Recently I have seen advertisements on Facebook about a device that takes the fear of hangovers away from drinking wine. Of course that sounds like a dream come true, but I wonder if this claim is scientifically based or just strategic marketing. The specific product that I am looking into is called Ullo. Ullo is a startup from Chicago with the mission of bringing wine back to its natural state. After watching Ullo’s story video, I learned several things. First, the creators of this product have chemistry or vineyard/ wine-making backgrounds which could make them more credible than someone with a total unrelated background. Second, I learned that their product attempts to trap the sulfites used to preserve the wine to bring the wine back to its natural taste. Lastly, their product is said to have an aeration function that can be turned on or off to add flavor, specifically to red wine. After hearing all of this, I think that their product sounds very appealing, but how valid are all of these claims?
Next, I decided to find some scientific sources to confirm that sulfites can act as a causal agent for hangovers or at least see if there is a correlation between amount of sulfites consumed and severity of hangover after drinking. On Google Scholar I found a post which discusses sulfites in wine and the trend of consumers paying more for sulfite-free wine. Since the 1980s, the FDA has required sulfites to be on wine labels because they can be hazardous to about 1% of the population. For these sulfite-sensitive consumers, sulfite intake can lead to difficulty breathing, skin rashes, and stomach pain. Typically, we associate hangovers with headaches, nausea, and fatigue so it is interesting that this article does not link any of those symptoms with sulfite intake. Although there is a very small number who are sulfite-sensitive, anecdotal evidence and articles show that a much higher percentage of the population reports headaches after drinking small amounts of sulfites. So we can not state that sulfites in wine is a direct cause of hangovers, but since many people have complained there could possibly be a correlation. There would also be confounding variables like amount of wine consumed, amount of water consumed to keep hydrated, variations in a drinker’s tolerance, other alcoholic drinks consumed on the same days, and others. Another scholarly journal article admits that the cause of hangovers are still unknown. Research on the topic has only used anecdotes and questionnaire-based approaches so I can not confirm that there is a direct causation between sulfite intake and hangover intensity.
When it comes to the topic of aerating wine, there is a patent for a method of aeration. This patent discusses the benefits and improvement of taste. I recognize that there may be some bias with a patent positively marketing its product. Unfortunately, when I looked for university studies or scholarly articles on the topic, there were not any substantial articles. I have had some difficulty finding proper research for this piece, but I have learned several things. It appears that scientists have not put much focus on researching sulfites in wine, wine taste or wine aeration. I think that there is a lot of room for research in this area, especially with wine’s popularity increasing with millennials. I can not draw a specific conclusion based off of the information that I found so all that I can do is leave a recommendation. Ullo’s wine purifiers are $79.99 which is expensive and that money could buy several bottles of wine. I do not think that a product at that price is worth it since the product is not 100% backed by science, but another option is using reviews as anecdotal evidence and deciding whether the investment is worth it. After all of this research, I cannot confirm or deny that Ullo’s products 100% work. Since the product is $79.99, I do not think that it is logical for a Penn State student to purchase the item. That is a lot of money for a product that only works based on a few consumer’s anecdotes.