side, it makes for a rather expensive Sous Vide machine ...

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Should have done it with beer instead ...

      I'm very fond of my beer - wine, on the other hand, is just grape juice gone bad

      By the same token it could be argued that beer is just gone-off barley/wheat..

      The fact that the gone-offness is carefully guided to produce the correct level of toxins (and toxins of a specific kind) is irrelevent.

  24. ecofeco Silver badge

    Corked?

    If you drink wine and you don't know how to get the cork back in the bottle, you have no business claiming you know a damn thing about wine, let alone trying to sell a wine product.

    Not to mention just the general knowledge of the wine industry, let alone sommelier level of knowledge that you really need.

    1. Jan 0

      Re: Corked?

      Any fule know how to bang a cork in a bottle. Maybe you should find out what the term 'corked wine' means?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Corked?

        Or perhaps discover what the British slang term "corking" means.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Corked?

          what the British slang term "corking" means.

          I had a friend that was convined that "corked" meant those little bits of cork that you sometimes find in the wine.

          Until I gave him a taste of a properly-corked wine. *Then* he understood.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still can't believe how much people fuss over, and pay for grape juice

    Sigh....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still can't believe how much people fuss over, and pay for grape juice

      I think you'll find it's grape juice that's gone off....

  26. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Trollface

    Bottle stopper

    If you must buy wine with a cork closure then there is a nifty little device with an expanding rubber bung and a lever in the top which saves you any hassle trying to get the cork back in.

    A quick Google shows many other different design variants on bottle stoppers under 10 UKP.

    For those having trouble keeping red wine fresh in the summer, there is a wonderful new appliance called a fridge.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Bottle stopper

      For those having trouble keeping red wine fresh in the summer

      "You are not drinking it quickly enough".

  27. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Kuvee tries to solve a problem that only its founder and presumably a few hundred other people have: how to only drink a glass of wine at a time."

    Yes, not really a problem I have.

    "Everyone else has friends and family to share with."

    Oh. That was your solution? Never mind then.

    1. PPK

      IKR?

      It's like when I first read the phrase "leftover wine".

      I still can't quite understand what it means...

      1. Geekpride

        Re: IKR?

        I have to admit, I sometimes can't / don't want to finish the second bottle. But I can either screw the top back on or put a stopper in, that seems to preserve it for a day or two until I want to finish it.

  28. a pressbutton

    If you want to spend about £10 get a nitrogen gas bottle from a*****n, who (o/t) know far more about me than even my mum / wife etc...

    spray

    replace cork.

    put in fridge

    bit more effective than a vaccuvin.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    I suprised it didn't take off....

    ...after all the wine market is the same as the audio market.

    The gullible will buy anything with the right label and stupid price tag.

    They ignore the facts that time after time in blind testing, the cheap supermarket own labels beat the expensive brands in the same way that the coat hanger is as good as the platinum and carbon nano-tube mono-directional oxygen free cable.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Alan Edwards

    Alternatively...

    Would they not be better building the display (flexible OLED or e-ink) into a collar that goes around an existing wine bottle? For extra points, add a handle that makes it easier to pour?

    Do wine bottle labels have barcodes? (sorry, non-drinker here) If so, add a laser barcode reader to automatically read the code and download the wine information over wifi and a web service. Otherwise, use a mobile app pull down the info and Bluetooth it over to the display unit.

    1. EveryTime Silver badge

      Re: Alternatively...

      Most wine bottles do have barcodes. That's pretty much a requirement to sell them in stores.

      I live near wineries. Some of the bottles sold at the winery itself are limited runs that are only sold directly, to winery visitors, "wine club" members (age-verified mail order), and to restaurant buyers. These often don't have bar codes. But it's a minor part of the market

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